The Side Effects of Acepromazine for Dogs

Acepromazine is a drug prescribed for dogs as a tranquilizer, to relieve anxiety and sometimes for itching. Acepromazine can be appropriate for certain dogs before surgery, examinations or grooming. The drug also prevents vomiting and is therefore prescribed before car travel for dogs that are anxious and/or experience motion sickness, and to prevent vomiting after surgery. Acepromazine is also known as PromAce, Aceproject and by other trade or generic names.

Side Effects of Acepromazine

Acepromazine is generally considered a safe drug for dogs, but side effects can occur in some cases.  These may include:

  • Hypotension, or lowering of the blood pressure (Boxers may be more sensitive to this side effect)
  • Instead of becoming sedated, some animals become excited and overly aggressive
  • Dogs prone to seizures may be more likely to experience them after taking acepromazine
  • Lower body temperature
  • May cause urine to temporarily turn pink in color

As with any drug, it can interact with other medication, so always use acepromazine that has been prescribed by a veterinarian. Inform your vet of any other medications or treatments (prescribed or not) currently being administered to your pet, especially any CNS (Central Nervous System) medication. Let your vet know of any side effects your dog has experienced on other medications to determine if the dog has an allergy or susceptibility to certain medication.

Dosage and Toxicity Levels

The average recommended dose for acepromazine is .25mg to 1mg per pound of body weight, but dosage will depend on the purpose for prescribing the drug. Always follow dosage amounts and schedules from your veterinarian and give the medication to your dog at the appropriate time before surgery, medical procedures or car rides, according to your vet's instructions.

Toxicity levels for the drug are much higher than the recommended dosage, so chances of overdose are low. Owners should monitor their pets after surgery, car travel or medical procedures when the drug has been used and watch for side effects and any unusual changes in health or behavior.

Signs that your dog may be experiencing an allergic reaction to acepromazine include:

  • Swelling of the lips and/or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms.

Uses for Acepromazine

Acepromazine comes in oral tablets and injectable forms, and is often used in combination with other medication to sedate dogs for medical examinations (like X-rays) and surgeries, and to help prevent vomiting after surgery. Oral tablets are available and can help dogs that experience anxiety, motion sickness and excitement when traveling in cars or anxiety during storms. Acepromazine has no pain-relieving properties.

Because the drug can have the opposite reaction of the its intended purpose and cause a dog to become more excitable, acepromazine may not be appropriate for aggressive or fearful dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog's personality, behavior and medical history before starting any new medical treatment.