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What is acepromazine used for?

Acepromazine is a tranquilizer drug intended for dogs or cats.  With the appropriate dosage, this medication acts as a depressant, causing dopamine levels to drop. 

It is commonly used to sedate animals for grooming, surgery, or other veterinary care procedures. 

Because of its sedation and motion sickness suppression effects, it is also used for animals who might experience anxiety during travel. This anti-nausea benefit is also useful to prevent vomiting post-surgery.

Acepromazine can be administered intramuscularly, intravenously, or orally. The drug is metabolized by the liver and excreted in the urine. It is more effective when given to an animal that is not already afraid or excited.


Acepromazine Side Effects

There are several acepromazine side effects to be aware of. With acepromazine for dogs, there are breed considerations. 


Common Side Effects

  • Low blood pressure (in severe cases, it may cause cardiovascular collapse).
  • Slowed heart rate 
  • Decreased respiratory rate (slow breathing).
  • Hypotension
  • Sedation or unconsciousness
  • Lack of coordination or unsteadiness
  • Exposure of the “third eyelid.”
  • Pale gums
  • Biting or chewing
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Sensitivity to noises
  • Thermoregulation imbalance (causing the pet to become too hot or too cold).
  • Constipation
  • Discoloration of the urine (pink or brown).


Less Common or Rare Side Effects

  • Show of aggressive behavior:
    • Biting
    • Chewing
    • Nervousness
    • Personality change
  • Allergic reaction
  • Increase in seizures
  • Mild urinary incontinence (especially with spayed females)

Side effects unique to dogs are increased risk and sensitivity to the cardiovascular effects. 

As for cats, this medication may cause a decrease in tear production.

Seek immediate veterinary medical care if you notice signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing or swelling of the lips, tongue, or face Talk to your veterinarian about any side effect that seems unusual or bothersome to your pet.


Acepromazine Precautions

This medication should not be used on animals who:

  • Are dehydrated, anemic, in shock, or are in a poor state of health or nutrition.
  • Have circulation problems, liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, severe dehydration, tetanus, or shock.
  • Have tetanus or strychnine poisoning
  • Are pregnant or nursing
  • Have a history of epilepsy
  • Prone to seizures
  • Are aggressive or unpredictable dogs
  • Have been exposed to organophosphates, strychnine, or procaine
  • Have been exposed to high or low temperatures (as medication affects temperature regulation.
  • Are cats with a heart murmur or cats with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)
  • Have been recently exposed to organophosphate insecticides (including flea collars)
  • Are on other depressants
  • Have known allergic reactions to acepromazine or other phenothiazines.


This medication should be used with caution on animals who:

  • Are debilitated
  • Exhibit stress
  • Are young (because of thermoregulation issues). 
  • Are old or in a weakened state
  • Have clotting problems or low platelets


Acepromazine for dogs may not be suitable for the following dog breeds:

  • Boxers
  • Pugs
  • Pekingese
  • Boston terrier
  • Australian Shepherds 
  • Collies
  • Shetland Sheepdogs 
  • Collie-Sheepdog cross breeds
  • Greyhounds
  • Afghans
  • Salukis 
  • Whippets 
  • Salukis 
  • Wolfhounds 


How long does acepromazine last? When given too much of the drug, the animal can be expected to fall into a deep sleep that lasts for up to 12 hours. Once the animal wakes up, they should be back to normal.

Elderly animals are more vulnerable to prolonged or deep sedation from acepromazine. 

An overdose may result in depression or motor restlessness (when the animal is sensitive to the medication).


Acepromazine is administered to animals by tablet and also by intramuscular or intravenous injection. Tablets come in strengths of 5 mg, 10 mg, or 25 mg. 

The weight and age of the animal determine the appropriate acepromazine dosage for dogs and cats. The dosage amount decreases as the weight of the animal increases.

When given intravenously, doses should be administered slowly. Allow at least 15 minutes for the drug to take full effect.

Acepromazine for Dogs Dosage

Tablets are given by mouth 45 minutes to 1 hour before the procedure. In pill form, Acepromazine dog dose is 0.25-1 mg/lb of animal’s body weight by mouth. 

The acepromazine dog dose injection amount is determined by weight (0.25-0.5 mg/lb).

The total dose of acepromazine for dogs should not exceed 3 mg. The maximum dose should be lowered to 2 mg for giant breeds as these tend to be particularly sensitive to its effects. Lower doses are appropriate for brachycephalic breeds.

Acepromazine for Cats Dosage

Tablets are given by mouth 45 minutes to 1 hour before the procedure. In pill form, Acepromazine cat dose is 0.25-1 mg/lb of animal’s body weight by mouth. 

The amount injected is determined by the cat’s weight (0.01-0.05 mg/kg).


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