Alprazolam for dogs is considered safe when given under the strict supervision of a qualified veterinarian. Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine, or tranquilizer, and is commonly used as an anti-anxiety or anti-seizure medication in dogs. In addition, alprazolam can be quite effective in calming dogs' anxiety during thunderstorms and in a number of other stressful conditions that cause canine stress.
Also known as Xanax®, alprazolam works by altering certain activities in areas of the brain that help produce the wanted outcomes. In addition, alprozolam for dogs helps decrease symptoms of panic attacks that may be present not only during thunderstorms, but on the Fourth of July when fireworks are being set off, and for separation anxiety. Although dogs typically get used to their owners coming and going, certain dogs have a very difficult time during even short periods of separation.
When alprazolam for dogs is given, owners should watch for side effects like pronounced sedation, lethargy, and confusion. In addition, persistent thirst, coordination problems, and dry mouth can occur. It is possible that side effects may be more pronounced when the medication is taken with certain antibiotics, beta blockers, and antacid medications. If the veterinarian is not familiar with the dog, the owner needs to tell him which medications or dietary supplements the dog is currently receiving.
Occasionally, alprazolam is prescribed to treat painful muscle conditions in dogs, but other, less sedating medications are often tolerated better. These medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). In addition, when using this medication, veterinarians need to warn owners that the medication might have an opposite effect, causing excitement.
Just like in humans, alprazolam for dogs can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include shaking, vomiting, and extreme photophobia, or light sensitivity. To avoid dependency, dogs, like humans, should not take alprazolam for extended periods of time, and the medication should never be abruptly discontinued, but tapered off gradually.
In rare cases, giving alprazolam for dogs who have anxiety and other problems can lead to liver problems. If the veterinarian suspects liver problems, he may recommend a simple blood test to determine if liver enzymes are elevated. If they are, the dosage may be lowered, or the medication may be discontinued. Generally, however, this medication is safe and well tolerated, even in the smallest of dogs.
Alprazolam may also be given to dogs to increase appetite, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon, and to treat depression. The veterinarian may be able to identify symptoms of canine depression or refer the dog to an animal behaviorist who can further evaluate the dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.