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Diazepam is used as a sedative and tranquilizer to relieve anxiety and relax muscles. Diazepam can also help improve many behavioral issues, including spraying, excessive grooming, and fear of excessive noise. It is sometimes used as an anticonvulsant to reduce the risk of seizures.

While diazepam is safe for dogs, it should never be administered without a prescription from your veterinarian. Most complications with diazepam for dogs arise from overdosing, allergic reactions, and complications caused by preexisting conditions. Read on to find out more about dosages, conditions, and efficacy.

Dosage

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine, so you should carefully follow your veterinarian's instructions when administering the drug. Diazepam is often used as an “off label” drug, meaning the directions given by your veterinarian will differ from those listed on the bottle. 

Different amounts of diazepam are prescribed to dogs depending on the needs and size of the animal. Be sure to adminster diazepam exactly according to your veterinarian’s instructions.

Diazepam can be given to your dog in tablet or liquid form. Occasionally, a veterinarian will administer diazepam rectally or intravenously. If your dog is prone to seizures, your veterinarian may supply you with a rectal gel that will act as an anticonvulsant. 

You don't have to give your dog diazepam with food; however, if your dog gets sick from the tablet, try putting the liquid form in your dog's food. Be careful when measuring liquid diazepam, as it is harder to judge the correct amount.

Efficacy

You should always consult your vet on how long your dog should be taking diazepam. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive, so speak to your veterinarian who may advise you slowly wean your dog off of diazepam if they've been taking it for a significant amount of time. 

Dogs can quickly develop a tolerance to diazepam, especially when used as an anticonvulsant. As a result, diazepam is not often a long-term treatment for most ailments. You should monitor your dog for the first two hours after they've taken diazepam, as it should take effect relatively fast. Diazepam will usually wear off within 24 hours.

Side effects

Diazepam can cause a range of mild side effects, including:

  • Lack of coordination

  • Agitation

  • Aggression

  • Weakness

  • Lethargy

  • Drooling

  • Increased appetite

  • Excitement

While these are relatively common side effects, you should immediately contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following, more severe side effects:

  • Lack of appetite

  • Frequent vomiting

  • Yellowing of the eyes, gums, or skin.

Considerations

Drug interactions

As a benzodiazepine, diazepam should only be used in conjunction with medications deemed safe by your veterinarian. The effects of certain drugs may be nullified or exacerbated by the use of diazepam. Use the following medications cautiously:

  • Heart medications (digoxin, propranolol, amiodarone)

  • Antidepressants (fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, lithium)

  • Cancer treatment medications (ifosfamide)

  • Sleep aids (melatonin)

  • Anit-seizure medications (valproic acid)

  • Hepatic enzyme inducers (phenytoin)

  • Antifungal medications (ketoconazole)

  • Glaucoma medications

  • Antacids

  • Central nervous system depressant agents

  • Neuromuscular blockers

  • Blood pressure medications

Additionally, if you're currently giving your dog any supplements or vitamins, you should let your vet know, as this may affect your dog's treatment.

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Dogs can be allergic to benzodiazepines. If you notice your dog is having an allergic reaction to diazepam, contact your vet immediately. 

Do not give diazepam to dogs diagnosed with acute liver disease. Diazepam should be used tentatively on dogs that suffer from the following: kidney disease, respiratory problems, glaucoma, and myasthenia gravis. You should also avoid giving obese, working, pregnant, and elderly dogs diazepam.

Frequently asked questions

Can I give my dog diazepam for humans?

Diazepam comes in different dosages for humans and dogs, which could cause your dog to overdose. You should never give your dog any medication that isn't prescribed by your veterinarian.

What should I do if I forget to give my dog their medicine?

If you forget to give your dog a dose of diazepam, you should give it to them as soon as possible. You should then wait for the amount of time recommended by your veterinarian before giving them their next dosage, and never double up on medication. 

If I'm using diazepam to treat my dog's anxiety, when should I administer the drug?

If you notice your dog is becoming worked up, or you're aware of an upcoming event that will trigger their anxiety, give them the dosage recommended by your veterinarian. Ideally, you should try to give your dog diazepam an hour in advance so it can take effect.

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Diazepam Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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