Forget the torbugesic
One of my biggest frustrations is the vast number of people who are sent home with nothing more for their pet's post-surgical pain than butorphanol, also called torbutrol or torbugesic. This is a drug that really has no place in the management of pain in dogs and cats, and I devoutly wish vets would stop prescribing it.
The entire four-part series on managing surgical pain in dogs and cats on the website of the Veterinary Anesthesia Support Group is actually entitled, "Looking Beyond Butorphanol." This drug is seriously, seriously useless for pain:
Often the sedation outlasts the analgesia. Canine studies have failed to demonstrate analgesia past 45 minutes[i],[ii]. Feline studies have failed to show analgesia past 90 minutes[iii],[iv]. In fact some studies have failed to show analgesia of any significance in dogs and cats[v],[vi].Are vets prescribing it because it's cheaper than the alternatives? No:
In general, butorphanol does NOT give you much bang for the buck. Butorphanol costs about ten times more than morphine, per dose, while providing much more limited analgesia of much shorter duration.Please, vets: Why are you using this drug for pain? It doesn't work. There are dozens of better choices, including what I consider the gold standard, customized combinations of different pain relievers that attack pain in different ways.
If your vet is still prescribing torbugesic, torbutrol, or butorphanol (different names for the same drug) for your dog or cat's pain, please ask him or her to read this series of articles:
Perioperative Pain Management: Looking beyond butorphanol
By Robert Stein, DVM, AAPM
And in case you, or your vet, want to know: Dr. Stein is a Veterinary Information Network consultant on pain management, is board certified by the American Academy of Pain Management, is on the Executive Board Advisory Committee of the International Academy of Pain Management, and also belongs to the American Pain Society, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Analgesia, and the International Association for the Study of Pain.