Sedation & Pain Management of Exotic Companion Mammals

Exotic companion small mammals, such as rabbits, rodents, and ferrets, are popular pets, and are frequently presented to veterinary practitioners for several medical reasons. The RACE-approved recording of this live, 1-hour webinar was presented by Dario d’Ovidio, DVM, MS, SpecPACS, DECZM (Small Mammals). Dr. d'Ovidio first compares the value of chemical versus physical restraint and anesthesia versus sedation before discussing the use of specific sedative agents in exotic companion mammals. The presentation then moves to pain management, discussing systemic analgesia and locoregional anesthesia or analgesia . . .

To continue you need to be a member. (Français), (Español)

Pour continuer, vous devez être un membre

Para continuar, debe ser miembro de

Already a LafeberVet Member?

Please Login


Allweiler SI. How to improve anesthesia and analgesia in small mammals. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract. 2016; 19(2):361-77. doi: 10.1016/j.cvex.2016.01.012. PMID: 27131157.

Barter LS, Epstein SE. Cardiopulmonary effects of three concentrations of isoflurane with or without mechanical ventilation and supramaximal noxious stimulation in New Zealand white rabbits. Am J Vet Res. 2013; 74(10):1274-80. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.74.10.1274. PMID: 24066911.

Brodbelt DC, Blissitt KJ, Hammond RA, et al. The risk of death: the confidential enquiry into perioperative small animal fatalities. Vet Anaesth Analg. 2008; 35(5):365-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2008.00397.x. Epub 2008 May 5. PMID: 18466167.

Carpenter JW (ed). Exotic Animal Formulary, 5th ed. Elsevier, 2017.

Hawkins MG, Pascoe PJ. Anesthesia, analgesia, and sedation of small mammals. In: Quesenberry KE, Carpenter JW (eds). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2012: 435-451.

Mayer J, Donnelly TM. Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Birds and Exotic Pets. St. Louis: Saunders; 2012.



Bellini L, Banzato T, Contiero B, Zotti A. Evaluation of sedation and clinical effects of midazolam with ketamine or dexmedetomidine in pet rabbits. Vet Rec. 2014; 175(15):372. doi: 10.1136/vr.102595. Epub 2014 Jul 2. PMID: 24989038.

Bradley MP, Doerning CM, Nowland MH, Lester PA. Intramuscular administration of alfaxalone alone and in combination for sedation and anesthesia of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2019; 58(2):216-222. doi: 10.30802/AALAS-JAALAS-18-000078. Epub 2019 Feb 28. PMID: 30819274; PMCID: PMC6433347.

Cardoso CG, Ayer IM, Jorge AT, Honsho CS, Mattos-Junior E. A comparative study of the cardiopulmonary and sedative effects of a single intramuscular dose of ketamine anesthetic combinations in rabbits. Res Vet Sci. 2020; 128:177-182. doi: 10.1016/j.rvsc.2019.11.016. Epub 2019 Nov 30. PMID: 31812610.

d’Ovidio D, Marino F, Noviello E, Lanaro E, Monticelli P, Adami C. Sedative effects of intramuscular alfaxalone in pet guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus). Vet Anaesth Analg. 2018; 45(2):183-189. doi: 10.1016/j.vaa.2017.08.004. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 29398530.

Ghaffari MS, Moghaddassi AP. Effects of ketamine-diazepam and ketamine-acepromazine combinations on intraocular pressure in rabbits. Vet Anaesth Analg. 2010; 37(3):269-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2010.00531.x. PMID: 20456113.

Ghaffari MS, Moghaddassi AP, Bokaie S. Effects of intramuscular acepromazine and diazepam on tear production in rabbits. Vet Rec. 2009; 164(5):147-8. doi: 10.1136/vr.164.5.147. PMID: 19188346.

Hausmann KE, Doss GA, Mans C. Subcutaneous tiletamine-zolazepam immobilization and effect of flumazenil reversal in African pygmy hedgehogs. J Exotic Pet Med. 2021; 30:42-46. doi: 10.1053/j.jepm.2020.11.003.

Hawkins SJ, Doss GA, Mans C. Evaluation of subcutaneous administration of alfaxalone-midazolam and ketamine-midazolam as sedation protocols in African pygmy hedgehogs (Atelerix albiventris). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2020; 257(8):820-825. doi: 10.2460/javma.257.8.820. PMID: 33021455.

Huynh M, Poumeyrol S, Pignon C, Le Teuff G, Zilberstein L. Intramuscular administration of alfaxalone for sedation in rabbits. Vet Rec. 2015 Mar 7;176(10):255. doi: 10.1136/vr.102522. Epub 2014 Nov 28. PMID: 25433053.



