Heads or Tails? Anesthesiologist Finds New Route to Sedating Horses

Administering detomidine gel to mares intravaginally might be easier and more effective than giving it intravenously.
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Heads or Tails? Anesthesiologist Finds New Route to Sedating Horses
Seddighi reported that sedation was deeper and longer-lasting in the intravaginally administered gel group than in the IV group. | Photo: Michelle Anderson
Detomidine, a commonly used sedative, was formulated as a gel so veterinarians could conveniently give it to their patients sublingually—beneath the tongue–where horses absorb it into their mucosa. Some horses, however, refuse to cooperate with this pain-free protocol. They ungraciously spit it out, swallow it whole, or evade the oral dosing syringe altogether.

So much for achieving the desired calming effects without resorting to a sharp needle.

Reza Seddighi, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVAA, an associate professor specializing in anesthesiology and pain management in the University of Tennessee’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences,  in Knoxville, reasoned there might be another route to sedation—at least when patients are mares.

At the 65th Annual American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 7-11, in Denver, Colorado, Seddighi shared the results of a study  in which he and colleagues compared the efficacy of administering detomidine gel intravaginally, to intravenously, (IV) or sublingually. Their findings included data from two previous studies

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Betsy Lynch has been an equine industry professional for 30-plus years as an editor, writer, photographer, and publishing consultant. Her work appears in breed, performance, and scientific journals. Betsy owns her own business, Third Generation Communications. She is a graduate of Colorado State University, continues to keep horses, and lives near Fort Collins, Colorado.

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