Optional Intranasal Anesthetics



After consultation with the Zoo’s veterinary staff, Annette Pedersen discovered it may be helpful to train the animal to allow a local anesthetic such as Lidocaine to be administered via syringe intranasally.

However when tested on people it was noticed this topical medication does sting. Therefore it may be problematic depending on your individual animal and the sensitivity to swabbing. Lidocaine jellies may also be an option. You may also have success just using the swab alone or swabbing the throat instead. In any case you may still find this behavior useful for delivering other medications in the future that do not sting. 

With this information I used sterile dosing syringes to practice introducing a syringe to my dogs nasal cavity while he held position on the apparatus for open mouth. (Please note: I did not introduce any fluids into my dogs nasal cavity during training sessions) I also followed this with a clean swab to the inside of his nasal cavity. I also used a fresh clean swab each time.

My dog also has a chin rest behavior for duration that allows access to his nose and the nasal swab procedure. This may not be a safe procedure for some species, but it may generate additional ideas since the open mouth is not a requirement for the nasal swab.

Barbara Heidenreich and Luther demonstrate the chin rest position that is another option for delivering intranasal medications and swabbing (with or without medication).

Nadja Viftrup Søndergaard at Copenhagen Zoo demonstrates how to introduce a syringe to the nose of a Giant Panda. The time intervals are short at first due to the sensitivity of the nose of the panda. Eventually the team opted for the throat swab instead as this was an easier option for this animal. (See next lesson.)


As mentioned in the previous step, adding an anesthetic is optional and may sting. However if you do deliver medications intranasally there is a device that can help disperse the medication. It is called a Nasal Intranasal Mucosal Atomization Device.

Again while you may not end up using it for this behavior, you may find it useful for other medications. 

This video clip demonstrates how the atomizer works to disperse medications more thoroughly to saturate the mucosal membranes.

This is Luther's first session with the atomizer. I am using water to practice spraying near him. Please note: NO fluids were sprayed into his nose during training. Please consult with your veterinary professional before introducing any materials into your animal's nasal cavity.

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