|As veterinarians, all
too often we are called upon to vaccinate, examine, or otherwise deal with
dogs who are aggressive, fearful, poorly trained, not properly socialized,
or all of the above. Many veterinarians seek information to adequately
sedate these dogs with oral medications prior to their appointments.
Various medications have been tried with limited success. It is important
to remember that with many tranquilizers, the drugs help the patient to be
tranquil or calm when all is well, but have no sedative effect when the
animal is stimulated. Most veterinarians would recommend skipping oral
sedatives and going right to injectable medications as they have a more
predictable response. Use care, have the owner muzzle the dog at home, and
warn the client of all the risks associated with sedating an aggressive
dog (including death). Here are some options for oral medications if you
find yourself in need of this information.
- Acepromazine – doses in Plumb range from 0.55 to 2.2 mg/kg orally. Its use as a sole
oral sedative is questionable at best. It is poorly absorbed when given
with food. Many vets have found this to be an unreliable sedative. Many
dogs appear sedated, but can easily overcome their sedation with any
stimulus, leading to unpredictable behavior. Or, even worse, leading to a
false sense of security on the part of the staff or veterinarians with the
inevitable consequence of injury.
- Diazepam – Can be dosed up to 2.2 mg/kg orally. It is important to remember that
it can have a disinhibitory effect on certain patients. Removing what
little inhibition the patient may have to bite you is less than ideal.
- Pentobarbital – doses up to 60mg/kg (pre-euthanasia) have been used effectively1
- Alprazolam (Xanax) – Published dose in Plumb is 0.1mg/kg for anxiety. Anecdotally,
some veterinarians are giving this at 0.5mg/kg up to 8mg total dose for
oral sedation in the extreme case.
& Acepromazine – one
paper1 advocated the use of telazol powder at 20mg/kg
mixed in food. This combination had predictable, heavy sedation when
combined with 2.2mg/kg acepromazine PO. Keep in mind that 7 of 8 dogs were
sternally recumbent and reluctant to stand. 6 of 8 dogs were laterally
recumbent and unable to maintain sternal recumbency. The patient may need
to be kept in the hospital until able to ambulate.
- One of our
members has used telazol at 10 mg/kg (using the injectable solution) with
acepromazine at 2.2 mg/kg and found a very attractive, balanced level of
restraint with sternal recumbency in an otherwise insanely wild 25 kg
canine. This patient was able to ambulate within 5 hours of the
Several other combinations have also been described:
1.25mg/kg + Diazepam 0.5mg/kg
- Butorphenol +
2 to 2.5 mg/kg BID + Diazepam 0.5 to 1mg/kg BID - TID