Major Uses

Ketamine is a dissociative general anesthetic that is commonly used in cats to prevent chronic pain or pain associated with surgery. It is sometimes used for the same purposes in dogs.

Common Precautions

Caution should be exercised when using ketamine in animals suffering from significant hypertension, heart failure, or arterial aneurysms. Caution should also be used when administering the drug to animals with hepatic or renal insufficiency. The drug is known for increasing CSF pressure, and therefore should not be used in patients with elevated pressures or head trauma. Cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy should not take ketamine.

Common negative side effects associated with ketamine include respiratory depression, vocalization, emesis, erratic and prolonged recovery, spastic jerking movements, dyspnea, muscular tremors, convulsions, hypertonicity, opisthotonos, and cardiac arrest. Ketamine can also cause hypothermia in cats.

Ketamine should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if any alarming symptoms occur or if an overdose is suspected. The most common symptom of an overdose is significant respiratory depression.


Ketamine should be stored in a childproof, light resistant container at room temperature. It should be stored where children and pets will not be able to reach it. While the solution is known to darken from contact with light, this has no effect on the drug's potency. If a precipitate appears, the solution should not be used.


A typical dose of ketamine for cats is 11-33 mg/kg. When mixed with other drugs, lower doses may be necessary. For dogs, a typical dose is .1-1 mg/kg every 4-6 hours. Should a dose by forgotten, it should be administered as soon as possible. If the next scheduled dose is near, the missed dose should be skipped andd the regularly scheduled dose should be administered. Two doses of ketamine should not be given at the same time.

Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.