• Commonly prescribed for: Pain management
  • Species: Dogs and Cats
  • Therapeutic Class: Opiate

Basic Information:

Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate that partially binds to mu-receptors in the brain, effectively blocking the sensation of pain. It is primarily used in veterinary medicine to manage mild to moderate pain in dogs and cats. Unlike morphine, buprenorphine tends to have fewer gastrointestinal side effects and a stronger affinity for mu-receptors, although it provides less relief from severe pain.

Veterinary Medicine Uses:

Buprenorphine is often administered for:

  • Pain Management: Used to treat pain associated with tissue inflammation, spasms, and trauma. It is particularly effective in managing postoperative pain and chronic pain conditions.
  • Buccal Administration: Commonly prescribed for buccal administration, especially in felines, where it can be absorbed directly through the oral mucosa.


  • DEA Regulation: As a controlled substance, buprenorphine is regulated by the DEA and is typically administered on-site at veterinary clinics.
  • Contraindications: Not recommended for animals with Addison's disease, severe renal dysfunction, liver disease, severe head trauma, or cardiovascular conditions. Geriatric animals also require close monitoring.

Side Effects:

The most common side effect is sedation. Other potential adverse effects may include respiratory depression and gastrointestinal upset.

Drug Interactions:

  • Buprenorphine may interact with other CNS depressants, potentially increasing sedation and respiratory depression.
  • Concurrent use with other opiates can alter the effectiveness of buprenorphine due to competitive receptor binding.

Administration Tips:

  • Dosage and Administration: Follow the veterinarian’s prescription regarding dosage and frequency. Buprenorphine can be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or buccally, depending on the animal's condition and severity of pain.
  • Handling: Due to its controlled status, the handling and administration of buprenorphine should strictly adhere to legal and medical guidelines to ensure safety and compliance.