Use of Acepromazine in Pets


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The Use of Acepromazine in Animals Causes Concerns

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The use of acepromazine in animals is known to block dopamine nerve receptors in the brain as its mode of action; it is considered a phenothiazine compound tranquilizer with a very safe anti-emetic effect. It is also known to be controversial regarding its usage in the treatment of some forms of animal psychoses.

Use of Acepromazine

Credit: Nancy Houser

Commonly used as a general anesthesia by veterinarians to prepare animals for surgery, the use of a prescription-required acepromazine for pet owners who have animals with loud-noise syndrome can be mistakenly used.

This controversy is derived from the fact many recent researchers feel that the use of acepromazine actually enhances the animal’s perception of loud noises (i.e. thunderstorms, fireworks, et.) instead of reducing them.

But taken approximately 45-minutes to one hour before it takes effect, it is an excellent medication for traveling pets as it aids in anxiety and motion sickness, stabilizing the rhythm of the animal’s heart while allaying its fear. Classified also as an antihistamine

The use of acepromazine in dogs and cats is available in 5 mg, 10 mg and 25 mg tablets or as an injectable medication under the brand name of Aceproject (Vetus), Aceprotabs (Vetus), or PromAce (Fort Dodge). The tablets are quarter-scored with a usual dosage of 0.25-1.0 mg/pound given orally, with a 25mg tablet of acepromazine usually costing around 60 cents each.

Use of Acepromazine

Credit: Nancy Houser

Recent medical technology in small animals is demonstrating that the tranquilizer group of benzodiazepines (such as alprazolam) is superior to the use of acepromazine even though it has been the traditional use by veterinarians for decades.

Conditions requiring acepromazine treatments

  • Tranquilization (a diagnosis which requires a 6-to-8 hour tranquilizer)
  • Motion or car sickness
  • To alleviate fear such as traveling or flying
  • General anxiety for examinations, treatments or grooming

Side effects of acepromazine

Using acepromazine is one of long duration, expected to last approximately six to eight hours while being known to color the animal’s urine pink. It generally is prescribed for dogs only, with FDA approval only for them. But many veterinarians use it on cats also.

The use of acepromazine may cause several side effects to develop: difficulty breathing; swelling of the lips, tongues, or face; hives; signs of being sedated; depression; lack of coordination; low blood pressure (hypotension); very slow heart rates and slow breathing. The Boxer breed has been known to have an exaggerated reaction – with some reports of death – after the use of acepromazine. Also, dogs who have seizure disorders are more apt to have a seizure after the use of acepromazine.

The treatment may have an opposite effect on an animal, so using it for the diagnosis of aggression in an animal may cause a serious problem. For safety reasons and its side effects, acepromazine cannot be used on any animal with liver disease, seizure disorders, heart disease or if the animal is pregnant or lactating. Other medications the animal may be taking can also influence how this drug will affect the animal. Dogs who have been dipped or treated with organophosphates for flea control should not be treated with acepromazine. Alternatives to the use of acepromazine in dogs and cats

As an alternative to the use of acepromazine in dogs and cats, some other suggestions are Benadryl or the natural Rescue Remedy which can be placed under the tongue in these situations. The animal is less “druggy” and there are less side effects with the use of Rescue Remedy.

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This article is re-posted with the permission of Nancy Houser of WayCoolDogs © 2009 – 2014