Known commercially as PromAce or Aceproject, acepromazine is widely used as a tranquilizer for pets. If your cat gets anxious or motion sick from car rides, or has a fit when it's time for a visit to the groomer, a little bit of this medication will help soothe her nerves. Available only by prescription, your vet will determine the proper dosage of acepromazine for your cat.
How Acepromazine Works
Acepromazine works by changing the chemicals in your cat's brain to change her behavior. Dr. Dawn Ruben of Pet Place notes that though the exact mechanism for how the drug works isn't confirmed, it's believed acepromazine blocks the brain's dopamine receptors. Ultimately, acepromazine depresses the central nervous system to act as an effective, and popular, tranquilizer for cats and dogs alike.
Though it's a great sedative, it doesn't do anything to relieve pain, however it has great anti-nausea effects. In addition to helping with motion sickness, acepromazine helps keep a stable heart rhythm, especially useful for an easily frightened, skittish cat and is popular among veterinarians as a sedative given to pets in preparation for general anesthesia.
When your vet uses acepromazine, it may be in its injectable form. Tablets, in 5 mg, 10 mg and 25 mg dosages, make it handy for home administration. It takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour for the medicine to take effect, and when it does, the effects usually last between six and eight hours. If your cat is taking other sedatives, the vet will take that into account when developing the prescription.
The vet may recommend a "test run" of acepromazine to ensure the dose is effective; often starting with the smallest dose possible to achieve the desired effect. For example, if you're taking a road trip with your cat, the vet may suggest you administer a small dose several days prior to the trip to make sure the dose is adequate for your cat. If not, you and the vet will have time to determine the proper dosage.
Acepromazine Side Effects
Rarely, a cat will exhibit aggressive behavior on acepromazine. More common is the appearance of the cat's third eyelid. Though the appearance of this seldom-seen part of your cat's eye is alarming if you've never caught sight of it, don't worry because it's a normal reaction to this tranquilizer and has no harmful effects to your cat. Other potential side effects include low blood pressure, loss of coordination, constipation, seizures, vomiting and shock. Your cat's body temperature may drop on acepromazine, so provide her a blanket or a warm spot when she's on this medication.
Contraindications of Acepromazine
A cat with heart disease should be cautious using acepromazine, given its effect on blood pressure. A cat who is prone to seizures should avoid this medication, as should one with anemia, liver disease or kidney disease. Acepromazine can interact with a variety of medications, including some antibiotics such as neomycin, barbiturate drugs such as phenobarbital, antacids, antidiarrheals, epinephrine and the heart medication quinidine.