Intramuscular (IM) administration of either alfaxalone or butorphanol with midazolam was evaluated for sedation and effects on heart and respiratory rates in budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). Twenty adult budgerigars were randomly assigned to receive 1 of 2 treatments: alfaxalone at 15 mg/kg IM or butorphanol and midazolam at 2.5 mg/kg IM and 1.25 mg/kg IM, respectively. Baseline heart and respiratory rates and sedation score were collected and, after injection, time to initial effects and initial recumbency were recorded. Five minutes after injection, birds were assessed for a righting reflex, and, if absent, response to noxious stimulus was assessed by hemostat clamp on the first digit. Birds then underwent a standardized diagnostic evaluation of radiographs, jugular venipuncture, and physical examination. At the end of the physical examination, a sedation score was assigned, and birds were placed in dorsal recumbency for recovery. Times from injection to initial arousal, final recumbency, standing, and full recovery were recorded. Although time to onset of sedation was the same between groups, alfaxalone produced a shorter (P = .04) and more consistent duration of sedation (mean ± SD: 27.5 ± 5.9 minutes) compared with butorphanol-midazolam (72.0 ± 56.9 minutes). Only 3 of 10 birds receiving butorphanol-midazolam were recumbent by 5 minutes compared with 10 of 10 birds receiving alfaxalone. Radiographs were successfully obtained in 9 of 10 and 7 of 10 birds administered alfaxalone and butorphanol-midazolam, respectively. No adverse effects were observed in any bird. Intramuscular alfaxalone produces safe, effective, and reliable sedation in budgerigars and is a more consistent and shorter duration alternative to intramuscular butorphanol-midazolam.
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