Dog Tranquilizer Use and Precautions

A dog tranquilizer has helpful uses and benefits. However, dog owners should be aware of precautions that should be taken if a canine is using tranquilizers.

Why a Dog May Need a Tranquilizer

Dogs that have bad behavior may act-out in a negative way as a result of anxiety problems. Anxiety can stem from circumstances in a dog's environment such as unnecessary discipline or loud noises (like thunder or fireworks). A difference in routine—being separated from the owner, the arrival of a new baby, having guests in the home, or an owner feeling ill—can cause a dog to become nervous. Different experiences, like being groomed or taking a bath, can also cause a dog much anxiety.

Behavior training, along with the use of a tranquilizer, may be recommended be a veterinarian to help a dog have better control over his nerves. 


Acepromazine is a tranquilizer prescribed to dogs quite frequently. One of its main ingredients is a phenothiazine derivative, which can lower dopamine levels in a dog's brain. Although the drug is not 100% understood, it is commonly used to treat dogs that have a lot of anxiety as the central nervous system becomes depressed. Dog owners may give a dog Acepromazine before a car ride, a veterinary appointment or even a grooming appointment if these things cause a lot of angst to a canine. Aceorinazine comes in an injectable form called Aceproject and a tablet called Aceprotabs.

Precautions should be taken in dogs that are anemic or dehydrated as a side effect of Acepromazine is a drop in a dog's blood pressure and breathing rate. Older dogs or those with heart or liver disease, along with dogs that are injured, should avoid taking this tranquilizer in the quantities a healthy dog would take. Dogs that have a history of seizures, epilepsy, tetanus poisoning, strychnine poisoning, are pregnant or nursing puppies, or dogs that are young should never take Acepromazine. Dog breeds that are more sensitive to the effects of Acepromazine include those in the larger or "giant" breeds, greyhounds and brachycepalic breeds.

An overdose of Aceprozamine can cause a decreased ability to focus, difficulty walking and pale gums. In some cases, an overdose can cause a dog to lose consciousness, have seizures or die.  

Hydroxyzine Pamoate

Hydroxyzine Pamoate is a drug used as a sedative, tranquilizer and antihistamine. The FDA has not approved the use of this medication for dogs, but veterinarians often administer this medicine as an extra-label drug. A common brand-name for this drug is Vistaril.

The side effects of Hydroxyzine Pamoate include nausea, weakness and an increase in thirst, drowsiness, confusion and sedation. Dogs that are allergic to antihistamines may have an adverse reaction to this drug. Dog that are pregnant, nursing, have heart problems, glaucoma or a urinary or intestinal obstruction should not take Hydroxyzine Pamoate. A Hydroxyzine Pamoate overdose can cause a dog to have diarrhea, a lack of appetite, sedation and vomiting.

Tranquilizers can produce many benefits in a dog, especially if a pet owner's lifestyle or the dog's quality of life has declined as a result of a pet’s anxiety. One should always consult a vet before giving a dog a tranquilizer as many precautions need to first be made.