Risks of sedating dogs

28-Jul-2016 10:43

Consider Thorazine (chlorpromazine): This drool-on-yourself, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest kind of tranquilizer was once ubiquitous in human psych wards. Problem is, not only do we have the case of dysphoria and Thorazine to consider, we also happen to know that acepromazine causes even more profound dysphoria in humans than “Vitamin T” does. You may abhor the comparison between humans and animals in this case.

Though this acepromazine-like drug is still used, it’s not exactly a kind drug when used in big, human-stopping doses. After all, humans and animals don’t react the same way to all kinds of drugs.

For this reason, one of my local behaviorists is especially opposed to its use during storm or fireworks season. But for me, the larger issue is this: With acepromazine, the potential for dysphoria (an unhappy feeling) is high.

Though we have no way of confirming this (except by inference, as in the case of heightened aggression in dogs who receive ace), we do know that similar tranquilizers in humans have fallen out of favor due to their dysphoric effects on people.

When I offered my answer, I received a comment urging me to be more clear about “ace” so that pet owners wouldn’t get a one-sided view of this popular drug.

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Pre-op, it’s used to lower the dose of anesthetic induction agents to follow, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce the potential for arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) and vomiting, and to confer mild relaxation prior to the procedure.Post-op, its synergistic effects with drugs like opiates mean that a small dose of acepromazine makes the pain relievers more effective in smaller doses. But I don’t tend to reach for acepromazine in the first two instances (for which sedation is the ultimate goal).