Comparison of side effects between buprenorphine and meloxicam used postoperatively in Dutch belted rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

Coreen S. Cooper, Kelly A. Metcalf-Pate, Christopher E. Barat, Judith A. Cook, Diana G. Scorpio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


One of the challenges facing veterinarians and investigators who use rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) as a surgical model in biomedical research is choosing an appropriate and efficacious postoperative analgesic without systemic complications and side effects. The objective of this study was to evaluate the gastrointestinal side effects associated with the postoperative use of buprenorphine in Dutch Belted rabbits. We also evaluated the analgesic meloxicam as an alternative to opioid administration during the postoperative period. Rabbits were assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups during the postoperative period after routine ovariohysterectomy: buprenorphine (n = 10), meloxicam (n = 10), and incisional infiltration with bupivicaine (no treatment control; n = 10). Feed intake, fecal production, weight loss, urine output, and other physiologic parameters were monitored and behavior and pain assessments were performed for 7 d after surgery and compared with baseline values collected before surgery. All rabbits showed decreased pellet consumption, fecal production, and weight on day 1 after surgery. This effect was severe in some rabbits that received bupivicaine; therefore treatment of this entire group with metoclopramide, fluids, and hay was instituted to reverse gut stasis. No significant difference in feed consumption and fecal production was present between the buprenorphine- and meloxicam-treated groups. On the basis of these results, meloxicam appears to be a suitable alternative or adjunct to buprenorphine for alleviating postoperative pain with minimal risk of anorexia and gastrointestinal ileus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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