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Butorphanol For Veterinary Use

By Evan Ware, DVM

Basic Information

Butorphanol tartrate is an opiate agonist used by some veterinarians primarily as an anti-tussive, to help alleviate coughing. In some cases, it can be used to treat pain in animals, such as colic in horses, or as a pre-anesthetic.

Treating Dogs and Cats with Butorphanol

Butorphanol is believed to be a potent yet appropriate medication when used to decrease cough, and when administered according to a veterinary prescription. It commonly is used for sedation purposes in the veterinary field.

Butorphanol Precautions and Potential Side-Effects

The medication should not be administered to animals with a known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. Animals suffering from nervous system dysfunction, a history of liver disease, or from head trauma also should avoid butorphanol.

Butorphanol should be used with caution in elderly animals or in animals with kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and other serious conditions.

Butorphanol can be appropriate for use in animals when prescribed by a veterinarian. However, as with all medications, some patients can be more sensitive to the drug and can experience certain side-effects. The most-common side effects include lack of appetite and general sedation, or paradoxical excitement.

If the animal exhibits symptoms such as swelling of the face, skin rash, hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, this can indicate an allergic reaction to the drug. Under such circumstances, the veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

Butorphanol tartrate is commercially available as Torbutrol®.

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Therapeutic Class
Opiate Partial Agonist

Dogs, Horses

May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Pain, Colic in horses, relief of chronic cough in dogs

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About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Evan Ware, DVM

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of interest include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.