MOST animals are premedicated before induction of anaesthesia in small animal practice; however, the essential role that premedication plays in the whole anaesthetic regimen is sometimes overlooked. The choice of premedicants determines the characteristics of the ensuing anaesthesia, and the rational selection of agents can provide significant advantages for the animal in terms of intraoperative cardiovascular stability, perioperative analgesia and quality of recovery. In order to optimise the advantages afforded by premedication, it is important to select premedicants based on the needs of the individual patient, rather than using a single ‘blanket’ premedication combination for all animals. This article provides an overview of the pharmacology of drugs commonly used for premedication, including a description of the characteristics of premedicant drug combinations and their applicability for use in different types of patients.
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