Can Acepromazine Kill a Dog? ( You Need To Know This!)

Can Acepromazine Kill a Dog

As a pet owner myself, if there is one thing that I am always very cautious about is the use of medication for my dog or cat. If possible, I would prefer a more holistic and natural approach to health problems rather than just shoving pills and tablets down my pet’s throat.

However, there might be times when medication is necessary like antibiotics or when your dog is very stressed and requires something to take the edge off. Dog owners with anxious and fearful dogs are familiar with the drug Acepromazine.

There have been rather different opinions about the use of Acepromazine recently. Some owners claim that Acepromazine does more harm than good.

But can Acepromazine be life-threatening to a dog?

It is possible for Acepromazine to be fatal for a dog if the wrong dosage is administered or used for the wrong purpose. Acepromazine is a powerful mind-enhancing drug that can modify the animal’s emotional behavior and should not be taken without proper veterinary advice.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what Acepromazine is, when you should use it and can this drug be deadly to your dog?

What Is Acepromazine?

Acepromazine for dogs

Acepromazine or more commonly known as ‘Ace’ in veterinary medicine, is used as a sedative and chemical restraint for cats and dogs. In some cases, it can also be used on dogs with motion sickness.

The main ingredient is called Acepromazine Maleate and it is known as a neuroleptic agent. This drug works by decreasing the amount of dopamine in your dog’s brain which causes your dog to feel sedated, have relaxed muscles and reduction in spontaneous activity.

The dog’s blood pressure and heart rate will be reduced which helps the dog to calm down and have less of an intense emotional reaction.

Acepromazine needs to be given to your dog about an hour before you need it to be sedated as the active ingredient needs some time to work.

When Does your Dog Need Anti-Anxiety Medication?

anxious looking dog

I wouldn’t recommend giving your dog anti-anxiety medication just because it feels anxious about something. Being anxious at times is common for dogs especially when meeting a new dog or being in a new environment.

These dogs can adapt and calm down after a few minutes.

The kind of anxiety that I’m referring to here is a very strong fear towards a certain trigger that can cause the dog to display signs of adverse reactions. Your dog’s condition should also be clinically diagnosed by a qualified vet or veterinary behaviorist.

Here are some known anxiety issues:

Noise Anxiety

Studies have shown that as many as one out of four dogs can be afraid of loud noises. These dogs get very fearful and anxious when they hear loud sounds.

Some dog breeds are more prone to noise anxiety especially, German Shepherds, Collies, Labradors and Golden Retrievers.

It can be difficult to try and pinpoint the exact type of loud sound that your dog is anxious about. It could be all loud sounds or a sound that reminds your dog of a bad accident it was involved in.

The common noise triggers are:

  • Fireworks
  • Lawnmower
  • Thunderstorms
  • Ambulance
  • Car engine sound
  • Other dogs barking

My dog gets a bit antsy when there’s loud thunder but nothing that causes too much anxiety for him. But in more extreme cases, you might notice these symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Trembling
  • Pooing or peeing indoors
  • Destructive behavior
  • Hiding
  • Excessive vocalisation

Going To The Vet Or Groomer

dog at groomer

If you have a dog that has no problems when it comes to visiting the vet or groomer, you are one lucky dog owner.

For many of us, the energy and effort needed to take our dogs to one of these places feel like an adventure altogether. I have a friend whose Labrador just won’t get out of the car when it knows it has arrived at the vet.

There can be dogs that are so fearful and anxious at the groomers that the poor dog is still shaking after being groomed.

Some dogs can get very aggressive when they are feeling anxious and to ensure everybody’s safety, they might have to be chemically restrained.

The reason why many dogs get anxious is that they have formed a negative association with such places. If you can learn to train your dog to see things differently, it can help with its anxiety.

Separation Anxiety

dog separation anxiety

Many dog owners do not realize that their dogs have severe separation anxiety. When they leave for work in the morning and come back to a home that has been soiled by the dog’s waste, they just assumed that the dog is behaving badly.

