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There are a range of different uses for diazepam for dogs. The drug is most commonly known by the name of its human formulation, Valium®. It functions as a central nervous system depressant. The sale and use of diazepam is tightly controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is not approved for use in animals, but veterinarians often prescribe it for dogs as an off-label drug. Vets will prescribe diazepam to dogs with behavior issues, anxiety problems, and seizures. It can be used for sedation purposes as well and is often used as a muscle relaxant.
Diazepam for dogs can be used on its own for sedation, or it can be combined with other drugs. Veterinary surgeons will often use it with other drugs both before and after anesthesia to help the dog move in and out of consciousness more comfortably. It can be administered prior to surgery in dogs that have heart problems, because diazepam is less likely than other drugs to cause an elevated heart rate. The drug often allows the dog’s muscles to relax more fully prior to an operation and is administered through an IV solution for surgical purposes, usually in combination with ketamine.
Veterinarians sometimes prescribe diazepam to dogs that struggle with anxiety or behavior problems. It is often used for dogs that have separation anxiety when their owners leave the home. Diazepam can also calm a dog that is fearful of loud noises. The medication can be administered in pill form or in an oral solution for these purposes.
Another one of the behavioral uses of diazepam for dogs is the treatment of aggression. It can help to calm the dog in the presence of other animals. Veterinarians note that diazepam can actually have a counter-effect in some aggressive dogs, however. Dogs sometimes become more aggressive as a side effect. Vets say that any use of diazepam for behavioral treatment should be coupled with a behavior modification program for the best results.
One of the most common uses of diazepam for dogs is the treatment of seizures. It can be used for dogs that suffer from clusters of seizures. It is not considered an effective long-term treatment, however, because it becomes less efficient in dogs over time. Vets will often use it in an emergency situation if a dog suffers a seizure due to poisoning. Maltese and West Highland white terriers are prone to suffering from little white shakers syndrome, a condition similar to seizures. Diazepam has shown to be very effective in treating this rare condition.