Acepromazine For Dogs

Acepromazine is a prescription sedative used to control overly excitable animals (especially on long trips), and also prevent vomiting in dogs and cats.

Take a boisterous Labrador on a long journey and it could end with a distracted driver and disaster! If that same Labrador is fit and well, then a dose of acepromazine an hour before travel could solve the problem.

However, if you need to take the same journey with a fearful dog, or one that has heart disease, or indeed other health issues, then giving acepromazine could create a new set of problems and is not advisable.

What Is Acepromazine?

Acepromazine belongs to a family of tranquiliser drugs called the phenothiazines. For many decades acepromazine was the most widely prescribed drug used to sedate anxious dogs. However, as knowledge about this drug grew, it became increasingly clear that acepromazine is not the magic bullet it was once considered.

Whilst acepromazine for dogs does have its place, the responsible owner should be fully aware of the side effects so that you can decide whether this is the best drug for your pet or not.

If your vet has prescribed the use of acepromazine, you can get a heavily discounted price by ordering online here.

Uses Of Acepromazine

Acepromazine is a tranquilizer, which means it is a drug that calms anxious animal and reduces the signs of mental distress or agitation. An upshot of the drugs action is that it makes the dog sleepy and more docile.

Superficially at least acepromazine for dogs appears an ideal choice for those stressful events such as a trip to the vets or the groomer, or indeed for those dogs that need calming for a long journey. However, appearances can be deceptive and this is not always the case, as you will read later.

Thus acepromazine may (but not necessarily should) be appropriately prescribed in the following situations:

  • Long distance travel
  • Visiting the vet or groomer
  • An aggressive dog who needs to be handled by strangers
  • The dog who suffers from motion sickness
  • A dog with a low level itch to make him more comfortable

If your vet has prescribed the use of acepromazine, you can get a heavily discounted price by ordering online here.

How Does Acepromazine Work

The exact way acepromazine acts in the body is not 100% certain, but is thought to involve blocking receptors in the central nervous system. This means the brain cannot process messages in the normal way, which results in the appearance of sedation and relaxation.

Unfortunately, acepromazines action on the body is like using a tractor to crack a nut, and has an indiscriminate effect on body systems such as the heart and other major organs, and causes undesirable side effects.

Acepromazine Side Effects

Think of the brain like a control center and you begin to understand why acepromazine side effects for dogs are so wide reaching. As well as causing sedation, acepromazine impacts on the controls for blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature, with potentially serious consequences in dogs with underlying health problems.

Let’s now take a look at some special cases, when it comes to use of acepromazine side effects for dogs.

Breed Sensitivities To Acepromazine

Some dog breeds have a genetic quirk which means they are more sensitive to the effects of acepromazine than other dogs. Whilst this does not mean these breeds should not take acepromazine, the side effects on dogs of these breeds are more marked and so a lower dose should be given even in healthy animals.

These breeds are:

  • Boxers
  • Collie breeds including the Australian shepherd
  • Giant breeds such as Newfoundland, Great Dane, and Pyrenean mountain dog.

Epileptic Dogs

It is a well-recognized side effect of acepromazine that it lowers the seizure threshold in dogs that are prone to fits. This means giving an epileptic dog acepromazine increases the likelihood of him having a seizure, and its use is therefore best avoided.

Heart Disease

Acepromazine lowers blood pressure, and the body’s natural response to this is to make the heart work harder in order to raise the blood pressure back to normal. If a dog suffers with heart disease, this extra work load places an additional undesirable stress on an already sick organ which could be dangerous. Whilst acepromazine can be used with care in some dogs with heart disease (but not all) the dose should be reduced and the lowest possible amount given.

Elderly Dogs

Just as an elderly dog is slower when he moves around, because his muscles and joints are weaker and less supple, in the same way his organs are slower at breaking down acepromazine into safe waste products. This means the same amount of acepromazine given to an elderly dog has a more prolonged action than in a younger one, which leaves him sleepy and vulnerable to the side effects for longer.

You may notice this sleepiness as the third eyelid (the skin at the inner corner of the eye) popping across the eye. This gives the dog a weird appearance that can be alarming if you don’t know what’s happening, however, once the sedation where’s off the eyelid will go back to its normal position.

Aggressive Dogs

There is evidence that acepromazine can dis-inhibit some aggressive dogs, removing any vestige of self-control, and making them more (not less) likely to bite. The implication of this is that giving acepromazine to some badly-behaved dogs can make their behavior worse rather than better.

Other Drugs

Acepromazine has a reputation for mixing poorly with other drugs. It acts in one of two ways: acepromazine either accentuates the action of the other drug making it more potent, or else it can counteract the drug, cancelling it out and making it ineffective. Which way it goes depends on the individual drugs involved. But as a general rule, if your dog is on medication, your veterinarian needs to give prescribing acepromazine careful thought.

Drawbacks of Acepromazine

As we alluded to in the introduction, if your dog is fit and well but over endowed with energy, acepromazine does its place – such as calming that over-exuberant dog during a long journey.

However, if you are expecting a dog that is sedated with acepromazine to go for a walk two hours later, think again. The effects, including sedation, usually last 6 – 8 hours, which means when the dog tries to walk he may well stagger like a drunkard.

Another huge drawback is that whilst the dog appears sedated, his mind is actually fully alert and functioning. Thus, if your dog is terrified of fireworks, giving acepromazine may stop him from digging his way out of the house, but he still feels the fear and is unable to express that anxiety. In the long run, this only makes his phobia worse and so acepromazine is best avoided.

Acepromazine Dosage For Dogs

The recommended acepromazine dosage for dogs is between 0.5 – 2.2 mg for each kg of the dog’s bodyweight. Thus, an average Labrador could receive from 1.5 to 6, 10 mg tablets, two or three times a day. However, each dog responds differently and a dog that is given 20mg may be so wobbly he cannot walk, whilst it has no discernable effect on another.

Acepromazine should be given approximately 60 – 90 minutes before the desired effect is needed. It will only be effective if the dog is calm, and won’t work if the dog is already agitated.

If your vet has prescribed the use of acepromazine, you can get a heavily discounted price by ordering online here.

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