Elephant Formulary

© 2003-17 Susan K. Mikota DVM and Donald C. Plumb, Pharm.D. Published by
Elephant Care International

Disclaimer: the information on this page is used entirely at the reader's discretion, and is made available on the express condition that no liability, expressed or implied, is accepted by the authors or publisher for the accuracy, content, or use thereof.


Tiletamine HCl-Zolazepam HCl

Elephant specific information, if available, is in blue.

Chemistry – Tiletamine is an injectable anesthetic agent chemically related to ketamine. Zolazepam is a diazepinone minor tranquilizer. The pH of the injectable product after re­constitution is 2.2 – 2.8.


Storage/Stability/Compatibility – After reconstitution, solutions may be stored for 4 days at room temperature and 14 days if refrigerated. Do not use solutions that contain a precip­itate or are discolored.


Pharmacology – In cats, tiletamine decreases cardiac rate and blood pressure after IM in­jections. Its effect on respiratory activity is controversial, and until these effects have been clarified respiratory function should be closely monitored. The pharmacology of this drug combination is similar to that of ketamine and diazepam. For more information refer to the monographs for those agents.


Uses/Indications – Telazol® is indicated for restraint or anesthesia combined with muscle relaxation in cats, and for restraint and minor procedures of short duration (≈30 minutes) which require mild to moderate analgesia in dogs. Although not officially approved, it has been used also in horses and many exotic and wild species.


Pharmacokinetics – Little pharmacokinetic information is available for these agents. The onset of action may be variable and be very rapid; animals should be observed carefully after injection.


In cats, the onset of action is reported to be within 1-7 minutes after IM injection. Duration of anesthesia is dependent on dosage, but is usually about 0.33-1 hour at peak ef­fect. This is reported to be approximately 3 times the duration of ketamine anesthesia. The duration of effect of the zolazepam component is longer than that of the tiletamine, so there is a greater degree of tranquilization than anesthesia during the recovery period. The recovery times vary in length from approximately 1-5.5 hours.


In dogs, the onset of action following IM injection averages 7.5 minutes. The mean dura­tion of surgical anesthesia is about 27 minutes, with recovery times averaging approxi­mately 4 hours. The duration of the tiletamine effect is longer than that of zolazepam, so there is a shorter duration of tranquilization than there is anesthesia. Less than 4% of the drugs are reported to be excreted unchanged in the urine in the dog.


Contraindications/Precautions – Telazol® is contraindicated in animals with pancreatic disease, severe cardiac or pulmonary disease. Animals with renal disease may have pro­longed durations of anesthetic action or recovery times.


Telazol® crosses the placenta and may cause respiratory depression in newborns; the manufacturer lists its use in cesarian section as being contraindicated. The teratogenic po­tential of the drug is unknown, and it is not recommended to be used during any stage of pregnancy.


Because Telazol® may cause hypothermia, susceptible animals (small body surface area, low ambient temperatures) should be monitored carefully and supplemental heat applied if needed. Like ketamine, Telazol® does not abolish pinnal, palpebral, pedal, laryngeal, and pharyngeal reflexes and its use (alone) may not be adequate if surgery is to be performed on these areas.


This drug has been reported to be contraindicated in rabbits.


Cat’s eyes remain open after receiving Telazol® , and they should be protected from in­jury and an ophthalmic lubricant (e.g., Lacrilube®) should be applied to prevent excessive drying of the cornea. Cats reportedly do not tolerate endotracheal tubes well with this agent.


Dosages may need to be reduced in geriatric, debilitated, or animals with renal dysfunc­tion.


Adverse Effects/Warnings – Respiratory depression is a definite possibility, especially with higher dosages of this product. Apnea may occur; observe animal carefully. Pain after IM injection (especially in cats) has been noted which may be a result of the low pH of the solution. Athetoid movements (constant succession of slow, writhing, involuntary move­ments of flexion, extension, pronation, etc) may occur; do not give additional Telazol® in the attempt to diminish these actions.


In dogs, tachycardia may be a common effect and may last for 30 minutes. Insufficient anesthesia after recommended doses has been reported in dogs.


Other adverse effects listed by the manufacturer include: emesis during emergence, ex­cessive salivation and bronchial/tracheal secretions (if atropine not administered before­hand), transient apnea, vocalization, erratic and/or prolonged recovery, involuntary muscu­lar twitching, hypertonia, cyanosis, cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema, muscle rigidity, and either hypertension or hypotension.


Overdosage – The manufacturer claims a 2X margin of safety in dogs, and a 4.5 times margin of safety in cats. A preliminary study in dogs (Hatch et al. 1988) suggests that doxapram at 5.5 mg/kg will enhance respirations and arousal after Telazol®. In massive overdoses, it is suggested that mechanically assisted ventilation be performed if necessary and other symptoms be treated symptomatically and supportively.


Drug Interactions – Little specific information is available presently on drug interactions with this product. In dogs, chloramphenicol apparently has no effect on recovery times with Telazol®, but in cats, anesthesia is prolonged on average of 30 minutes by chloram­phenicol. Cats wearing flea collars have not been demonstrated to have prolonged anesthe­sia times.

Phenothiazines can cause increased respiratory and cardiac depression when used with this product. The dosage of barbiturate or volatile anesthetics may need to be reduced when used concomitantly with Telazol®. For general guidelines with regard to drug interactions with this product, please refer to the ketamine and diazepam monographs.


Doses –


a)   Xylazine 1.1 mg/kg IV, 5 minutes prior to Telazol® at 1.65 – 2.2 mg/kg IV (Hubbell, Bednarski, and Muir 1989)


Exotic Species:

a)   An extensive list of suggested Telazol® dosages may be found in the article by E. Schobert entitled, “Telazol® Use in Wild and Exotic Animals” in the October 1987 issue of Veterinary Medicine.



a) African elephant: 3 mg/kg ; dose based on a single case in which the elephant became recumbent in 2 minutes and recovered in 6 hours (Kreeger et.al. 2002). 


Elephant References:

a) Kreeger,T.J., Arnemo,J.M., and Raath,J.P., 2002. Handbook of wildlife chemical immobilization. Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A., pp 183.

URL: www.wildpharm.com