What Is Acepromazine?

By Jen Davis

Acepromazine is a tranquilizer commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat anxiety. It works by depressing the central nervous system, interfering with the dopamine receptors in the brain and reducing your pet's expression of fear and anxiety. Acepromazine also reduces nausea, lowers blood pressure and can stabilize your dog's heart rate.

Acepromazine and Dogs

Acepromazine is commonly given to dogs who suffer from anxiety as a result of thunderstorms, firecrackers, being taken to the groomers and other situations a nervous dog can find intimidating. This medication will mentally and physically calm your pet, reducing signs of anxiety and fear. It can prevent your dog from engaging in potentially destructive or harmful behaviors as a result of his fear. A dog who has taken acepromazine should behave as if relaxed and possibly a little bit drowsy. The effects of this drug will last between six to eight hours.

Giving Your Dog Acepromazine

Acepromazine is typically given in pill form but can be given as an injectable medication. Acepromazine is normally given 45 minutes to an hour before it needs to take effect. Always give the exact dosage your veterinarian has prescribed. If you have questions, contact your veterinarian. Giving too high a dose of acepromazine can be hazardous for your dog because acepromazine lowers blood pressure. Your pet's blood pressure can dip dangerously low if your dog takes too much of the drug. You ideally want to administer acepromazine to your dog before he becomes upset and anxious, as this will minimize his overall distress. It also will help improve his overall state of comfort if you can keep him calm while the drug takes effect.

Side Effects of Acepromazine

Side effects can occur when you give your dog acepromazine. Some side effects are fairly harmless, such as exposure of the third eyelid, sedation, depression, slight loss of coordination and constipation. Others should be viewed as a cause for serious concern. Serious side effects include increased aggression, difficulty breathing, hives, seizures, convulsions, vomiting, swelling of lips, tongue or face. Death may occur in some situations. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog appears to be having medical problems after you have administered acepromazine.

Interactions With Other Medications

Acepromazine has been known to react with an assortment of medications, including aminoglycoside antibiotics, antacids, antidiarrheal drugs, anesthesia, anticholinergics, phenobarbital, clomipramine, drugs that depress the central nervous system, epinephrine, atropine sulfate, phenylpropanolamine, propranolol, phenytoin sodium and quinidine. Acepromazine should not be given to dogs with liver, heart or kidney disease. Do not give acepromazine to dogs who are suffering from low blood pressure, as it will lower their blood pressure to potentially dangerous levels.