Lapis ISSN 2398-2969


Contributor(s): Peter Dobromylskyj, Paul Flecknell, Lesa Longley, Gina Neiger-Aeschbacher, Lesa Thompson


  • Total injectable IM combinations of anesthetics for short diagnostic or surgical procedures play a significant role in rabbit anesthesia.
  • Injectable sedatives are important.
  • Although single substances especially those with only mild sedative effects generally are unsatisfactory for radiography, ear cleaning, or examination of the oral cavity, their calming effect will help for IV catheter or face mask placement to administer drugs and gases/volatile agents, respectively.
  • Sedatives as part of a pre-anesthetic medication will reduce the amount of anesthetic requirements of injectable and inhalational drugs to induce and maintain state of unconsciousness.
  • At the same time they will reduce and minimize the risks that are associated with general anesthesia, such as respiratory and cardiovascular depression.

Evaluation of patient

  • A clinical evaluation of the rabbit's health status prior to sedation will help identify the most frequent pre-existing problem such as pasteurellosis Pasteurellosis.
  • It is important to weigh the rabbit accurately even if only a couple of days have passed since the last visit.
  • It is crucial to dose to effect, to titrate drugs used to individual needs.
  • Although this potentially stepwise procedure is time consuming and sometimes difficult, it helps to avoid overdose and resulting complications.
  • Titration of drugs is especially valuable in the juvenile, geriatric, sick or debilitated rabbit.

Route of administration

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Huynh M, Poumeyrol S, Pignon C et al (2015) Intramuscular administration of alfaxalone for sedation in rabbits. Vet Rec 176 (10), 255 PubMed.
  • Bellini L, Banzato T, Contiero B et al (2014) Evaluation of sedation and clinical effects of midazolam with ketamine or dexmedetomidine in pet rabbits. Vet Rec 175 (15), 372 PubMed
  • Grint N J, Smith H E & Senior J M (2008) Clinical evaluation of alfaxalone in cyclodectrin for the induction of anesthesia in rabbits. Vet Rec 163 (13), 395-396 PubMed.
  • González Gil A, Silván G & Illera J C (2005) Effects of barbiturate administration on hepatic and renal biochemical parameters in New Zealand white rabbits. Contemp Top Lab Anim Sci 44 (6), 43-45 PubMed.
  • Nakamura S, Sakamaki H, Suzuki M et al (2004) [Effect of flumazenil on hypoglossal and phrenic nerves activities in rabbits.] Masui 53 (7), 753-760 PubMed.
  • González Gil A, Illera J C, Silván G et al (2003) Effects of the anesthetic/tranquilizer treatments on selected plasma biochemical parameters in NZW rabbits. Lab Anim 37 (2), 155-161 PubMed.
  • Borkowski R & Karas A Z (1999) Sedation and anesthesia of pet rabbits. Clin Tech Small Animal Pract 14 (1), 44-49 PubMed.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Flecknell P (2016) Anesthesia of Common Laboratory Species: Special considerations. In: Laboratory Animal Anesthesia. 4th edn. Academic Press, Elsevier, London. pp 218-226.
  • Flecknell, P A & Thomas A A (2015) Comparative Anesthesia and Analgesia of Laboratory Animals. In: Lumb and Jones' Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia. Eds: Grimm K A, Lamont L A, Tranquilli W J, Greene S A & Robertson S A. Wiley Blackwell. pp 754-763.
  • Eatwell K (2014) Analgesia, Sedation and Anesthesia. In: Manual of Rabbit Medicine. Eds. Meredith A & Lord B. BSAVA. pp 138-159.
  •  Varga M (2014) Anesthesia and Analgesia. In: Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. 2nd edn. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford. pp 178-202.
  • Hawkins, M G & Pascoe P J (2012) Anesthesia, Analgesia and Sedation of Small Mammals. In: Ferrets Rabbits & Rodents: Clinical Medicine & Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Saunders. pp 429-451.