Can Acepromazine Kill A Dog?

Let’s say your dog has been having trouble staying calm for grooming appointments, or maybe he/ she’s very anxious when it comes to traveling- and you have a huge trip coming up ahead.

Your vet has prescribed a drug called Acepromazine for your pet to take that you’ve never given to your dog before, and you may be quite hesitant. 

After all, wouldn’t sedatives with long, fancy names be dangerous to give to dogs just for regular occasions?

Is there any risk of death, and is it worth it?

Thankfully, there’s little to no risk of your dog ever dying as a result of acepromazine.

Even in trials where dogs received up to 100mg/lb of the drug, there was no death. 

This being said, overdoses and adverse reactions can happen if dogs receive too many tablets, or if it’s not right for your dog.

That’s exactly why it’s important to discuss with your vet if this drug is the best option for your pup. 

We’ve come up with some answers to a bunch of questions that you probably have about acepromazine.

We want you to be able to make informed decisions about the health and safety of your dog, and have peace of mind while doing so!

What is Acepromazine?

Acepromazine is an FDA-approved sedative/tranquilizer used for dogs and cats. It was actually originally used as an antipsychotic for humans in the 50s!

The drug is a phenothiazine derivative, which means that it decreases dopamine levels in animals and will depress some parts of their reticular activating system.

Acepromazine decreases anxiety, drops blood pressure and heart rate, and causes muscular relaxation. 

When Will My Vet Prescribe My Dog Acepromazine? 

Your vet might prescribe acepromazine for your dog for a variety of reasons! Oftentimes it will be before a long travel day, especially if your dog is prone to motion sickness or travel anxiety.

Sometimes your pup may have to deal with itching and scratching as a result of allergies, and acepromazine can help to reduce these annoyances. 

The drug might be prescribed for your dog to take prior to grooming appointments, nail trimming, or office visits to calm him or her down. This is especially true for pets that are too rowdy to handle safely without some sedation. 

What Dosage of Acepromazine Should Be Given to Dogs?

It’s important to give a low dosage of acepromazine to your dog at first to stop any adverse reactions from happening! 

The recommended amount is 0.25-1mg/lb of body weight. 

However, acepromazine is generally still safe if you go beyond the proper dosage, a safety study showed no adverse reactions when dogs were given three times the recommended daily dosage.

If you’re using acepromazine regularly, you might need to increase the dosage by half a tablet at a time. This is because your dog will build up a tolerance over time and the same amount of the drug won’t produce the desired sedative effect. 

How To Administer Acepromazine To Dogs Correctly? 

Acepromazine can be administered either through injection or ingested by tablets

Usually, the drug will only be injected by a veterinarian, as this process can be dangerous and is better handled by professionals. Your vet will prescribe tablets for your pet for at-home or on-the-road use. 

These tablets can be administered orally to your pets and hidden in their food for the dogs who are a bit pickier, and reluctant to eat their medication.

How To Give an Acepromazine Pill To A Dog Successfully?

If you’re having trouble getting your dog to swallow the acepromazine tablets, no need to worry, there are solutions for you! 

Hiding the tablet in their food usually works, this can be done by packing a small ball of meat, dog food, or cheese around the tablet. Dogs will usually swallow these whole which means that they won’t even be able to taste or feel the medicine. 

This method also helps with digesting the tablets which will help your dog avoid any stomach aches. As a rule, don’t give your pets any type of medication on an empty stomach.

If you are still having trouble getting your pet to ingest the sedative, here is how to open your dog’s mouth and get them to swallow it:

  1. Using your non-dominant hand, hold your dog’s head from the top 
  2. Tilt your dog’s head backward
  3. Gently fold their upper lip over their teeth as you open their mouth
  4. Drop the tablet as far back over their tongue as you can
  5. Right away, close their mouth 
  6. Blow on their nose, encouraging it to swallow

This process might take some time to get right, and dealing with your doggy’s sharp teeth can be a bit dangerous! 

