Buprenorphine is considered a partial agonist at mu opioid receptors. Due to its receptor-binding properties, it is considered to have a delayed onset of action and long-acting properties to exert its analgesic effects with few adverse effects. In veterinary medicine, this can provide relief in mild to moderate pain sensation such as trauma, tissue spasms or pain associated with tissue inflammation. It is generally not referred for acute pain since analgesia may not develop fully until 30 minutes but a 6-8 hour analgesic effect is typical.
Buprenorphine is not recommended in animals with kidney or Addison’s disease. Potential adverse effects include sedation, respiratory depression, pupils dilating and vomiting. Oral transmucosal would probably be the most reasonable outpatient buprenorphine management, although buprenorphine could/has been given regularly pre-operatively either intravenously or intramuscularly. Transdermal preparations have been shown to be subtherapeutic in comparison to other options.
Multimodal analgesia appears to be the best approach to pain management in cats, so consideration should be made as buprenorphine to be utilized in conjunction with an NSAID or local anesthetic (Steagall, 2014). Pharmacy Solutions can provide dose dependent flavored suspensions to facilitate pain management chronically.