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What is Benzodiazepines Poisoning?

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for people with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and for other mental illnesses. Many people with addiction disorders may also take this type of medication. These types of drugs are quite effective in treating a variety of mental illnesses by enhancing the effects of GABA receptors (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the nervous system to produce a calming effect. Benzodiazepines relieve anxiety, help with sleep disorders, and help with muscle relaxation.

In some cases, benzodiazepines may also be prescribed for dog’s that have serious behavior issues. Benzodiazepines may be given to dogs that have fears and phobias from things such as fireworks, thunderstorms, or other loud noises. These medications are quick to take effect so they are usually given on an as-needed basis.

Benzodiazepines poisoning in dogs can transpire when dogs ingest medications that are in the category of benzodiazepines. This can occur by ingesting human medication or by overdosing on their own medications, if they are prescribed these medications for anxiety.

Benzodiazepines Poisoning Average Cost

From 54 quotes ranging from $150 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Benzodiazepines Poisoning in Dogs

Benzodiazepines, when taken, absorb completely and rapidly. Dogs that consume these medications may show symptoms very quickly. The onset of symptoms and the severity of symptoms are dependent upon the quantity consumed. Symptoms can include:

  • Weakness
  • Very slow breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of coordination
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Decrease in blood pressure 
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Tachycardia
  • Arrhythmia

Types

There are several different types of benzodiazepines that can be poisonous if consumed by dogs. Other types of this class of medication include:

  • Xanax, or alprazolam
  • Klonopin, or clonazepam
  • Valium, or diazepam
  • Ativan, or lorazepam
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Causes of Benzodiazepines Poisoning in Dogs

When dogs either overdose on their normal dosage of benzodiazepines or consume benzodiazepines for humans, toxicity can occur. It is very important to only give the dog the prescribed amount into keep all medications out of contact with the pet. Benzodiazepines can cause clinical signs of poisoning by:

  • Reacting and depressing  the central nervous system
  • Causing a rapid rise in serum concentrations
  • By binding the benzodiazepine receptor to the GABA receptors within the central nervous system
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Diagnosis of Benzodiazepines Poisoning in Dogs

The veterinarian will immediately begin to look at his clinical signs and asking questions pertaining to the quantity ingested in the amount of time that has passed since he consumed the benzodiazepines. The veterinarian will perform blood testing, urinalysis, kidney and liver testing, and may perform an electrocardiogram on the heart and an electroencephalogram. An electroencephalogram can check for brain activity due to central nervous system depression. The veterinarian will test the blood serum amounts due to the fact that an overdose of benzodiazepines can cause a rise in serum concentrations.

The tests the veterinarian performs, along with his clinical signs and your suspicion or witnessing of the dog ingesting the benzodiazepine, will lead them to a diagnosis of toxicity.

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Treatment of Benzodiazepines Poisoning in Dogs

Once your dog has been diagnosed with benzodiazepine toxicity, the veterinarian will begin to treat him and monitor his system very closely. Treatment methods include:

Emesis

The veterinarian will perform emesis on the dog only if the act of consuming the drugs were very recent and if he is showing no symptoms.

Gastric Lavage

Gastric lavage is the process of inserting a tube into the esophagus and then into the stomach. This tube is used, with tepid water, to flush out the contents of the stomach. This method of treatment is typically chosen if the dog has ingested a large quantity of pills. Following gastric lavage, activated charcoal is given to further absorb any of the toxins.

Fluid Therapy

Fluid therapy will be given to help support the dog’s blood pressure. Along with this, the dog should be kept calm and warm and closely monitored. Flumazenil can be given consistently and slowly to help with any depression of the respiratory system.

Medications

With benzodiazepine poisoning, the function of the respiratory system and the central nervous system may decrease. The veterinarian will give medications to stabilize respiratory function and control the highly stimulated central nervous system.

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Recovery of Benzodiazepines Poisoning in Dogs

Once your dog has been treated for benzodiazepines poisoning, the outlook for his recovery and prognosis are good. This depends on whether he positively responds to treatment. A severe evidence of benzodiazepines poisoning can be fatal; however, if your loved one was taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible and treated, he has a good chance of recovery.

Once your dog is home from the clinic, it is important to contact the veterinarian with any questions or concerns you may have in regards to any new symptoms or behavioral changes. Your physician will also give you specific instructions on how to care for your dog at home and will communicate with you what to watch for in terms of his recovery. The veterinarian will want to see him for follow-up visits and will check on his progress.

