Why do Dogs Use Acepromazine?

Why do Dogs Use Acepromazine?

Author WDF Staff


If you have a restless dog that needs to stay calm for medical reasons, like post-operative recovery, your vet might prescribe them acepromazine. This is not the only use this medication has. It is often prescribed for all potential situations where your dog should really stay calm or even sedated. If your vet gave your dog acepromazine, or you got a prescription, it is entirely natural you’d like to know more about it. Here’s what dog owners should know about acepromazine for dogs.

What is acepromazine for dogs?

Acepromazine is one of the most commonly prescribed tranquilizers (sedatives) for dogs and cats. It can be used off-label for other small animals, which is not uncommon in veterinary medicine. This drug is often given to dogs that don’t handle motion sickness very well, but need to go for long plane or car trips.

VET TIP: Some dogs are more susceptible to this medication. Acepromazine might affect them harder than some other dogs.

dog sleeping with a blanket

Is it safe for my dog?

After getting prescribed this drug, one of the first things dog owners ask is, “Is acepromazine safe for my dog?” Using sedatives and tranquilizers should not be done lightly. Usually, if you aren’t careful about the dosage, you might even cause your dog health problems. Naturally, most dog owners want to know whether the drug is safe. The good news is that acepromazine is considered very safe, but there are a few things you should know.

Dogs that have specific health issues, as well as some dog breeds, should not use this medication. One key thing you should know is that dogs with short muzzles shouldn’t use it. Breeds like Boxers, Shih Tzus, Pugs, and other brachycephalic breeds should avoid acepromazine. Dogs with low blood pressure, liver issues, tetanus, epilepsy, seizures, or aggressive dogs should not take it.

Acepromazine side effects

All medications can cause adverse reactions and side effects. This is especially true for things like tranquilizers and sedatives. Plus, you’d expect this drug causes behavioral changes. Here are some of the most common acepromazine side effects;

  • Lowering the dog’s blood pressure
  • Slower breathing
  • Exposed “third eye”
  • Pink or brown urine
  • Aggression

sleeping golden retriever

The good news is that overdoses are extremely rare. It was noticed only in cases where the dogs were susceptible to the medication.

Is it effective?

The second most important thing to dog owners regarding this medication is its effectiveness. You don’t want to give your dog a tranquilizer if it’s not going to get them calmer and actually help them in a specific situation. Many dog owners asked us, “Is acepromazine effective?” The answer is - yes, acepromazine is very effective. If you made sure your dog could safely take the medication, you could expect acepromazine to work like a charm. The dog will most likely sleep for 6 - 8 hours and wake up to be their usual self. If your dog is susceptible to this medication, they may go into a coma-like sleep, and it might be impossible to get them excited in a couple of hours. Some dogs can sleep up to 12 hours and wake up rested without any side effects.

VET TIP: Dog breeds that carry the MDR-1 gene might be severely susceptible to this medication. They should be given a smaller dosage.

Acepromazine dosage

The exact acepromazine dosage can vary. Some dogs might need a smaller dose, and some might need a larger one. It is not uncommon that vets have a “trial run” to see how your dog might react to this drug. However, the usual acepromazine dosage for dogs is 0,25 - 1 milligram per pound of body weight.

Where Can I get acepromazine?

Acepromazine is a controlled substance, so you can only get it through a prescription from a licensed vet. You should visit your vet and tell them you need a dog sedative and ask if acepromazine is a viable option. In cases where dogs need to remain still after surgery, your vet may give you a prescription without you asking them about it. You can get this drug in your local pet pharmacy or on Chewy’s online pharmacy.

World Dog Finder team

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