OBJECTIVE To determine the pharmacokinetics and potential adverse effects of pimobendan after oral administration in New Zealand White rabbits (Ocytolagus cuniculi). ANIMALS 10 adult sexually intact (5 males and 5 females) rabbits. PROCEDURES 2 pilot studies were performed with a pimobendan suspension or oral tablets. Eight rabbits received 7.5 mg of pimobendan (mean 2.08 mg/kg) suspended in a critical care feeding formula. Plasma concentrations of pimobendan and O-demethylpimobendan (ODMP) were measured, and pharmacokinetic parameters were calculated for pimobendan by noncompartmental analysis. Body weight, food and water consumption, mentation, urine, and fecal output were monitored. RESULTS Mean ± SD maximum concentration following pimobendan administration was 15.7 ± 7.54 ng/mL and was detected at 2.79 ± 1.25 hours. The half-life was 3.54 ± 1.32 hours. Plasma concentrations of pimobendan were detectable for up to 24 hours. The active metabolite, ODMP, was detected in rabbits for 24 to 36 hours. An adverse event occurred following administration of pimobendan in tablet form in 1 pilot study, resulting in death secondary to aspiration. No other adverse events occurred. CLINICAL RELEVANCE Plasma concentrations of pimobendan were lower than previously reported for dogs and cats, despite administration of higher doses, and had longer time to maximum concentration and half-life. Based on this study, 2 mg/kg of pimobendan in a critical care feeding formulation should maintain above a target plasma concentration for 12 to 24 hours. However, further studies evaluating multiple-dose administration as well as pharmacodynamic studies and clinical trials in rabbits with congestive heart failure are needed to determine accurate dose and frequency recommendations.
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