Pharmacokinetic data were determined after a single dose of meloxicam in red-tailed hawks (RTH; Buteo jamaicensis) and great horned owls (GHO; Bubo virginianus). In a nonrandomized crossover design, individual birds of each species received 1 dose of intravenous meloxicam (0.5 mg/kg IV; n = 7 for each species) followed by a 2-week washout period, and then each received 1 dose of oral meloxicam (0.5 mg/kg PO; n = 5 for each species). Blood samples were collected intermittently after administration, and meloxicam was detected in plasma by high-performance liquid chromatography. Time versus plasma concentration data were subjected to noncompartmental analysis. Red-tailed hawks were determined to have the shortest elimination half-life for meloxicam (0.49 ± 0.5 hours) of any species documented. Great horned owls also eliminated meloxicam very rapidly (0.78 ± 0.52 hours). Great horned owls achieved higher plasma concentrations (368 ± 87 ng/mL) of meloxicam than RTH (182 ± 167 ng/mL) after oral administration, although RTH had a markedly higher volume of distribution (832 ± 711 mL/kg) than GHO (137.6 ± 62.7 mL/kg). The differences in meloxicam pharmacokinetics between these 2 raptor species supports the need for species-dependent studies and underlines the challenges of extrapolating drug dosages between species. Results of this study suggest that the current recommended once-daily dosing interval of oral meloxicam is unlikely to maintain plasma concentrations anticipated to be therapeutic in either RTH or GHO, and practical dosing options are questionable for this nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drug in these raptor species.
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