Metacam For Bunnies

Rabbits tolerate Metacam a lot better than for example dogs and cats. There is always a small risk for stomach problems to develop when on Metacam. This risk is however a lot smaller in rabbits than in for example dogs. Most rabbits do not develop any side effects from Metacam and some can be kept on a lifelong treatment to prevent chronic pain without any problems. However, if there is any kidney disease present it is not recommended to use Metacam in your pet.

Description

Metacam is not officially licensed or regulated for use in rabbits. Yet, it’s a relatively common treatment option anyway This is an interesting phenomenon, but it’s nothing to worry about. Very few medications are officially licensed for use in rabbits. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one major factor is that rabbits simply aren’t as commonly kept as pets, when compared to dogs or cats. Thus, many manufacturers focus on developing medications for use in dogs and cats. There are significant costs involved with getting a drug licensed for use in another species, so many manufacturers don’t bother getting their products licensed for rabbit applications.

This leads many veterinarians to prescribe Metacam as an “off-label” treatment. This essentially means that they prescribe the medication for a use that it’s not officially meant to treat – or in this case, for an animal that the drug is not officially meant for. Off-label use of medications is legal, and many rabbit-savvy vets use the practice frequently. However, if you go to a vet that is not experienced in the treatment of rabbits, he or she may be hesitant to prescribe off-label medications. This is one of the many reasons we recommend finding a knowledgeable vet in your area that has ample experience with bunnies.

Features of Metacam For Bunnies

Anesthetic and analgesic pharmacokinetic studies are continually helping us to revise our dosages and protocols for exotic species. A recent example is Meloxicam use in rabbits; while earlier formularies suggest a dosage of 0.2 mg/kg PO, a 2013 pharmacokinetic study suggested clinically useful dosages are likely much higher. See the following article for more information:  Pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in rabbits after oral administration of single and multiple doses. 

Our current dosage recommendation for short-term use of Meloxicam in well-hydrated, normovolemic rabbits without evidence of renal dysfunction is 0.8-1.0 mg/kg PO. The authors of the study conclude: “Plasma concentrations of meloxicam for rabbits in the present study were proportionally higher than those previously reported for rabbits receiving 0.2 mg of meloxicam/kg and were similar to those determined for animals of other species that received clinically effective doses. A dose of 1 mg/kg may be necessary to achieve clinically effective circulating concentrations of meloxicam in rabbits, although further studies are needed.

Uses/benefits of Metacam For Bunnies:

Meloxicam is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which reduces pain due to its anti-inflammatory effects. It is widely used both short term, eg after surgery, and long term, eg for arthritis etc.

Risks and concerns:

Liver disease can lead to reduced metabolism of the drug, and it can build up to dangerous levels as a result. Dehydrated or shocked animals, or those with other reasons for reduced blood flow to the kidneys, can suffer kidney damage with drugs of this class. It’s therefore important to make sure rabbits are hydrated during treatment, and vets may opt to give it at the end of surgery when normal blood pressure is restored. Durgs of this class can also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. It’s unclear how much of a concern this is in rabbits as they do not vomit, and blood is difficult to see in the faeces, but this concern should be borne in mind. Very importantly, it should not be given with other anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids.

Dosage

Small mammals: Rabbits: 0.3 – 0.6mg/kg subcutaneously (underneath the skin) or by mouth every 24 hours; (this equates to 0.2 – 0.4ml/kg ie millilitres of liquid per kilogram of your rabbit’s bodyweight, if using the dog liquid.) Studies have shown that rabbits may require a dose exceeding 0.3mg/kg every 24 hours to achieve optimal plasma levels of Meloxicam over a 24-hour interval. Doses of 1.5mg/kg per day (1ml per kilo of the dog liquid) subcutaneiously or by mouth were well tolerated in healthy rabbits in good hydration for 5 days. Do not alter the dosage that your vet has prescribed without discussing this with your vet first.

Prices of Metacam For Bunnies

$45.10 – $105.90

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