Sometimes called ace for short, acepromazine is prescribed as a sedative for dogs suffering from anxious reactions to stressful events such as thunderstorms, fireworks or travel. Vets also sometimes use ace to treat motion sickness. Used in combination with opioid pain relievers, acepromazine helps dogs recover from surgeries and is often used before the procedures to make dogs easier to handle for veterinary staff without stressing the dog.
Ace for dogs dosage
The normal prescribed dosage for acepromazine is 0.25 milligrams to 1 milligram per pound of body weight (0.5 to 2.2 milligrams per kilogram). So, for example, a 40-pound dog would get a minimum dose of 10 milligrams, a 100-pound dog 25 milligrams per dose. Acepromazine comes in 10 milligrams and 25 milligrams size tablets, scored in quarters for easy splitting.
Timing doses for effectiveness
The minimum effective dose of acepromazine works best when administered 45 minutes to one hour before the expected stressful event. This particular dog tranquilizer becomes effective 20 to 30 minutes after ingestion and the sedative effects should last several hours, though the drug does remain in the dog's system for up to three weeks.
Dog sedative effects
Proper dosage should calm the dog and make her sleepy. Lack of coordination can also result, so watch sedated dogs closely to avoid injury to them or others. Puffiness of the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, is common, as is a pink coloration to the urine.
Veterinarians say an overdose of acepromazine is difficult to accomplish, and high doses of the drug typically cause no ill effects. However, a dangerous overdose isn't impossible. Signs of an overdose include severely lowered blood pressure (hypotension), pale gums, excessive sleepiness, arrhythmic heartbeat (bradycardia), and seizure.
If you suspect an overdose, seek veterinary attention immediately. The veterinarian can treat overdose symptoms until the dogs liver metabolizes the drug and clears it from her system.
Proceed with caution
Because any drug can cause a reaction, it's best to take some precautions even with relatively safe drugs like ace. First-time users of acepromazine should begin at the lowest recommended dose. Observe the dog's behavior and symptoms before increasing or decreasing the dosage.
If acepromazine is given post-op and prescribed as ongoing treatment, the dog's liver will become adapted to the drug and more efficient at removing it. This means the dosage will gradually need to increase to remain effective. Once the dog has ceased use of acepromazine, begin with the lowest dose once more if he ever needs the drug again.
Noted ace contraindications
Certain breeds react poorly to acepromazine. Boxers tend to have exaggerated reactions to minimal doses of acepromazine that include episodes of bradycardia and hypotension. Veterinarians can still use acepromazine in combination with atropine for breeds that are sensitive to the drug but will monitor these dogs closely.
Terrier breeds tend to metabolize this drug faster than other dogs, and show resistance to its effects. Very aggressive dogs are unpredictable on this sedative — acepromazine induces a sleepy state that can be overcome by adrenaline long enough for the dog to deal with the perceived threat and then return to sleepiness. Do not allow small children to bother a sedated dog. Dogs prone to seizures may have more of them when taking acepromazine.
Tell your vet if your dog has recently gotten a flea dip or treatment that contained organophosphates.