Two doses of subcutaneous methadone for postoperative analgesia in dogs undergoing tibial plateau levelling osteotomies

D Upchurch, K T T Lin, B KuKanich
J Small Anim Pract. 2024 Apr 9. doi: 10.1111/jsap.13728.

Objectives: To evaluate analgesia, sedation and adverse effects of two doses of subcutaneous methadone in dogs undergoing tibial plateau levelling osteotomy.

Materials and methods: Seventeen client-owned dogs undergoing unilateral tibial plateau levelling osteotomy were randomly allocated to receive either 0.25 mg/kg methadone (eight dogs) or 0.5 mg/kg methadone (nine dogs). All dogs were premedicated with methadone and 2 to 6 mcg/kg dexmedetomidine subcutaneously. They were induced and maintained on a standard protocol. All animals received a second dose of methadone subcutaneously 4 hours after premedication and a 4.4 mg/kg dose of carprofen subcutaneously at 8 hours after premedication. During surgery, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature were assessed every 5 minutes. Postoperatively, sedation scores, temperature, heart rate and Glasgow composite modified pain score - short form were assessed for 12 hours postoperatively.

Results: One of 17 (5.9%) dogs had intraoperative hypotension, nine of 17 dogs had intra-operative bradyarrhythmias and 17 of 17 dogs had intra-operative hypothermia. No dogs required intra-operative rescue. Composite modified pain score - short form scores were below the threshold for intervention in 16 of 17 (94.1%) animals. Only one of 17 (5.9%) dogs required rescue analgesia. Median sedation score was 0 by the T8 time point. Adverse events were rare in both groups with only vocalisation and hypothermia reported commonly postoperatively.

Clinical significance: Two doses of methadone at either 0.25 or 0.5 mg/kg administered via subcutaneous injections pre-operatively and 4 hours later, along with 4.4 mg/kg carprofen subcutaneously 8 hours after the first methadone dose appear to provide sufficient pain control for up to 12 hours in dogs undergoing tibial plateau levelling osteotomy.