Ketamine (Ketaset®, Vetalar®, Vetaket®) for Dogs and Cats
Overview of Ketamine for Dogs and Cats
- Ketamine, also known by the brand names of Ketaset®, Ketaflo®, Vetalar® or Vetaket®, belongs to a class of drugs known as dissociative hypnotics and is similar to phencyclidine (PCP). It works by disrupting the central nervous system and induces a cataleptic state. For dogs and cats, Ketamine is often used for restraint, sedation, pain, and/or anesthesia.
- Ketamine is a rapidly acting general anesthetic, which means that it prevents sensations such as pain.
- Local or regional anesthesia prevents pain in a limited area or in a specific body region.
- General anesthesia prevents pain and also causes unconsciousness and generalized muscle relaxation that provides significant pain relief, but does not provide relaxation of the muscles.
- After intramuscular injection, the effects of ketamine are seen within 10 minutes. The effects after intravenous injection are seen within 1 minute.
- For aggressive cats unable to be restrained for injection, ketamine can be sprayed into the mouth or eyes. It is readily absorbed from these surfaces and results in enough sedation to allow handling of the cat. It does not damage the mouth or eyes. Cats eyes remain open when treated with Ketamine, therefore, they need to be protected with lubricant.
- Ketamine is approved for use in humans, cats, and primates. It is widely used as an extra-label drug in other companion animals.
- Due to its potential for abuse and misuse, ketamine is considered a controlled substance in some states.
- Ketamine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
Brand Names or Other Names of Ketamine
- This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
- Human formulations: Aneket (Neon Labs)
- Veterinary formulations: Ketaset® (Fort Dodge), Vetalar® (Fort Dodge), Vetaket® (Lloyd), and Ketaflo®
Uses of Ketamine for Dogs and Cats
- In cats, ketamine is used for restraint as well as anesthesia.
- In other species, ketamine is used to sedate before anesthesia and as part of an injectable anesthetic protocol.
- Ketamine has recently been used to control pain.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, ketamine can cause side effects in some animals.
- Ketamine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Ketamine should not be used in animals with hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, head trauma, or known seizures.
- Since ketamine is known to increase blood pressure, as well as the pressure within the eye, it should be avoided in animals with eye injuries.
- Ketamine does not relax the muscles at the back of the throat so it should be avoided in procedures involving the pharynx, larynx, and trachea.
- Since ketamine does not offer muscle relaxation, it should not be used as the sole agent for anesthesia. It works best when combined with another medication to provide the most effective anesthesia.
- Ketamine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with ketamine. Such drugs include narcotics, diazepam, halothane, chloramphenicol, and thyroid medication.
- Adverse effects of ketamine include increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate, respiratory depression, vocalization, erratic and prolonged recovery, spastic jerking movements, and muscle tremors. In rare instances, ketamine has been shown to induce seizures.
- As with most anesthetics, after administration of ketamine, the eyes remain open and unable to blink. To prevent drying or damage to the surface of the eyes, lubrication is strongly recommended. Some pets are extremely sensitive to noises when recovering from Ketamine, therefore, care should be taken to minimize loud noises and handling if possible.
- When given intramuscularly, ketamine injection can be painful.
How Ketamine Is Supplied
- Ketamine is available in 100 mg/ml concentration in 5 ml and 10 ml vials. It is also available in 10 mg/ml concentration in 20, 25, and 50 ml vials and 50 mg/ml concentration in 10 ml vials.
Dosing Information of Ketamine for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian. Ketamine is rarely, if ever, sent with owners to be administered at home. Recently, transdermal patches have become popular to control pain and pets may be sent home with this form. If you’re concerned about costs related to medication, pet insurance may be able to help. Click here to learn more.
- In dogs, ketamine is often combined with other drugs. It is dosed at 3 to 5 mg per pound (6 to 10 mg/kg) intravenous or intramuscular.
- In cats, ketamine is dosed at 3 to 5 mg per pound (6 to 11 mg/kg) intramuscular for restraint and mild sedation.
- In cats, ketamine is also used for anesthesia in combination with other drugs and is dosed at 10 to 15 mg per pound (22 to 33 mg/kg) intramuscular or 1 to 2 mg per pound (2 to 4 mg/kg) intravenous.
- The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse or the development of resistance.