Buprenex For Cats – Usage, Dosage and Side Effects

image of a veterinarian and a feline

Buprenex is common name for the semi-synthetic opioid known as buprenorphine. Like codeine and morphine, it is derived from the poppy plant, a somniferous herb associated with healing. In humans, this drug is used for pain relief and to help heroin addicts safely wean off their habit. Buprenex, like any opioid, blocks pain receptors.

Most opioids slow down resperation, but Buprenex is an exception. It is rather strong (The DEA reports it to be 30 to 50 times stronger than morphine) and should only be used for severe pain. While not very long lasting, Buprenex has fewer addictive qualities than other opioids. Thus, it’s ideal for a short term use.

About Opioids

image of pills and syringe

If you ever had to recover from surgery, odds are the doctors gave you some opioids to recover. As long as you’re not allergic, a dose of morphine is not so bad. You float around the room a couple of times then peacefully drift off. Codeine is a common ingredient in prescription strength cough syrup. It is a muscle relaxant that eases cough and induces drowsiness.

People suffering from broken bones or severe back and neck injury may be prescribed opioids to aid in recovery. The purpose of opioids is to shut off the body’s ability to feel pain. Usually, pain is instructive. It tells the brain to do something about injury to the body. But chronic pain can be debilitating to the point where the person or animal in pain can’t do regular things like eat and sleep; the very things they need to do to get the energy to heal.

Constant pain, of course, causes great mental and emotional distress that can also hamper healing. An opioid reduces the feelings of pain so that the patient is at least comfortable enough to eat and sleep until their body gets better. They do tend to be addictive, so great care must be taken to only take the recommended dosage at the proper intervals.

Buprenex for cats in veterinary care

A veterinarian may anesthetize a cat for surgery by mixing buprenex and ketamine with other drugs. Strictly speaking, the FDA does not approve buprenex for animal use, but vets are allowed to use it under the ‘animal medicinal drug use clarification act’.

The drug is not recommended for cats that are very old or very young. If your cat is a nursing queen, you may have to either bottle feed the kittens or find out if there’s another nursing queen who’s willing to be a foster mother.

Buprenex for cats dosage

The FDA provides no information on appropriate dosage for cats, only approving it for human consumption. However, foreign drug administrations such as the United Kingdom’s DEFRA recommends 10 to 20 micrograms per kilogram of the cat’s weight.

You don’t need to know the metric system to realize this means a little goes a long way. Take care never to overmedicate your cat.

Buprenex for cats side effects

image of a feline

Buprenex is a popular medication because it has relatively few side effects. Emphasis on “relatively”. For one, it blocks other pain relievers so should only be used if no others are necessary. As Buperenex is metabolized in the liver, it should not be used with other medications metabolized the same way.

Oddly enough, another thing Buprenex should not be mixed with is aged cheese. Adult cats aren’t supposed to have dairy anyway, but be careful; (It almost goes without saying; don’t give your cat any alcohol ever.) As with any painkiller, your cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and general stomach upset.

Keep Kitty hydrated. A cat experiencing a Buperenex overdose will be uncoordinated and may drool excessively. This can lead to a coma or even death.

How is Buprenex administered to cats

It is generally given as an injection, which of course should only be done by a trained professional. This is also the fastest way to get the drug into the bloodstream, being near instantaneous. Buprenex is not generally given in an oral dose due to the medication being rapidly destroyed by stomach acids.

However, as a cat has saliva that has a high pH level, your vet may prescribe a tablet or a solution to rub on your cat’s gums. This type of administration can take about 45 minutes to kick in and can last a good six hours. Your vet may be able to administer it as a buccal treatment with an oral syringe.

A compounded medication can be flavored to taste like chicken or liver to get Kitty to cooperate. Follow all of your vet’s instructions precisely.

Contraindications: When not to give

At the end of the day, it should be your veterinarian that makes the call whether or not your cat needs Buprenex, but now that you’re informed on the subject, you’ll know what to expect.  Though not approved of in the U.S., Buprenex has been found effective in relieving short term pain in cats when applied in small doses.

Some cats are allergic to this medication and should not take it at all. Tell your vet about all medications your cat is on, including flea and tick preventatives, as they may not mix with Buperenex. If your cat has a kidney disorder, liver problems, Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism or heart trouble then this opioid may not be right for her.

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  • May 1, 2018
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.