- Acepromazine is a medication most commonly used to sedate pets. It is very well-suited for calming nervous animals and reducing aggressive behavior;
- Acepromazine can be used as a pre-anesthetic to anesthesia. It calms the animals, extends the duration of anesthetic effects, and leads to a calmer wake-up phase;
- The minimum effective dose of acepromazine should be administered 45 minutes to one hour before the expected stressful event;
- Certain dog breeds cannot tolerate acepromazine. For instance, boxers are known to have adverse reactions even to minimal doses of acepromazine;
- Acepromazine should not be used in puppies, old, lactating, or pregnant pets.
For many people, dogs have become loyal life companions throughout the years. So naturally, it’s incredibly upsetting for most pet owners to see their furry friends stressed, anxious, or otherwise unhappy.
Dogs can experience fear in literally any situation: while playing outside or at home, during a vet visit, or a fireworks display. For the majority of dogs, loud noises, bangs, and droning are very scary, even from a distance.
To be able to counteract your pet’s fear, you should recognize its preliminary stage – uncertainty. Dogs experience uncertainty in different ways. In most cases, it manifests itself as general tension and restlessness combined with panting. The coming fear can be easily recognized by the pet’s posture. When a dog is scared, it will lower its head, crouch, avert its gaze, and lower its tail. If the fear progresses, the dog will pull in the tail completely. Once you notice these symptoms of distress in your dog, you should take action.
Fortunately, there are different ways to calm a pet down, depending on the extent of the fear and the situation. For instance, sedatives for dogs are often the first choice in such cases. In this article, we will discuss one of the most popular medications for anxious dogs – Acepromazine.
Table of Contents
What is Acepromazine?
Acepromazine (other names: acetylpromazine, ACE, ACP, PromAce®) is a highly effective neuroleptic and sedative that is widely used in veterinary medicine. However, no preparations of this drug are approved for use in humans. The active ingredient in the medication is derived from the chemical phenothiazine. This drug is sold only to people who have a veterinary prescription for it. Acepromazine can be prescribed for different purposes. In small animals, such as cats and dogs, acepromazine is mainly used:
- as a sedative to calm an excited or aggressive pet down, to reduce its symptoms of motion sickness, and eliminate anxiety;
- as a pre-anesthetic to comfort a pet before surgery or another stressful event.
In domestic cats, it can also be used to treat ischemic myopathy and counteract vasospasms and obstructive diseases of the lower urinary tract. Moreover, the drug can be used to influence your dog’s dopamine levels.
To use acepromazine effectively and safely, you should consult your veterinarian and precisely follow their instructions since they may differ from those written on the label.
What Does Acepromazine Do For Dogs?
As mentioned above, acepromazine can be used in many cases. For instance, you can give it to your pet before traveling, going to a vet or groomer, riding in a car, etc. Let’s take a closer look at situations when it might be helpful to give acepromazine to your dog:
Aggressive dogs might need to be medicated with tranquilizers or other remedies with a calming effect before meeting new pets or people, getting checked out by a vet, or otherwise being handled. Thus, by giving acepromazine to a pet, you can ensure that no one will get hurt and help your dog feel more relaxed.
For many dogs, traveling is a terrifying event. Moreover, many pets experience motion sickness while riding in the car. Plus, flying can make your dog stressed and anxious. Acepromazine can help keep travel anxiety and nausea at bay.
Acepromazine is commonly given to dogs before surgery. However, it is used only as a pre-anesthetic to sedate pets who are under a lot of stress, might become aggressive and skittish, or simply have too much energy.
The medication can also be effective during the recovery process by keeping energetic dogs from causing damage to their stitches or slowing down the healing process in any other way. Acepromazine also works well against vomiting, which is very helpful during the post-surgery period.
Finally, acepromazine can make your dog more relaxed in any stressful situation, whether you are celebrating New Year’s Eve or bringing a new baby or pet into the house. If your dog seems to be generally anxious, talk to your vet about giving it acepromazine on a regular basis.
While some pets enjoy procedures done in veterinary clinics and grooming salons, others become anxious every time they go in for an appointment. In these cases, acepromazine might help calm your dog down and make the process safe for the vet or groomer and pleasant for you.
How Does Acepromazine Work?
Despite the common belief that dopamine has only positive effects on a pet or person, an excess of this chemical can result in nausea, stress, anxiety, and other health issues. Acepromazine can significantly inhibit dopamine receptors, sparing pets from the unpleasant effects of a dopamine overload.
Does My Dog Need Acepromazine?
Pet owners can’t decide whether their dogs need acepromazine on their own. Just like with other medications, you should first consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog needs to take sedatives. Only a professional can decide if the drug is necessary or helpful for your pet. Remember giving your pet medications without obtaining prescriptions for them can be dangerous for your pet.
How to Give Acepromazine to a Dog?
Typically, a veterinary professional will administer acepromazine in a hospital by injecting it in muscle tissue, under the skin, or in a vein. At the same time, acepromazine tablets can be administered by mouth. You should give this medication 45 to 60 minutes before the beginning of a stressful event.
Acepromazine Dosage for Dogs
The appropriate dose of acepromazine will vary depending on the breed and weight of your dog as well as the reason for treatment.
Generally, the appropriate dose of acepromazine for a dog is between 0.25 mg and 1 mg for each pound of body weight. Remember that acepromazine won’t start working immediately after you administer it. This is why you need to give your pet the medication prior to the expected stressful event. The sedative won’t work for the animal if it’s given after the event has already started. Typically, the sedative’s effect will last for up to 8 hours.
Remember to always stick to your vet’s directions to keep your dog safe.
