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Butorphanol Tartrate


Butorphanol Tartrate is a controlled substance that is used as a cough suppressant as well as a short-acting analgesic. It also has some sedating properties. It may be helpful to think of butorphanol as being similar to codeine: lower doses can be used to suppress cough, higher doses for pain relief.

Butorphanol is an opiate medicine. Most opiates cane be used to suppress cough but, unlike the other opiates, butorphanol does not suppress the respiratory center of the brain (and does not slow respiration nor make breathing more shallow).

It may also be used for pain relief following a surgical procedure. It acts rapidly but only for a short time, so usually a longer acting pain reliever is used in combination.

Side Effects

The chief side effect is sedation.

Occasionally, it can cause diarrhea or appetite loss.

Interactions with other Drugs

Butorphanol antagonizes other opiates such as morphine, oxymorphone, meperidine, etc. If butorphanol is used with any other drugs that have sedating properties, these sedating properties will be more blatant.

Butorphanol should not be used in conjunction with antihistamines or tranquilizers as it may lead to respiratory suppression.

Cautions and Concerns

Butorphanol should be used cautiously or not at all in patients with: liver disease, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease), head trauma, hydrocephalus, or in very debilitated patients.

It should not be used in pregnancy and lactation.

Veterinarian’s Comment

If Butorphanol causes excessive sedation in a pet, this can generally be corrected by a dose adjustment. Such dose adjustments should only be made under the direct supervision of a veterinarian in order to prevent lack of efficacy of the drug or possible side effects.


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