What Sedation Is Safe For Dogs

Every puppy has different demands. If a dog is in need of a tranquilizer or sedative, a veterinarian will take into account things including the severity of the symptoms, the duration of the anxiety, the dog’s medical history, and whether the dog is taking any drugs or supplements that might interfere with a sedative.

A veterinarian will also think about all the impacts a drug might have on a dog, including:

  • Some drugs cause drowsiness in dogs instead of calming them down. These drugs might be useful in short-term circumstances (like during a routine vet appointment or to encourage rest in a dog recovering from knee surgery), but they might not be the best option for a dog with extreme anxiety.
  • Tranquilizers are pharmaceuticals that have a relaxing or anti-anxiety effect, but may or may not result in sleepiness or sedation (although some drugs may cause both).
  • While some drugs relieve pain, others do not. For example, older, arthritic dogs who tighten their muscles when they are anxious and become sore after a car ride or grooming session may benefit from pain treatment.


Technically speaking, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is not a sedative. Antihistamines like this one are frequently used to treat allergy symptoms. Sedation is a relatively frequent adverse effect, though.

The over-the-counter drug Benadryl has a good safety margin. However, it’s still crucial to consult your veterinarian about the proper dosage and composition (notice that diphenhydramine should be the only active component; avoid using Benadryl in combination with decongestants or other medicines).

Benadryl may be an effective dog sedative for road trips because it also treats moderate motion sickness.

Side symptoms like a dry mouth or a faster heartbeat are pretty typical. Rarely, some dogs will respond in an unusual way and become excited rather than sedate.


Acepromazine sedative effects. It is frequently administered through injection as one among the medications used to create anesthesia during surgery.

The prescription can also be administered to a dog at home in the form of an oral tablet, 20 to 60 minutes prior to activities like grooming, veterinary visits, or automobile trips. Acepromazine tablets alone might not be sufficient for a pet that is extremely worried, afraid, or aggressive because the drug doesn’t relieve anxiety very well (i.e., not the ideal choice for storm/firework phobias or persistent fears).

Acepromazine frequently causes low blood pressure as a side effect, hence it is frequently avoided in canines that already have medical issues like heart issues.


Seizure control, anxiety alleviation, sedation, and pain management are just a few of the uses for the drug gabapentin. It’s a typical dog tranquilizer for grooming, travel, medical appointments, and other momentary occurrences.

In healthy pets, gabapentin is typically regarded as safe with little negative effects.


Trazodone has the ability to calm a dog down and reduce nervousness. For grooming, veterinary appointments, thunderstorms/fireworks, and other transiently stressful situations, this is a good dog sedative.

Trazodone may need to be taken with caution or avoided in patients with specific medical conditions due to its side effects, which include low blood pressure.

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Etc.)

These medications support dogs who experience anxiety during stressful situations (thunderstorms, veterinarian appointments, grooming, travel, or fireworks), although they typically don’t have significant sedative effects.

Although benzodiazepines are typically regarded as safe, certain dogs with underlying medical issues may want to avoid taking them. Additionally, they may elicit excitement rather than relaxation in some dogs.

Drugs for Long-term Anxiety Issues

Some dogs may require daily medicine for a longer period of time, such as those with acute separation anxiety or a fear of thunderstorms. Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are examples of common pharmaceutical classes. Fluoxetine, clomipramine, and amitriptyline are common choices.

Although side effects can vary, common ones include upset stomach, irregular heartbeat, sedation, or excitability. In dogs with specific underlying medical disorders, some medications must be avoided or administered with caution.

Injectable Sedation

Oral medication doesn’t always sooth anxiety or induce enough drowsiness in certain puppies. Veterinarian-administered injectable sedation may be required for these animals during a checkup, toenail trim, x-rays, or other treatments.

Only veterinary professionals who are trained and equipped to monitor a pet to ensure that their heart rate, breathing, and temperature remain normal during sedation can administer injectable medications at a veterinarian’s office because they are typically stronger than oral medications that are sent home.

How can I tranquilize my dog so I can groom him at home?

Dog grooming with sedative You could try taking the diphenhydramine-containing drug Benadryl. Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine usually used for allergies, has modest sedative properties in both people and dogs.

Can I tranquilize my dog?

Many pet owners have to think about whether or not to tranquilize or sedate their dog when traveling or moving at some point, especially if you intend to fly with your furry friend. Typically, the simple response is “no” outright. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sedating your pets while traveling might raise the risk of respiratory and heart issues, particularly if you are planning to fly with them. Because of this, sedation for animals during transportation is typically not advised. Veterinarians occasionally, but not frequently, may advise mild tranquilizers for use during flight travel.

