Sunday, July 5, 2015

The 4th of July/Using Acepromazine for Anxiety

I've actually written a post about this before, however, I was attacked on a friend's post on facebook and would like to once again, revist the use of acepromazine in an anxious dog.

If you look up acepromazine and use with anxiety there are a few articles [one written by a veterinarian] who says absolutely do not use acepromazine in a fearful dog. The articles say that because it sedates your dog, it simply renders them immobile and they are able to continue to feel their fear. I don't think this is untrue, but I think it is vastly over-stated.

Acepromazine is a sedative. What is a sedative?
A sedative or tranquilizer is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement. At higher doses it may result in slurred speech, staggering gait, poor judgment, and slow, uncertain reflexes.

Your dog is afraid. They are panting, pacing, they cannot settle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving the dog a sedative to make them SLEEP. Thusly, calming the dog in the process.

Now, acepromazine can lower your dog's inhibition to bite. It can actually make them hyper sensitive if their anxiety is very, very bad. [See above description on sedatives!] In a situation where a dog is being dangerous to others and itself due to anxiety the best option would be to give an anti-anxiety medication. Some common medications often prescribed for dogs are Alprazalam and Trazadone. These drugs are meant to lower your dog's anxiety level. However, sometimes even these medications are not enough and they can be coupled with a sedative - like acepromazine. 

I had someone go off on me yesterday because I gave my dog trazadone and acepromazine. I started with the trazadone. The dog in question is Seth. He had a bad experience with fireworks as a young dog and now he is terrified of them. He is a mellow dog in nature and his anxiety manifests this way: he cannot settle, he's constantly wanting to be in my lap, and he will try to hide wherever I am sitting. He also follows me around like a creeper. This year I decided to try anti-anxiety medication because so many people vilify the use of ace. I also was hoping I could use the anti-anxiety medication and not have a super sleepy dog on my hands. Unfortunately the anxiety medication - trazadone, did not help. I gave an adequate dose for a dog of his size, but he still followed me around like a creeper and was sad.

I added on the acepromazine and as soon as it kicked in he was able to sleep. He didn't move from where he was laying on my bed all night. He woke up like normal this morning and it was as if nothing happened.

Here is one anti ace article:
Don't Ace the Fear

While I can agree with this article that acepromazine can make a reactive or fearful dog worse, if given in a proper dose it should make the dog SLEEP. It does not render a dog completely unable to move so they are sitting there, eyes wide listening to all of their fears.Again, we are giving this to our dogs to SEDATE them, not necessarily even treat the fear, just make it so they can get through the day/night whatever it may be.

I would also like to add because I saw someone say "My dogs aren't bad enough to need drugs but..."

My dog doesn't NEED drugs. I could let him work it, he could follow me everywhere, curl up when need be, and overall just have a big sad. However as his owner I have the ability to help him with his anxiety by chemical means. It is not wrong to give your pets medication [under supervision of your veterinarian] to help with some of their anxiety. You are being a good pet owner by not forcing them to 'toughen it out'. I'm not going to feel bad about that. Seth can't help it!

Anyway, rant over. I just really feel like a lot of people say "No ace" when they actually have no experience giving it. If a person is using medications successfully you have no need or right to judge them. We are all just trying to do what is best for our animals.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!


  1. I hope it wasn't my FB page. I know we disagree on this issue. Ace did exactly what those articles that are against ace describe. Zoe was more fearful, would not settle and paced like a drunk through my house for hours on end, pretty much all night long. It was miserable for both of us. The next day she was still drunk and really freaked out. I also had a very bad experience using ace on my cat when we moved. She turned into a psycho. She was mean, lashed out at every body and was just not okay. She's the nicest cat ever and it was crazy.

    I won't ever use ace again on any of my pets unless needed for a medical procedure. I'm really glad you've had good luck with it, though!

    1. It is used in pre-anesthesia regularly.

      It doesn't work for everyone. I think dosage and dosing [prior to the animal becoming anxious] is really important. I've never tried it in a cat before. I would almost be cautious with any drug with disphoric properties if your cat reacted that poorly.

    2. I forgot to add, I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. Some dogs absolutely need the aid of an anti-anxiety medication. It is often times a better route to go in those instances.

    3. Yeah, I knew that about anesthesia. At least with that I don't have to deal with them until it's sort of worn off! LOL! :)

      Thanks for the tip on the cat! I will make sure I ask them to add that to her chart the next time I come in!

      I also agree with you that everybody has to do what's right for their dog. I forgot to mention that in my post but I was thinking about it later. I would much rather my dogs be happily napping than clingy and freaked out!

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