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Benzodiazepines Poisoning Average Cost

From 54 quotes ranging from $150 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400

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Benzodiazepines Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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West Highland White Terrier

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog may have ingested 1mg of human klonopin. Showing no symptoms, what should I do?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, I do not have access to to toxicity information on that medication for dogs. It would be best to contact a pet poison hotline, as they have extensive databases on human medications for dogs. They will be able to let you know, based on your dog's weight and the milligrams of medication, whether it is a problem. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Mix

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Our 50 pound mix breed ate 2mg's of ativan. Should we be worried

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, This medication can be given to dogs. It is not a common medication for them to take but is okay for them to have so I do not worry about toxicity. It can cause your dog to be sedated for a few hours. If she is acting this way, your local vet or emergency clinic should have a reversal medication that they can give to help.

Aug. 1, 2020

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Sunny

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black mouth cur

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7 Months

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tired

7 month old black mouth curr, 30 pounds, just ate my 0.5 clonazepam. It's been an hour and she is relaxed but not showing any signs of poison. She ate breakfast and seems okay, just tired.

Aug. 17, 2018

Sunny's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Clonazepam can be safely given to dogs at an appropriate dosage, and that amount of drug is well within a safe range for Sunny. She may be a little sedated but should not show any signs of toxicity. If you notice that she is doing anything unexpected, it would be a good idea to have her seen regardless, but she should be fine.

Aug. 17, 2018

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Chase

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Australian Shepherd

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

I'm not sure if my dog ate some clonazepam or not I dropped the bottle and they went everywhere now I can't find 5 of them but he seems fine what signs do I look for ?

Dec. 10, 2017

Chase's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Clonazepam is used in veterinary medicine at doses of 0.05-0.25mg/lb; consumption may cause drooling, excitement and disorientation; check the dosage of each tablet and see if it falls within the therapeutic range above, if the dosage works out above 0.25mg/lb you should consult with your Veterinarian or call the Pet Poison Helpline for more information. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com

Dec. 10, 2017

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Rocco

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Chihuahua/terrier

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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7 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fast Heartbeat
Painting Drinking Lots Of Water

My 13 year chihuahua terrier mix ate a 0.5 lorazapam when dropped on floor. I had read it wouldn't hurt him. He is about 18 lbs. I went out for a couple of hours. I came home he was super hyper and bad gas. He was panting and fast heart rate. It was an unusually warm day. He's been drinking water and eating grass. I also gave him another mean in hopes of metabolizing. What can I do?

July 26, 2017

Rocco's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

A one time dose of 0.5mg of lorazepam wouldn’t cause harm to a dog; within a day a dog Rocco’s size can safely have 1.5mg of lorazepam. I wouldn’t do anything except watch him at this point and wait, there really isn’t much to do at this point. If you remain concerned, or Rocco starts to have symptoms of poisoning as described on this page visit your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Zella

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Terrier mix

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Just A Little Sleepy.

My dog is a 16 pound terrier mix that got a 2mg lorazipam that dropped on the floor. No symptoms after half a hour. What should I do? The post above says a 1.5mg dose is ok for a 18lb dog. Do I have to take the dog to the vet?

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Liam

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King Charles Spaniel

dog-age-icon

18 Months

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting
Panting
Weak
Excessive Saliva

My vet prescribed my dog clonazepam 2mg 3 tablets every 8 hours (thats 6 mg a dose) (18 mg daily) My dog was drooling vomiting weak couldn't even keep water down. He had diarrhea that was black. I took him to the vet and blood work showed his pancreas was inflamed. They hospitalized him for 2 day IV. Then told me veterinary special food the rest of his life for gastro low fat. I asked the doctor about these pills and said I think this is too high of dosage and Im not giving him this dosage. She told me me that is what she prescribed and that is what he needed to take. He has EFS (Episode falling Down Syndrome) King Charles Caviler. She told me to continue his dose. At bedtime he had 1 2 mg tablet. He woke up drooling whole face wet with drool down to his neck. I started researching this pill is when I came across this page. I sat up with him all night he was in pain vomited a little water. I kept food from him for 24 hrs. Last night he had 1/3 can wet gastro food NO clonazepam. He slept all night no drooling. Why would a vet prescribe such a high dose. Dont they check for toxicity. WHen I walked in the vet door the receptionist told me to pick him up because they thought he had something else cause he was drooling so much. I feel my vet was carelessness or negligence with proscribing this medication. She has only been a vet not even 3 years. It cost me almost $1000 for a vet mistake and it almost cost my pet his life for that mistake. He has been very sick...

Benzodiazepines Poisoning Average Cost

From 54 quotes ranging from $150 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400

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