by Dr David Rizkalla, The Gables Veterinary Group, Monash, ACT
Zoletil is a combination of two drugs, tiletamine and zolazepam. It’s commonly used in general practice, even though the bottle reads, ‘Anaesthesia and immobilisation of dogs, cats, zoo and wild animals’.
What’s good about it
Zoeltil was originally intended for use with game animals. When a wildlife vet needed to transfer something like a zebra from one place to another, Zoletil would have been used as a tranquilliser or for sedation.
In a small animal practice, it is a very effective drug to use with aggressive animals and fractious cats. Its advantage over ketamine diazepam is that it is painless. Ketamine stings when injected into the muscle so it can cause an aggressive reaction.
Zoletil is a very stable anaesthetic that has a wide therapeutic dose range. A dose as small as two milligrams per kilogram of animal will anaesthetise most animals so they can be intubated. The animal can then be maintained on a more readily changeable anaesthetic like isoflurane.
A dose of 12 milligrams per kilogram is enough anaesthetic for a very long surgical procedure without the need for any other anaesthetics. In most cases, there would be no need to maintain and top up. Zoletil is also very effective as a pre-medicant when euthanasing pets.
What’s not so good
Zoletil is very dose dependent. If you give an animal too much, you can’t reverse it. You simply have to wait until they come around. It’s also quite pricey compared to related drugs such as ketamine diazepam.