Even if you think you don't know what the term Benzodiazepine is - we can't blame you, it's a pretty long, complicated medical term - the odds are, you probably do. Benzodiazepines, known as benzos, are drugs that are prescribed to people to help them deal with a myriad of anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, depression, and other mental illnesses. They're even commonly prescribed to people with addiction disorders, too.
Being a dog owner, you know that your pup can face issues like anxiety and stress to severe degrees - think about how your pup reacts to things he or she is scared of, like fireworks or thunderstorms. Is it possible that your dog could take benzos to calm his or her nerves, too? The answer: sort of, yes.
Benzos can be prescribed by dog-tors to pups who suffer from fears, phobias, and insane stress levels. But benzos, like other medicines, can be incredibly dangerous if your pup takes too many of them. In fact, your dog can even get benzodiazepine poisoning if you're not careful with his or her dosage.
So, under what circumstances should you talk with your vet about feeding your dog prescribed benzos? What signs should you look out for to determine whether or not your dog's dosage is incorrect? How can you tell if your dog has benzodiazepine poisoning?
Read on to find out!
Signs Your Dog Has Benzo Poisoning
When it comes to giving benzos to your dog, it can be a very tricky business. Often, dog-tors will prescribe benzos to pups who have serious behavioral issues and face severe stress and anxiety disorders, but maintaining the right dosage is imperative. If not, your dog could get benzo poisoning.
This can happen if dogs get into human benzo medications, if they eat too much on their own, or if you accidentally give your pup a higher dosage than they need. It's important to understand what signs your dog will exhibit if he or she is suffering from benzo poisoning.
First of all, your dog's benzos will be absorbed rapidly and completely, so the signs will start early. Your dog will feel weak and lethargic, and their breathing will likely slow to dangerous levels. You can expect that your dog will likely vomit, be confused and disoriented, and face serious issues like a severe drop in body temperature and blood pressure. Your pup's muscles will also relax, making him or her uncoordinated and very lethargic.
Historic Causes for Benzo Treatment in Pups
People will often treat their pups with benzos (after being prescribed by a vet) for things that give their doggos extreme anxiety. For example, if your dog has an incredible fear of thunderstorms - we're talking incontinence, yelping, hiding, and running away - a vet-prescribed benzo might be the solution to fixing your doggo's fear.
People will also give their dogs benzos when they know their dogs are going to panic. Think about the last 4th of July you had with your family and dog: did your pup freak out because of the fireworks?
Sometimes, prescribed benzo can be given to pooches as needed for special occasions to keep them from panicking and working themselves up. Dogs who have extreme, irregular anxiety can also benefit from these drugs.
The Science of Benzo's Affect in Dogs
Benzodiazepine, or "benzos", are prescribed medications that are absorbed by the stomach and small intestine, metabolized by the liver, and saturated throughout your dog's body. These drugs affect your dog's brain by controlling emotional reactions, keeping a handle on muscle tone and coordination, and keeping a firm grip on consciousness.
Benzos, to put it simply, enhance the neurotransmitter known as GABA, gamma amino butyric acid, the chemical that enables your brain to think, transmit impulses, and much more. GABA helps to slow or calm things down in your dog's brain, so a healthy dose of benzo to enhance the GABA function can aid your dog in their stress and anxiety control.
Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Your Benzos
As we stated above, it's perfectly possible that your dog could need a prescription from a vet for canine benzos for a myriad of reasons - stress, anxiety, fear, and more. You also probably have a better idea of how benzos work, affect your dog's brain, and how they can affect your dog's system as well.
That being said, it's important that you keep your pooch away from your benzos, as well as away from his or her benzos when you're not administering their medication. Too much of their own, prescribed medication, as well as any of your benzo medication, could severely impact your dog's health. So, how do you train your dog to stay away from benzos?
First, it's important that you're keeping the benzos away from your pup. Put them up high, in a locked compartment, or somewhere your dog can't reach to avoid any accidental ingestion. Next, it's important that your dog understands basic commands like "no", "leave it", and "stay." These commands could save your pups life!
Then, make sure your dog understands that he or she is not allowed in the place where the benzos are. Keep them somewhere that you'd like to train your dog to stay away from, anway. Just as people train their dogs to stay away from furniture and kitchens, you can train your dog to stay away from the medicine cabinet where you keep the benzos.
By a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus
Published: 04/12/2018, edited: 04/06/2020