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Pentobarbital

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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Overview

  • Pentobarbital is a barbiturate. It was first introduced into veterinary medicine in 1931 as an anesthetic agent. At that time, it represented a major breakthrough for sedation and anesthesia of animals.
  • Pentobarbital has been largely superseded by other anesthetics, but it is still occasionally used for sedation and to control epileptic seizures.
  • Pentobarbital is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • The drug is classified as a Class II controlled substance.
  • This drug is not likely to be prescribed outside of a veterinary setting.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Solfoton® (ECR Pharmacy), Luminal Sodium® (Sanofi Winthrop), Nembutal® (Abbott), and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: Plain pentobarbital solutions have been unavailable for some time. Euthanasia solutions containing 390 mg/mL pentobarbital plus 50 mg/mL phenytoin are available from a variety of manufacturers

    Uses of Pentobarbital

  • Originally introduced as a sedative and anesthetic, pentobarbital is now most commonly used for euthanasia.
  • Pentobarbital is still sometimes used as an anesthetic, in experimental situations, and is used to control seizures that do not respond to other medications.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, pentobarbital may cause side effects in some animals.
  • Pentobarbital should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • It should also be avoided in animals with porphyria.
  • Pentobarbital should not be used to treat seizures caused by lidocaine toxicity.
  • It should be used cautiously in animals with liver disease.
  • Pentobarbital can cause excitement or slowed breathing.
  • The drug may interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving might interact with pentobarbital. Such drugs include other barbiturates, beta blockers, doxycycline, phenylbutazone, chloramphenicol, and rifampin.

    How Pentobarbital is Supplied

  • Pentobarbital is available as 15 mg, 16 mg, 30 mg, 60 mg, 90 mg, and 100 mg tablets, and 16 mg capsules.
  • An elixir is available in concentrations of 15 mg/5 mL and 20 mg/5 mL.
  • The injectable formulation of pentobarbital is available as 30 mg/mL, 60 mg/mL, 65 mg/mL, and 130 mg/mL.
  • A suppository form is also available.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • When used orally for anesthesia, pentobarbital is dosed at 14 to 15 mg per pound (28 to 30 mg/kg) on an empty stomach. On a full stomach, pentobarbital is dosed at about 31.5 mg per pound (63 mg/kg).
  • To control seizures, pentobarbital is dosed at 1 to 7.5 mg per pound (2 to 15 mg/kg) intravenously or 2.5 mg per pound per hour (5 mg/kg/hr) intravenously to effect.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects.




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