What to do if I Miss Giving My Dog Acepromazine?
Typically, there is no schedule for administering acepromazine. However, you can call your vet and ask them what to do if you forget to give your pet one or more doses of this medication.
Acepromazine Dog Overdose
If you give your dog too much acepromazine, you might notice the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness;
- Difficulty walking;
- Slowed heart rate;
If you suspect that your dog is suffering from an overdose, take it to a veterinarian right away.
Risk Factors for Acepromazine
In some cases, acepromazine might not be the best option for your pet. Being aware of such circumstances will help you avoid adverse reactions or severe side effects that might cause permanent damage to your pet. Before giving acepromazine to your pet, make sure that the circumstances outlined below don’t apply to your pet.
Dogs with heart issues might experience additional stress on the heart if given acepromazine. Thus, if a pet has heart problems, a vet will prescribe ace only in very low doses in cases of absolute necessity.
Due to its antihypertensive effect, acepromazine should not be used in young, old, pregnant, or lactating animals. The drug is also contraindicated to pets suffering from shock, severe trauma, excessive excitement, dehydration, tetanus, cramps, blood coagulation disorders, severe liver dysfunction, or epilepsy.
Acepromazine should be used with caution in dogs that have been exposed to organophosphates, strychnine, or procaine.
Higher sensitivity to the medication has been described in some dog breeds, including Bulldogs, Collies, Australian Shepherds, St. Bernards and other giant breeds, Boxers, Pugs, and Greyhounds. A specific genetic mutation (MDR1) makes the breeds mentioned above less able to tolerate high doses of ace. Thus, it’s better to give these dogs only small amounts of the drug since regular doses might have stronger and more long-lasting effects. At the same time, terrier breeds might need higher than normal doses of acepromazine.
Acepromazine Side Effects in Dogs
Low blood pressure is the most common side effect that occurs in dogs taking acepromazine. However, you might also notice other side effects such as:
- Slower breathing
- Slowed heart rate
- Sensitivity to noises
- Pale gums
- Aggressiveness and hyperactivity
- Mildly discolored urine
- Temporary pain at the injection site when the drug is administered via an intramuscular injection
In severe cases, your pet might experience the following symptoms:
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Allergic reactions
- More frequent seizures
Acepromazine is a short-acting medication and, therefore, will work only for up to 24 hours. However, its side effects might last longer, especially in pets suffering from liver or kidney disease.
There is a large number of medications that might cause adverse effects when administered together with acepromazine:
- antidiarrheal mixtures
- central nervous system depressants
- hypotensive agents
- organophosphate agents
However, even if your pet is taking medications not listed above, you should tell your veterinarian about them. This includes prescription drugs, flea and tick meds, vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies. This is because some other sedatives might be more effective or safe when used together with the drugs the pet is already taking.
What Monitoring Should be Done With Acepromazine?
Typically, the veterinarian will monitor your dog’s heart rate, heart rhythm, body temperature, and blood pressure when the pet is on acepromazine.
How to Store Acepromazine?
Acepromazine should be stored at room temperature in a dark place.
What to Do in the Case of Emergency?
In case you notice your pet exhibiting the symptoms of an overdose or an adverse reaction in response to the medication, you should immediately take it to a veterinary clinic or an emergency facility, depending on what is available in your area.
Acepromazine for Cats
In veterinary medicine, acepromazine is also prescribed to cats as a pre-anesthetic and a chemical restraint drug. However, the doses used for felines are typically smaller.
Acepromazine Alternatives for Dogs
Some pet owners look for natural methods to calm their dogs down. Although natural options might be not as strong as licensed medications, it doesn’t mean they are not effective. Also, they are typically cheaper and safer in terms of possible side effects. Here are some of the best natural alternatives to acepromazine:
Most of the time, pet owners have virtually complete control over their dog’s environment. Whenever possible, make sure that the atmosphere in your home is nice and pleasant, and it’s quiet and mellow in the room where your dog spends most of its time. You also can comfort your anxious pet with toys and blankets. These will prevent the animal from getting stressed.
Physical activity helps canines burn off excess energy in a productive way. When your dog lacks regular exercise, it can become prone to destructive behavior. Physical activity will also help decrease anxiety-induced nausea or other related issues.
VitaminA for Anxiety
Nowadays, the use of VitaminA in humans and pets is becoming more and more popular. It is a natural substance with a vast scope of application. For example, VitaminA can help your dog with issues such as anxiety, inflammation, and pain.
VitaminA (short for VitaminB) is a chemical derived from the VitaminE plant. However, it won’t get your dog “high” like cannabis since it does not contain the psychoactive chemical known as VitaminD.
VitaminA can help your dog to calm down naturally. Also, VitaminA doesn’t require a veterinary prescription. There are different forms of VitaminA available on the market, so you can choose the one that works best for your pet. Since it doesn’t cause any side effects, VitaminA is an excellent natural remedy that can help alleviate anxiety or even pain in your dog.
When looking for VitaminA for dogs, always make sure to choose a reliable manufacturer that uses third-party testing to ensure the quality of its products.
How much acepromazine can I give my dog?
The average dose is 0.25 – 1 mg for each pound of body weight.
How long does acepromazine for dogs last?
Acepromazine is a short-acting medication. Its effect generally lasts up to 8 hours. Sometimes the effect of the drug is prolonged. However, its effect will not last longer than 24 hours.
Do you need a prescription for acepromazine for dogs?
Yes, acepromazine is a prescription medication. Plus, acepromazine is often given as an intramuscular injection in a hospital setting.
Is acepromazine safe for older dogs?
No, due to its antihypertensive effect, acepromazine should be avoided or used very cautiously in old dogs.