Fentanyl: Effective at Relieving Pain in Animals

Fentanyl is an opiate narcotic medication used by veterinarians to treat animal patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. It can also be used as a sedative or tranquilizer in animal patients.

fentanyl for treating pain in animals

Fentanyl Pharmacology

Fentanyl is effective at relieving pain because it causes depression of the central nervous system of the animal, which regulates all sensation through the body.

How Is Fentanyl Supplied?

Fentanyl is registered for use in the veterinary field under the trade name Innovar® and in a variety of generic formulations available through a veterinary compounding pharmacy. This medication is a strictly controlled narcotic and therefore requires a prescription from a veterinarian with an active license through the DEA.

Fentanyl can be formulated in either an injectible solution or a topical patch formulation. The treating veterinarian will determine the dosage, formulation, and frequency of administration. Resulting from the highly addictive nature of this medication, it should be administered exactly according to the instructions provided by the veterinarian.

Fentanyl Precautions

Fentanyl should not be prescribed or administered to a patient who has experienced allergic reactions to it in the past. It should also be avoided in patients with pre-existing lung disease, as Fentanyl can cause the breathing activity in the animal to diminish.

If the animal patient has a fever, then the use of Fentanyl should be closely guarded, as the increase in body temperature may result in a greater amount of the drug being absorbed by the body, therefore increasing the risk of overdose.

If the animal is prescribed the Fentanyl patch, the patches must be kept away from young children and other pets. The animal must also be prevented from eating the patch, so in some cases an Elizabethan collar may be required.

Possible Side Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is generally safe and effective for use in veterinary medicine. However, some animals may be more susceptible to experiencing certain side effects. The most common possible side effects of Fentanyl include shallow or depressed breathing and lethargy or general weakness. If the animal experiences shallow breathing or a drastic drop in pulse rate, the veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

Side effects attributed to using the topical Fentanyl patch include a mild skin rash located at the site.

Author: Giano Panzarella