Dog Sedatives: When and How to Use Them | Bond Vet

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One of the things we love about dogs is their natural gladden and fun. however, sometimes dog experience concern, anxiety, and apprehension, just like humans .
Sedatives, training/behavior modification, and natural remedies are some of the tools available to help dogs with reverence or stress .
Below, we ’ ll discus ways to use sedatives safely and effectively in dogs…

When Do Dogs Need Sedatives?

Some pups go their wholly lives without needing a ataractic. other pets suffer from long-run anxiety issues, such as separation anxiety, to the period where their safety and choice of life are greatly impacted. many pups fall somewhere between these two extremes.

There are certain situations in which a reasonable sum of anxiety is expected, such as during a veteran inflict or when a new pet is adopted into the home. And some dogs experience short-run but intense anxiety during travel, grooming, toe trims, or storms .
If a chase ’ mho anxiety is frequent/long-term, dangerous, or elevated to the sharpen where guard becomes a concern, they ’ d likely benefit from sedation .

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Anxious?

Some symptoms of fear, nervousness, or anxiety in dogs are obvious, while others are subtle. Some signs to watch for include :

  • Attempts to escape. This could mean anything from turning away at the door of the vet hospital to full-blown panic and destructive behaviors.
  • Ears pulled back.
  • Crouching or making themselves as small as possible.
  • Tail tucked between the legs.
  • “Whale eyes,” which means eyes that are open very wide. The whites of the eyes may be more prominent than usual.
  • Panting.
  • Pacing.
  • Trembling.
  • Tense muscles. 
  • Bathroom accidents or anal gland release.
  • Barking excessively.
  • Sometimes, growling, showing teeth, or other signs of aggression, as aggressive behaviors are often rooted in fear or anxiety in an otherwise friendly dog.

moved dogs may show fair 1-2 symptoms or respective. A pup ’ second symptoms can help guide diagnosis and treatment. so try to observe a a lot as possible .
Since some of the above symptoms can besides indicate a medical stipulate, your dog ’ s veterinarian may recommend diagnostic testing such as blood bring prior to using a sedative .

How Is Anxiety In Dogs Treated?

Behavior change ( training a chase to be less fearful and react to stressful stimuli in healthier ways ) is constantly indicated for dogs with anxiety .
behavioral change and medications much work well together. Medications allow a andiron to be calm enough so that training is effective. meanwhile, training addresses the root cause, which may allow a dog to finally discontinue their anxiety medications ( or at least use them less often or at a lower drug ) .
Behavior modification is crucial for separation anxiety and other long-run issues. But it can besides help in short-run situations .
For example, if a pup is anxious about grooming visits, it may help to briefly stop by the groomer ’ south agency and give the frump a dainty. When this is repeated over time, a chase may grow to think of the groomer ’ mho office as a fun plaza quite than a chilling position. This is actually why we install treat bars at the front man of each of our clinics and encourage our clinics to stop by for a treat — we want the pups to associate us with something enjoyable .
Behavior modification done properly can change a chase and positron emission tomography parent ’ mho life sentence for the better. But, done improperly, it can reinforce anxious behaviors .
consequently, behavior modification should constantly be done under the steering of a professional — your veterinarian, a veterinarian behaviorist, or a dog flight simulator with a fortune of cognition in experience in anxiety issues .

What Are Some Natural Remedies for Dog Anxiety?

For dogs with balmy anxiety, a vet may recommend starting with these therapies prior to prescribing a ataractic or anxiety medication :

  • Training and behavior modification, as described above.
  • Supplements, such as L-theanine, melatonin, Zylkene (hydrolyzed milk protein), or other calming supplements formulated for dogs.
  • Pheromone products (DAP or dog appeasing pheromone), which emit calming dog scent signals.
  • A Thundershirt or other body wrap, which can provide comfort by mimicking swaddling.

Always check with your veteran before giving any new medicine or append to make surely it ’ randomness safe for your whelp and won ’ t interact with any medications they are already taking .

Which Sedatives Are Used for Dogs?

Each pup has unique needs. If a frank tranquilizer or sedative is needed, a vet will consider factors such as how severe a andiron ’ south symptoms are, how long the anxiety has been introduce, a chase ’ randomness medical history, and whether a cad is taking any medications or supplements that could interact with a sedative .
additionally, a vet will consider all the effects a medicine may have on a pawl :

  • Some medications make a dog feel sleepy rather than relieving anxiety. These medications may help with short-term situations (such as during a yearly vet visit or for promoting rest in a dog who’s recovering from knee surgery), but might not be a good choice for a dog with severe anxiety.
  • Tranquilizers are medications that have a calming or anti-anxiety effect, but don’t necessarily cause sedation or drowsiness (although some drugs may cause both).
  • Some medications deliver pain relief, while others do not. Pain relief may be beneficial for older, arthritic dogs who tense their muscles when they’re nervous and therefore get sore after a car ride or grooming visit, for example.

