Previous studies have validated the clinical use of opioids with μ-receptor affinities for pain management in raptors. Buprenorphine has a longer duration of action and minimal adverse effects when compared with other opioids in American kestrels (Falco sparverius). To evaluate the thermal antinociceptive effects, sedative effects, and duration of action of sustained-release buprenorphine given intramusculary in American kestrels, 12 adult kestrels (8 females and 4 males) were used in a randomized masked complete-crossover experimental design. Buprenorphine SR LAB (1.8 mg/kg) or a control solution were administered intramuscularly. Foot withdrawal response to a thermal stimulus was determined 1 hour before (baseline) and at 1.5, 6, 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours after treatment administration. Agitation-sedation scores were determined 3–5 minutes before each time point, and adverse effects were monitored at these times. Buprenorphine SR LAB significantly increased thermal thresholds at 6, 12, and 24 hours and resulted in mild sedation according to the mean sedation-agitation scores comparing the treatment and control groups. Depending on the severity and type of pain, adjunctive therapy, and individual response, Buprenorphine SR LAB administered at 1.8 mg/kg IM to American kestrels would require administration every 24 hours to manage pain. Further pharmacodynamic and clinical evaluations are warranted in kestrels and other Falconiformes, Accipitriformes, and Strigiformes to establish accurate dosing recommendations.
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