Pharmacokinetic alchemy: intrepretation, logistics and ethics in exotic animal medicine.
Frequently, zoo and wildlife veterinarians are challenged to identify effective doses of medications for their patients. Drug regimens developed by clinical experience or interspecies scaling often have not been assessed rigorously in non-domestic species. These approaches may lead to erroneous treatments, even when close taxonomic models are used, due to species differences in anatomy or physiology. Identification of such complications can be found by application of pharmacokinetics, or numeric modeling of the physiologic processing of a drug by the animal. Revisiting the principles of this discipline is important for interpretation of published studies. Understanding the logistics of such a project permits effective application of the literature to the clinical patient. Opportunities for pharmacologic investigation can be identified by knowledge of this background. Additionally, pharmacokinetic studies raise ethical considerations, not only for the researchers involved, but also for clinicians using the results. Enhanced familiarity with the sum of these pharmacologic matters will encourage the clinician to apply them in their daily practice.