Using Xanax for Dogs With Anxiety Disorders

Xanax for dogs is often used to treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or the symptoms of extreme grief. While Xanax is often used to treat the symptoms of anxiety in humans, it's important not to treat your dog's anxiety with a Xanax prescription intended for human use. See your veterinarian for a canine prescription, and make sure that prescription is re-evaluated and renewed every six months.

Uses for Canine Xanax

The active ingredient in the prescription drug Xanax is alprazolam. It's considered a benzodiazepine tranquilizer, in the same class as drugs like Valium. Alprazolam is a controlled substance, available only by prescription.

While veterinarians place great emphasis on training, animal behaviorists are increasingly using human behavior modification drugs to treat behavior disorders in domestic animals. Veterinarians often prescribe Xanax to treat some of the following behavioral disorders in dogs:

  • Anxiety, specifically thunderstorm and other phobias, separation anxiety and situational anxiety.
  • It's also used as a muscle relaxant, an anticonvulsant or an appetite stimulant. Xanax may also be useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Depression, especially depression brought on by extreme grief.

Dosage Information for Canine Xanax

Alprazolam is available in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg tablets. It's also available in the form of a solution containing 0.5 mg per 5 ml or 1 mg per ml.

The typical Xanax dosage for dogs is 0.01 to 0.05 mg per pound, administered orally every 12 hours. Never administer Xanax to your dog without the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The duration of treatment can vary, depending on the condition being treated, your dog's response to the medication, and the side effects he might experience.

Side Effects and Other Considerations

Xanax can cause adverse side effects in some dogs. Never give Xanax to a dog with known sensitivities to the drug. Any dog with health issues such as glaucoma, muscular weakness or liver disease isn't a good candidate for Xanax treatment. Xanax can interact with other medications, so let your veterinarian know if your dog is receiving any other medications, even non-prescription treatments such as aspirin.

The most common side effects of Xanax in dogs are clumsiness and sleepiness. If your dog seems excessively sleepy or loses control of motor functions at all, let your veterinarian know. These side effects can often be avoided by reducing dosages.

Xanax may have a paradoxical effect in some dogs, and cause excitement or exacerbate aggressive behaviors. Long term treatment carries a risk of physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include sensitivity to light, vomiting and shaking. Dogs are kept on Xanax for very short periods of time at the lowest possible dosage, to avoid physical dependency.

Xanax is not a substitute for training. Xanax and other behavioral modification drugs are used only as a last resort, in dogs who might otherwise need to be euthanized for bad behavior. The medicine should calm your dog enough to allow him to pay attention to his training sessions. In the case of phobias, Xanax can help your dog realize that the things he fears aren't really so terrible.