If you happen to get bitten, make sure to clean the wound right away and go to the hospital. Dog bite wounds can be dangerous as there’s a lot of bacteria in their mouths that’s harmful to us humans.

How Long Does It Take For Acepromazine To Work On Dogs?

The time it takes for acepromazine to work on dogs will depend on a lot of factors, such as the size and breed of your dog, and if they’ve been given the drug before.

Generally, the sedative will take thirty to sixty minutes to kick in, typically only thirty. If this is your dog’s first time, make sure to administer the drug an hour before whatever event that they need to be calm for. 

How Long Does It Take Acepromazine To Wear Off On Dogs?

Acepromazine is typically a pretty long-lasting tranquilizer. The sedative effect usually will last for six to eight hours, but could even be prolonged in certain cases.

Make sure to plan your doggy’s day accordingly so that they have lots of time to get their energy back after the sedation!

What Are The Side-Effects Of Acepromazine For Dogs? 

First off, acepromazine should never be used in puppies, old dogs, lactating dogs, or pregnant dogs. If it is, it may produce harmful side effects for your pets. 

You should also avoid the drug if your dogs have:

  • Significant heart disease
  • Low blood pressure
  • Severe dehydration
  • Tetanus 
  • Shock 

Certain dogs may react negatively to the drug. It could cause aggression, biting or chewing, and nervousness. In many cases, it can make your dog drowsy.

Dog breeds that are more susceptible to these negative side effects include:

  • Collies
  • Sheepdogs
  • Bulldogs
  • Collie, bulldog, or sheepdog cross-breeds

This is because these breeds have a genetic mutation that makes them react poorly to and not be able to tolerate high doses of acepromazine and other drugs.

If your dog matches any of these descriptions, it’s a good idea to discuss some alternatives with your vet that won’t have any harmful effects.

Are There Any Alternatives To Acepromazine For Dogs?

If you don’t think acepromazine is the right choice for your dog, there are many alternatives that will help calm your pet down and reduce their anxiety. 

If your dog happens to be especially anxious or acts up before, after, or during events, a drug can help for the time being- but most likely won’t actually cure the underlying issue. Behavioral therapy for dogs is a great option to reduce anxiety and get to the root of the problem.

Body wraps that provide reassuring pressure for anxious dogs can be bought online or through your vet clinic. 

If you are looking for other oral sedatives for your dog, there are plenty of other over-the-counter options available for mild anxiety that will quickly calm your pet down. 

Some of these options include:

  • Diazepam and butorphanol
  • Phenobarbital and diazepam 
  • Dexmedetomidine
  • Ketamine 
  • Butorphanol 

There are other more natural ways of reducing anxiety in dogs such as nutritional supplements. Some of these options include:

  • L-theanine 
  • Melatonin
  • S-adenosyl-methionine

What should I do if my dog doesn’t wake up after Acepromazine? 

In the rare but not impossible case that your dog appears to be unconscious after you administer acepromazine, they are most likely experiencing an overdose. If this is the case, it’s important to get your pet some medical attention as quickly as possible. 

Other symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Unsteady movement
  • Slowed heart rate

In order to avoid any potential overdoses, it’s important to talk to your vet about dosage and make sure that you’re not exceeding the amount that’s safe for your specific dog. 

In addition to this, make sure that your vet is aware of any other medications that your dog takes. Acepromazine may have a negative effect if it’s mixed with any other drugs that are in your pet’s system. 

Acepromazine can be a very helpful sedative when used right! It can make trips to the nail trimmer or long plane rides much less stressful for all of you dog owners out there. 

Just remember that if it’s a drug that is being used regularly, there may be some underlying issues to talk to your vet about. As always, every dog is different, and talking to your vet about the proper dosage for your dog is always a good idea. 

However, acepromazine is generally useful and safe for your pup and you are in no way putting them at risk of death!