This study was conducted to evaluate whether the administration of naloxone (NAL) had an impact on the speed or quality of recovery in servals anesthetized with ketamine, butorphanol, and medetomidine. Twenty-two clinically healthy, captive servals (Leptailurus serval) were anesthetized for routine physical examinations using ketamine (3 mg/kg), medetomidine (0.03 mg/kg), and butorphanol (0.3 mg/kg). Eleven animals were administered atipamezole (5 mg/mg medetomidine) and NAL (0.1 mg/mg butorphanol), while the other 11 were administered atipamezole (5 mg/mg medetomidine) and sterile saline (SAL). There was no statistically significant difference in recovery time between the NAL and the SAL group; similarly, there were no significant differences between groups at any time point for the measures of quality of recovery used in this study. This investigation was unable to detect a clinically significant difference in anesthetic recovery for servals that received NAL relative to those that did not. These results suggest that butorphanol does not routinely need to be antagonized in captive servals that are anesthetized with these dosages of ketamine, medetomidine, and butorphanol. It may be more important to administer opioid antagonists in free-ranging animals, where residual sedation would be more detrimental. In these cases, a long-acting antagonist, such as naltrexone, may be indicated. An opioid antagonist, such as NAL or naltrexone, should always be available for emergency administration whenever opioids are used. Additionally, this study provided physiologic data for servals anesthetized with a ketamine-medetomidine-butorphanol combination.
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