Office of Research Guidelines for Use of Anesthetic Cocktails and Diluted Drugs in Laboratory Animals - Office of Research

Guidelines for Use of Anesthetic Cocktails and Diluted Drugs in Laboratory Animals

Anesthetic Cocktails and Diluted Drugs in Laboratory Animals


To provide guidance regarding the formulation, safety, and efficacy of in house made (extemporaneously compounded) anesthetic cocktails and diluted drugs for use in laboratory animals.


In house compounded injectable anesthetic combinations and diluted stock medications are commonly used in laboratory animals; however, the stability and efficacy of many of these compounds is not well established. It is essential to ensure that all drugs used in laboratory animals are safe and efficacious.


  • In house made anesthetic cocktails and diluted medications must use sterile, pharmaceutical grade compounds, must be combined using sterile technique, and be stored in a sterile vial in a cool place and away from light.
  • Compounds must be labeled with the final concentration of each component, an expiration date, and the initials of the person preparing the compound.
  • Due to concerns with stability, expiration dates (use-by date) in the case of anesthetic cocktails (e.g., ketamine + xylazine) should be 30 days from the date of compounding or the earliest expiration date of any single compound used, whichever is first.
    • In the case of published data indicating a particular cocktail is stable for longer than 30 days, that published time period may be used provided the reference is readily available at all times
  • Diluted drugs prepared aseptically and stored in sterile vials under refrigeration should be discarded within 30 days or the expiration date of the original stock, whichever is earlier.
  • In addition, if the user notices any cloudiness or bacterial/fungal growth inside the vial, it should be discarded immediately.
  • All the anesthetic agents and procedures should be approved by the IACUC prior to use in animals.
  • Contact Environmental Health and Safety ( for proper disposal of controlled and hazardous substances.


  1. Taylor BJ, Orr SA, Chapman JL, and Fisher DE, . J AALAS 48:718-726, 2009.
  2. Papich MG. Drug compounding for veterinary patients. AAPS J 7:E281–E287, 2005.
  3. Kohn DF, Benson GJ, Wixson SK, White WJ. Anesthesia and Analgesia in Laboratory Animals; Academic Press, New York, 1997; Chapter 15.
  4. Matthews KA and Taylor DK. Assessment of Sterility in Fluid Bags Maintained for Chronic Use. J AALAS 50:708712, 2011.

Procedure:       IACUC-53
Date:                September 8, 2016
Enabled By:     Guide, AVMA
Supersedes:     New