Prescription Medication Sedatives for Dogs

More and more dogs nowadays are suffering from stress, anxiety, fears and phobias. While these symptoms are quite unnatural in dogs in the wild, the everyday hustle and bustle of modern day life has caused even man's best friend to suffer from some form of psychological disorders. Thankfully, just as humans, dogs may be treated with several types of sedatives. These can be obtained by prescription from veterinarians after having well assessed and evaluated each dog on a case-by-case basis.


Acepromazine also known as Promace, is a medication commonly prescribed by veterinarians. It is indicated mostly for car travel in anxious pets that also get motion sick, but it is also used prior to surgery in conjunction with atropine and to reduce anxiety in fractious animals during grooming sessions or other procedures. It is one of the safest sedatives,but it can cause hypotension in some pets and boxers seem to be overly sensitive to this drug,


Diazepam, better known as Valium, is a controlled substance registered for humans, that is controlled by both the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. To have a dog prescribed this medication a prescription from a veterinarian is required. The drug has a sedative effect on dogs and is often prescribed to manage excitement, as a muscle relaxant or to control convulsions. It also may be used along with other drugs for pets undergoing anaesthesia.


Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, is a controlled substance just as Valium. And just as Valium it is registered for use in humans only, but it can be prescribed by veterinarians as an extra-label drug. It is a mild sedative used to provide anxiety relief in dogs. Dogs that suffer from fear of noises, thunderstorm phobia, separation anxiety and general fear such as going to the vet, may benefit from the use of Alprazolam. The medication may prove helpful as well as a muscle relaxant, to control convulsions and to stimulate appetite.


Medetomidine, also known as Domitor, is used both as a sedative and analgesic in dogs. The medication is given by injection and its effects can be seen in 10 to 15 minutes. Given intravenously instead the effects can be seen in as little as 5 minutes. Its sedative effect may last one to two hours and its analgesic effects may last 15 to 30 minutes. The effects of Domitor can be reversed with the use of atipamezole.


Clomipramine, also known as Clomicalm, is a drug specifically prescribed in dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Indeed, this drug is the only medication specifically approved for the treatment of separation anxiety. While Clomicalm does not have specifically sedative effects, it works by making the dog more prone to learn new, positive behaviours and ultimately become calmer. Therefore, in order to work, Clomicalm tablets must be used in conjunction with specific behaviour modification programs.


Ironically, some sedatives may have an opposite effect of what they are expected to have. When this happens it is referred to a paradoxical effect. What this exactly means is that in some dogs the actual sedatives may create an overexcited state of mind instead of calmness. In some cases, dogs may even turn aggressive. This is often seen in drugs classified as Benzodiazepines.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.