You shouldn’t decide to sedate your pet unless your veterinarian has advised you to do so or at the very least approved it. Instead of sedatives, they’ll probably advise mild tranquilizers or anti-anxiety medications. You must be sure to closely adhere to the veterinarian’s dose advice, though. If you give your dog a dose of the tranquilizers that they contain that is too high, they may easily sedate them. You also need to be aware that some airlines do not allow the sedation of animals on their flights. You might need to fill out paperwork certifying that you didn’t sedate your pet before flying with them.

Which over-the-counter sedative works best on dogs?

Dogs that are scared or aggressive provide a number of difficulties for small animal practitioners. These patients are challenging to thoroughly assess and pose a safety risk to the employees of the clinic, the veterinarian, and occasionally even the owner. A worried dog also increases stress levels in the workplace, which affects both people and other animals. Pre-hospital sedation can significantly enhance the experience for everyone involved in that patient’s care in cases when canines who are known to be violent in a hospital setting or those who have extreme fear or anxiety make physical exams and basic assessment impossible are the patients.

It is crucial that the veterinarian acting as the prescriber has sufficient knowledge of the dog’s health status and is aware of when a drug is contraindicated before thinking about pre-hospital sedatives.

1 Before recommending any of the suggested drugs, a thorough medical examination should be conducted. Each go-home drug should also be reviewed with the owner in terms of any potential patient risks and what to expect once the patient is back at home. Acepromazine, gabapentin, trazadone, and melatonin are the treatments discussed in this short article that are intended to supplement low stress handling in the clinic setting to make a patient more receptive to handling (for example, bringing overly aggressive dogs directly into an exam room rather than having these dogs sit in a waiting room with other stressed/vocal animals).

The sedative acepromazine, which belongs to the phenothiazine class, is frequently used in veterinary medicine, mainly during the perianesthetic period. Acepromazine principally affects behavior by attaching to and blocking dopamine receptors in the limbic and basal ganglia. 2,3 While the oral formulation has historically been used to manage anxieties at home (such as thunderstorms, fireworks, etc.), it can be unreliable in terms of desired sedative effect and onset/duration are frequently variable. The medication is available for veterinary use in two forms: oral and injectable. However, the injectable form that is given orally and transmucosally (OTM) provides extremely dependable mild to moderate sedation in 20 to 30 minutes. The dosage is strictly adhered to the approved intramuscular (IM) dosing with this method of administration (Table 1). 2,3,4 Send owners home with the injectable without a needle, two doses in case one is lost during administration attempt, and instructions that effects are more intense after absorption from the oral mucosa when giving this medication to aggressive or fearful dogs. The list of contraindications mostly consists of disease conditions that would prevent someone from taking acepromazine in an anesthetic regimen (Table 1).

An effective painkiller, antiepileptic, and anxiolytic, gabapentin is increasingly being utilized in veterinary medicine to treat chronic pain.

1,5 Although the precise mechanism of analgesia’s effect is unknown, its connection with voltage-gated calcium channels has been theorized. 2,3,5 Sedation that follows gabapentin medication is frequently significant in the acute setting (initial one to two days of dosing). Because of this, gabapentin is an excellent drug to use either alone or frequently in conjunction with acepromazine as a pre-hospital sedative protocol in the difficult dog patient. Below are suggested dosage guidelines and deadlines (Table 1). Owners should be mindful that their pet will frequently appear much more relaxed at home. Clients taking gabapentin either by itself or in conjunction with other sedatives should be advised to have supervision when climbing stairs and getting in and out of cars.

Trazodone is categorized as a serotonin receptor antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI),2,6,7 and is typically utilized in acute hospital settings to treat anxious people, as well as long-term as a sole or adjunctive medication in dogs with anxiety disorders.

7 Despite having a high safety profile, trazodone should be used with caution in individuals who have a history of heart arrhythmias since serotonergic drugs may enhance the possibility for heart arrhythmias. 8 For pre-hospital sedation, it is advised to start at 5 mg/kg because the onset of effect is approximately an hour, and the dosing range for this medicine is wide (Table 1).

Dogs can purchase melatonin, a hormone produced naturally by the pineal gland, as a neutraceutical (http://www.lignans.net/melatonin1.html). Melatonin has been effective in treating several endocrine diseases, but it also helps dogs with stress issues. Melatonin is therefore recommended as an over-the-counter treatment for the hospital-acquired aggression and anxiety in dogs (Table 1).

What dosage of Benadryl should I use to sedate my dog?

One milligram per pound, taken two to three times a day, is the typical dosage. A half dose is frequently advised by veterinarians to observe how much the drug sedates the dog the first time. Additionally, pet owners should be informed that alternative sizes are available besides the standard 25 mg dosage for tablets and capsules (like 50 mg). Examine the bottle’s labels.