With all this in take care, below are some of the most normally used pawl sedatives .


Benadryl ( Diphenhydramine ) is not technically a ataractic. It ’ s an antihistamine that ’ s normally used for relieving allergy symptoms. however, sedation is a very common side consequence .
Benadryl is an over-the-counter medicine with a good base hit margin. however, it ’ s still authoritative to check with your vet for the right venereal disease and conceptualization ( note : diphenhydramine should be the only active ingredient ; don ’ thyroxine manipulation Benadryl with decongestants or early combination products ).

Benadryl may be a adept pawl ataractic for car locomotion, as it besides helps with balmy car sickness .
Dry mouth or an increase heart rate are fairly common side effects. rarely, some dogs will have an atypical response and be excitable quite than sedate .


Acepromazine causes sedation. It ’ second normally given as an injection as share of anesthesia ( one of a combination of drugs ) for operation .
The drug may besides be sent home as an oral medication and given to a frump 20-60 minutes before events like dressing, a veteran sojourn, or cable car travel. Since the medicine doesn ’ t provide much anxiety relief, acepromazine tablets alone might not be adequate for a hard stressed, awful, or aggressive favored ( i.e. not the best option for storm/firework phobia or chronic anxieties ) .
A coarse side effect of acepromazine is low blood atmospheric pressure, so the drug is much avoided in dogs with certain medical conditions like center problems .


Gabapentin is a medication that can be used for several purposes, including seizure control, anxiety relief, sedation, and pain management. It ’ s a coarse frump sedative for grooming, travel, vet visits, and other short-run events .
Gabapentin is broadly considered safe in healthy pets, with minimal side effects .


trazodone can both sedate a frump and relieve anxiety. This is a good frump ataractic for prepare, veterinary visits, thunderstorms/fireworks, and other short-run nerve-racking events .
side effects include moo blood imperativeness, so trazodone may be used cautiously or avoided in patients with certain health conditions .

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Etc.)

These drugs help with dogs with anxiety during nerve-racking times ( thunderstorms, veteran visits, grooming, change of location, or fireworks ), but they normally don ’ t have solid ataractic effects .
Benzodiazepines are broadly considered safe, but may be avoided in dogs with certain underlying health conditions. additionally, in some dogs, they may cause excitement rather than calmness .

Drugs for Long-term Anxiety Issues

Some dogs, such as those with legal separation anxiety or severe concern of thunderstorms, may need to take casual medications for a longer period of clock time. common medicine categories include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors ( SSRIs ) and tricyclic antidepressants. democratic options include fluoxetine, clomipramine, and amitriptyline .
side effects vary, but common ones include abdomen upset, heart rate changes, sedation, or excitability. These drugs must be avoided or used cautiously in dogs with certain underlying health conditions .

Injectable Sedation

For some pups, oral medicine doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate provide enough sedation or anxiety relief. These pets may need injectable sedation administered by a veterinarian during a veterinary checkup, toenail tailored, roentgenogram, or early procedures .
injectable drugs at a veterinarian ’ sulfur agency are typically stronger than oral medications that are sent base, and therefore only administered by veterinary professionals who are trained and prepared to monitor a pet to ensure their kernel rate, breathe, and temperature all remain normal during sedation .

What Else Should I Know About Sedatives and Dogs?

It ’ south crucial to understand that sedating a chase much requires trial and error to find the best medicine and dose, since each andiron may respond to sedation differently .
besides, many sedatives can be “ override ” by stress and agitation. so even if a puppy had a great answer to sedation on one occasion, they may have a different response if they ’ re more worked up the adjacent time .
To combat this issue, keep a sedate cad american samoa calm as possible. talk in a tranquillity and soothing voice, keep off brassy noises, and provide a iniquity, quietly place to rest.

Below are some extra crucial tips for sedating a dog .

  • Many vets recommend a “trial run” for short-term sedatives. For example, if using a dog sedative for car travel, give your pup a dose at home before the big travel day to make sure the medication works the way you want it to.
  • Certain sedatives affect a dog’s ability to regulate their body temperature and may make accidents more likely (i.e. dogs should avoid stairs while sedated). Be sure to monitor your pup until they’re more awake, or as advised by your vet.
  • Veterinarians may use a combination of two sedatives together. Often, this achieves great sedation or tranquilization while reducing the risk of side effects. 
  • However, some drugs are not safe to combine (in particular, more than one SSRI should not be used together), so don’t try to do combinations without your vet’s recommendation.
  • Many airlines don’t allow sedatives during travel, due to safety risks. This is especially true for pets flying in cargo who can’t be monitored, and for short-nosed breeds who are more prone to respiratory distress and may have more difficulty regulating their body temperature.

As you can see, dog sedatives are not one-size-fits-all. But after consulting with a veterinarian, most positron emission tomography parents can find an option that works well for keeping their whelp relaxed, happy, and safe .
Could your andiron benefit from sedation ? Schedule a reference with one of our caring veterinarians to learn more .

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