Doss GA, Mans C. Antinociceptive efficacy and safety of subcutaneous buprenorphine hydrochloride administration in African pygmy hedgehogs (Atelerix albiventris). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2020; 257(6):618-623. doi: 10.2460/javma.257.6.618. PMID: 32857008.

Lee HW, Machin H, Adami C. Peri-anaesthetic mortality and nonfatal gastrointestinal complications in pet rabbits: a retrospective study on 210 cases. Vet Anaesth Analg. 2018; 45(4):520-528. doi: 10.1016/j.vaa.2018.01.010. Epub 2018 Feb 27. PMID: 29759902.

Liu S, Wang R, Luo D, et al. Effects of electroacupuncture on recovery of the electrophysiological properties of the rabbit gastrocnemius after contusion: an in vivo animal study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015; 15:69. doi: 10.1186/s12906-015-0601-z. PMID: 25887510; PMCID: PMC4376503.

National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement, and Reduction of Animals in Research. Grimace scales. Newcastle Universit. Available at Accessed Dec 16, 2020.

Ozawa SM, Hawkins MG, Drazenovich TL, Kass PH, Knych HK. Pharmacokinetics of maropitant citrate in New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Am J Vet Res. 2019 Oct;80(10):963-968. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.80.10.963. PMID: 31556710.

Reijgwart ML, Schoemaker NJ, Pascuzzo R, Leach MC, Stodel M, de Nies L, Hendriksen CFM, van der Meer M, Vinke CM, van Zeeland YRA. The composition and initial evaluation of a grimace scale in ferrets after surgical implantation of a telemetry probe. PLoS One. 2017; 12(11):e0187986. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187986. PMID: 29131858; PMCID: PMC5683639.

Schroeder CA, Smith LJ. Respiratory rates and arterial blood-gas tensions in healthy rabbits given buprenorphine, butorphanol, midazolam, or their combinations. J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2011; 50(2):205-11. PMID: 21439214; PMCID: PMC3061421.

Wenger S. Anesthesia and analgesia in rabbits and rodents. J Exotic Pet Med. 2012; 21(1):7-16. doi: 10.1053/j.jepm.2011.11.010.



Comolli J, d’Ovidio D, Adami C, Schnellbacher R. Technological advances in exotic pet anesthesia and analgesia. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract. 2019; 22(3):419-439. doi: 10.1016/j.cvex.2019.06.003. PMID: 31395323.

d’Ovidio D, Adami C. Locoregional anesthesia in exotic pets. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract. 2019; 22(2):301-314. doi: 10.1016/j.cvex.2019.01.007. PMID: 30961902.

d’Ovidio D, Rota S, Noviello E, Briganti A. Nerve stimulator-guided sciatic-femoral block in pet rabbits undergoing hind limb surgery. J Exotic Pet Med. 2014; 23(1):91-95. doi: 10.1053/j.jepm.2013.11.014.

Eshar D, Wilson J. Epidural anesthesia and analgesia in ferrets. Lab Anim (NY). 2010; 39(11):339-40. doi: 10.1038/laban1110-339. PMID: 20962759.

Fonseca C, Server A, Esteves M, Barastegui D, Rosal M, Fontecha CG, Soldado F. An ultrasound-guided technique for axillary brachial plexus nerve block in rabbits. Lab Anim (NY). 2015; 44(5):179-84. doi: 10.1038/laban.732. PMID: 25897939.

Lennox AM. Clinique technique: Small exotic companion mammal dentistry – anesthetic considerations. J Exotic Pet Med. 2008; 17(2):102-106. doi: 10.1053/j.jepm.2008.03.007.

Peña T, Campoy L, de Matos R. Investigation of a maxillary nerve block technique in healthy New Zealand White rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Am J Vet Res. 2020; 81(11):843-848. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.81.11.843. PMID: 33107754.

Schnellbacher RW, Divers SJ, Comolli JR, et al. Effects of intravenous administration of lidocaine and buprenorphine on gastrointestinal tract motility and signs of pain in New Zealand White rabbits after ovariohysterectomy. Am J Vet Res. 2017; 78(12):1359-1371. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.78.12.1359. PMID: 29182394.

Serra RM, Dominguez S, Vilalta L, Palacios C. Ultrasound-guided epidural nerve block in a domestic dwarf rabbit. Vet Rec Case Reports. 2020; 8: e001071. doi: 10.1136/vetreccr-2020-001071.



Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine

Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

Quesenberry KE, Mans C, Orcutt C, Carpenter JW. Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2020.

Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia


To cite this page:

d'Ovidio D. Sedation and pain management of exotic companion mammals. Oct 29, 2020. LafeberVet website. Available at