ISSN 2398-2969      

Anesthesia: injectable



  • Injectable anesthetics are commonly used in rabbits combined with analgesics, sedatives or inhalational anesthetics for a balanced anesthesia.
In rabbits, the sole use of inhalational anesthetics commonly produces a low-quality anesthetic event.
  • Injectable anesthetics are more commonly used for pre-medication and induction, and are uncommonly used for maintenance (as the use of gases is preferred).
  • Injectable drugs are easy to administer, inexpensive, relatively safe and effective, and no additional technical equipment is necessary Injection techniques.
  • Depending on the drug used, disadvantages include the lack of precise control over their effects, prolonged recovery, and physiological changes such as hypoxemia, hypotension, and hypercapnia.
  • A significant number of anesthetic protocols in rabbits using just injectable drugs have been described. Many protocols have been developed for research or experimental purposes and used in healthy rabbits, without endotracheal intubation of IV catheter placement, and some of them did not even assess recovery. Therefore, many of these protocols do not have any clinical utility in pet rabbit medicine and surgery.
  • A thorough assessment of the patient's health and evaluation of likely responses to various drug combinations is paramount to the use of injectable anesthetic agents. Breed, sex and individual animal differences in drug response exist, making the skill of the veterinary practitioner a vital component of the anesthetic protocol. 
  • The use of an injectable induction agent followed by maintenance of anesthesia with a volatile agent may reduce the risks associated with using injectable agents alone as lower doses may be used.

Print off the factsheet All about anaesthesia to give to your clients.

Route of administration

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to start a free trial to access all Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds and videos, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Santos M, Viñuela A, Vela A A et al (2016) Single-syringe ketamine-propofol for induction of anesthesia in rabbits. Vet Anaes Analgesia 43 (5), 561-565 PubMed.
  • Huynh M, Poumeyrol S, Pignon C et al (2015) Intramuscular administration of alfaxalone for sedation in rabbits. Vet Rec 176 (10), 255 PubMed.
  • Mazaheri-Khameneh R, Sarrafzadeh-Rezaei F, Asri-Rezaei S et al (2012) Comparison of time to loss of consciousness and maintenance of anesthesia following intraosseous and intravenous administration of propofol in rabbits. J Am Vet Med Assoc 241 (1), 73-80 PubMed.
  • Wenger S (2012) Anesthesia and analgesia in rabbits and rodents. J Exotic Pet Med 21 (1), 7-16 SciDirect.
  • Murphy K L, Roughan J V, Baxter M G et al (2010) Anaesthesia with a combination of ketamine and medetomidine in the rabbit: effect of premedication with buprenorphine. Vet Anaesth Analg 37 (3), 222-229 PubMed.
  • Grint N J, Smith H E & Senior J M (2008) Clinical evaluation of alfaxalone in cyclodextrin for the induction of anaesthesia in rabbits. Vet Rec 163 (13), 395-396 PubMed.
  • Grint N J & Murison P J (2007) Peri-operative body temperatures in isoflurane-anesthetized rabbits following ketamine-midazolam or ketamine-medetomidine. Vet Anesth Analg 34 (3), 181-189 PubMed.
  • Yershov A L, Jordan B S, Fudge J M et al (2007) Influence of the mode of ventilation on ketamine/xylazine requirements in rabbits. Vet Anesth Analg 34 (3), 157-163 PubMed.
  • Chen W H, Lee C Y, Hung K C et al (2006) The direct cardiac effect of propofol on intact isolated rabbit heart. Acta Anesthesiol Taiwan 44 (1), 19-23 PubMed.
  • Martin-Cancho M F, Lima J R, Luis L et al (2006) Relationship of bispectral index values, hemodynamic changes and recovery times during sevoflurane or propofol anesthesia in rabbits. Lab Anim 40 (1), 28-42 PubMed.
  • Orr H E, Roughan J V & Flecknell P A (2005) Assessment of ketamine and medetomidine anesthesia in the domestic rabbit. Vet Anes Analg 32 (5), 271-279 PubMed.
  • Hedenqvist P, Orr H, Roughan J V et al (2002) Anaesthesia with ketamine/medetomidine in the rabbit: influence of route of administration and the effect of combination with butorphanol. Vet Anaesth Analg 29 (1), 14-19 PubMed.
  • Borkowski R & Karas A Z (1999) Sedation and anesthesia of pet rabbits. Clin Tech Small Animal Pract 14 (1), 44-49 PubMed.
  • Flecknell P A & Liles J H (1996) Halothane anaesthesia in the rabbit - a comparison of the effects of medetomidine, acepromazine and midazolam on breath-holding during induction. J Ass Vet Anaesth 23 (1), 11-14 VetMedResource.
  • Aeschbacher G (1995) Rabbit anesthesia. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet 17 (8), 1003-1011 VetMedResource.
  • Brammer D W, Doerning B J, Chrisp C E et al (1991) Anesthetic and nephrotoxic effects of Telazol in New Zealand White rabbits. Lab Anim Sci 41 (5), 432-435 PubMed.
  • Peeters M, Gil D, Teske E et al (1988) Four methods for general anaesthesia in the rabbit: a comparative study. Lab Anim 22 (4), 355-360 PubMed.
  • Sedgwick C J (1986) Anesthesia for rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Food Anim Pract (3), 731-736 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Flecknell P (2016) Anesthesia of Common Laboratory Species: Special considerations. In: Laboratory Animal Anesthesia. 4th edn.  London: Academic Press, Elsevier. 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.
  • Meredith A (2015) BSAVA Small Animal Formulary Part B: Exotic Pets. 9th edn. BSAVA.
  • Heard D (2014) Lagomorpha (Rabbits, Hares, and Pykas). In: Zoo Animal and Wildlife Immobilization and Anesthesia. 2nd edn. Eds: West G, Heard D & Caulkett N. Wiley Blackwell, USA. pp 879-891.
  • 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.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2001) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Elsevier, UK. pp 410.
  • Huerkamp M J (1995) Anesthesia and Post-operative Management of Rabbits and Pocket Pets. In: Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XII Small Animal Practice. Ed: Bonagura J D. Philadelphia: W B Saunders Co. pp 1322-1327.
  • Harvey R C & Walberg J (1987) Special Considerations for Anesthesia and Analgesia in Research Animals. In: Principles & Practice of Veterinary Anesthesia. Ed: Short C E. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins. pp 380-392.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!


To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field