I have a next-door neighbor who owns a Terrier. And when both the husband and wife leave for work in the morning, the poor dog will just stand at the gate and bark for most of the day.

It got so bad that I had to personally speak to them and let them know that their pooch might be suffering from separation anxiety.

The best way to tell is to install a few web cameras at home to see how your dog behaves when it is alone.

Why Can Acepromazine Be Bad For Dogs?

As useful as Acepromazine might seem on paper, it has gotten a bad rep over the way it works on dogs.

Some claim that Ace does not actually address the dog’s anxiety but only serves as a sedative for the dog. All that Acepromazine does it to suppress your dog’s movement by making it sleepy or groggy with many dogs starting to expose their third eyelid.

The dog or cat appears calm but the mind is still functioning at 100% capacity making the poor animal still aware of the loud sounds and what’s happening in the environment.

This causes your dog to be even more fearful and stressed because it’s not able to get away from whatever is triggering its stress levels.

Imagine your deepest darkest phobia right in front of you and not being able to move away from it. That’s how a dog on Acepromazine feels like.

In fact, the use of Acepromazine for such dogs can start to take the problem worse each time it happens.

Being trapped inside your own head and not being able to do anything about it can drive most of us insane.

Acepromazine should not be used as a sedative for dogs with severe anxiety or strong phobias. It works better when combined with other drugs like trazodone which has been shown to actually reduce anxiety in dogs.

After all, offering Acepromazine as a sedative isn’t very helpful to your dog if it doesn’t do a good job of relaxing its brain along with the body.

Can You Overdose A Dog On Acepromazine?

The recommended dosage for Acepromazine is 0.25-1g for every pound of body weight. The dosage is to be repeated when necessary.

A study was conducted whereby dogs were given three times the recommended dosage or 3mg/lb. It was observed that the dogs only experienced mild depression which went away after a day.

For some dogs, a high dosage will put them in a very deep sleep that can last up to 12 hours.

Truth be told, it is very possible to overdose your dog on any drug if the dosage is high enough. For dogs that are sensitive to a particular drug, you don’t even need a high enough dosage to cause severe side effects.

An important point to note is that by giving your dog a larger dose, it does not increase the level of sedation. It just makes your dog feel sedated for much longer than needed.

Boxers Should Not Take Acepromazine

Boxers Should Not Take Acepromazine

Based on my conversation with someone that owns a Boxer, taking Acepromazine can be lethal for this dog breed.

This drug can cause a Boxer’s blood pressure to drop dangerously low as well as cause arrhythmia which is an irregular heartbeat.

Even if the Box seems fine after taking the drug, the health problems can show up much later in the life of the dog.

This issue isn’t just seen in Boxers but also in dogs that are brachycephalic breeds (dogs with a short snout). The common breeds are:

  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Mastiffs
  • Pekingese
  • Boston Terriers
  • Shih Tzus

If you own any of the above dog breeds, do not let your dog take Acepromazine at all. There are many other drugs that can do a similar job.

Who Else Should Not Take Acepromazine?

Besides Boxers and dogs that are brachycephalic, here are some precautions that you need to be aware of if you plan to give your dog Ace.

  • Should not be used in dogs with anemia
  • Dogs who have hypothyroidism
  • Older dogs with liver or kidney disease should avoid taking Ace
  • Pregnant and lactating dogs should not be given Acepromazine
  • Not to be used in puppies as Ace can affect thermo regulation
  • Giant dog breeds like Great Danes are known to be very sensitive to Acepromazine

We Should Be Careful When Using Ace

Anxiety in dogs is a tricky issue to treat as it is difficult to get any feedback on how they are actually feeling with and without medication.

It can be more convenient to just pop a few pills in your dog’s mouth when it is time to visit the vet or get a long-awaited bath at the vet. But we should not be using such powerful drugs so frivolously.

Many vets and grooming centers tend to ‘ace’ dogs and cats just to make things easier. I do agree that it is required at times but try to go with an option that doesn’t require medication if possible.

Behavioral therapy has helped many pets with anxiety issues.

Maybe that’s a good alternative to consider for your dog.