Major Uses

Medetomidine belongs to the class of medications called alpha 2 adrenergic agonists. It is a sedative that provides both muscle relaxation and pain relief. It is primarily used to produce sedation for short veterinarian procedures. The drug may also be used as a preanesthetic before general or local anesthesia. Medetomidine is for use in dogs; there is very little information available regarding the use of this drug in cats.

Following intramuscular injection, the effects of medetomidine are observable within 10 to 15 minutes. The effects are more rapid following intravenous injection and generally occur within 5 minutes.

Common Precautions

Vomiting sometimes occurs within 3 to 5 minutes after intramuscular injection of medetomidine. Other adverse effects associated with medetomidine use include low body temperature, slowed breathing, and slowed heart rate with partial block.

Although the analgesia associated with administration of medetomidine only lasts 15 to 30 minutes, sedation can continue for up to 2 hours. Complete recovery from the drug may take as long as 4 hours. To significantly reduce recovery time, atipamezole can be used to reverse medetomidine's effects.

Even though animals undergoing treatment with medetomidine may appear completely sedated, they are still able to move, bite, kick, and scratch in response to sharp auditory stimulation. Caution must be used when handling these animals.

Medetomidine is not for use in animals under 12 weeks of age. This drug is also not for use during the last trimester of pregnancy; medetomidine may induce labor. Extreme caution is needed when administering this medication to animals with low blood pressure, breathing problems, heart disease, a seizure disorder, shock, or severe kidney or liver disease. Caution is also necessary when using this drug in severely debilitated animals.

Medetomidine may interact with numerous other medications and supplements, including butorphanol, fentanyl, propofol, atropine, and meperidine. Medetomidine should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Any known or suspected overdose should be reported to a veterinarian right away.


Medetomidine should be stored at room temperature, away from children and animals. This medication should not be allowed to freeze.


Medetomidine is available in 1 mg/ml concentration in 10 ml vials.

To produce sedation in dogs, medetomidine is typically dosed at 0.75 mg/square meter of body surface area IV or 1 mg/square meter of body surface IM. In cats, medetomidine is typically dosed at 20 to 40 mcg/lb (40 to 80 mcg/kg) IM.

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.