Chemical analgesia for velvet antler removal in deer

Chemical analgesia for velvet antler removal in deer
Peer reviewed


There is a legal requirement to provide analgesia for velvet antler removal in New Zealand. Currently, this is achieved using local anaesthetic blockade, with or without systemically administered sedative/analgesic agents, or by compression in 1-year-old stags. Lignocaine hydrochloride 2% is most commonly used and is most effective when administered as a high-dose ring block. Combinations of various amino-amide local anaesthetic agents can achieve rapid onset and prolonged duration of analgesia, though concerns about drug residues and carcinogenic potential of a lignocaine metabolite have led to consideration of the amino-ester family of local anaesthetics as alternatives. Systemically administered analgesics, including opioids, alpha-2-adrenergic agents and ketamine provide dose-dependent sedation and analgesia. However, none are sufficient, alone or in combination, to produce surgical analgesia at currently recommended dose rates and when reversal agents are given, analgesic effects are usually reversed as well as sedation. Thus, local anaesthetic blockade is still indicated, though the potential for drug or drug-metabolite residues in velvet antler remains a concern. The need for and effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for post-operative analgesia requires investigation. Amitriptyline, locally administered opioid agonists, tramadol and other systemically administered agents may warrant future investigation for surgical and post-operative analgesia for velvet antler removal.
KEY WORDS: Deer, analgesia, velvet antler, antler removal, local anaesthesia, systemic analgesia, NSAIDs, post-operative analgesia

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