Buprenorphine (Buprenex) For Cats and Dogs: What Are The Side Effects and Alternatives?
Nali Macklin - March 16th 2020
Table Of Contents
Buprenorphine (also known as Buprenex) is a pain reliever commonly used in cats and dogs experiencing mild to moderate pain.
It is a type of analgesic (a medication that provides relief from pain without putting your pets to sleep or making them lose consciousness) used primarily to help manage and dull pain.
Buprenorphine is not an over-the-counter drug; a veterinarian must prescribe it.
This drug is 30 times stronger than morphine with high potential for abuse and misuse.
Therefore it should be taken very seriously.
Buprenorphine is used in lower doses; since in higher doses, your pet may experience a “ceiling effect,” which means giving more of this drug does not create a more significant effect.
This is a potent drug, always give the exact amount that your vet has prescribed. Your pet should have a physical exam and lab work done before considering using this drug.
In cats, it is used by applying inside of cheek pouch or under the cat’s tongue. The drug is absorbed into the body directly from the mouth membranes making swallowing unnecessary.
In dogs, it is typically administered via intravenous or under the skin. When given orally, this drug doesn’t work as well as in cats. If you are asked by your vet to provide injections of this drug at home, make sure you follow your vet’s instructions carefully.
Sedation (sleepiness) is the most common side effect of Buprenorphine, but other side effects may include:
|Excessive licking||Constricted pupil|
|Gastrointestinal side effects||Dehydration|
|Pacing||Drop in blood pressure|
|Slow heart rate|
Buprenorphine goes through the liver and kidney during the removal process. Therefore pets with liver disease or kidney disease will have prolonged effects from this drug.
Pets suffering from the following conditions should never be put on this drug:
- Liver disease
- Respiratory issues (including from heart failure or head trauma)
- Sensitivity to opiates
You should take extreme caution if your pet has:
- Addison's Disease
- Central nervous system disfunction
- Compromised cardiovascular function
- Elderly/seriously debilitated
- High cerebrospinal fluid levels
- Severe Renal Insufficiency
According to Drugs.com, the average cost for Buprenex (injectable solution) is around $89 for 5 milliliters worth of supply. However, the price will vary depending on which pharmacy you purchase.
Some medications may interact with Buprenorphine. Be sure to let your vet know all the medicines your pet is taking.
Here are some drugs that have known to interact with Buprenorphine:
|Benzodiazepines||Central nervous system depressant agents|
|Fentanyl||Fluconazole (all antifungals)|
|Local anesthetics||MAOLs (antidepressants)|
|Metoclopramide||Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors|
Your vet may generally prescribe medications such as Buprenorphine to manage your pet’s pain, they might also prescribe a drug like Mirtazapine for cats, as they often lose their appetite when sick.
Although Buprenorphine is very effective, it can also come with dangerous side effects.
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