Valium is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms in humans. It is a controlled substance that you can’t get over the counter, and typically doctors prescribe it with great discretion. It’s become quite useful in veterinary medicine, too, treating a variety of ailments in dogs and cats.
Is Valium Safe for Dogs?
Valium is very safe for dogs when it’s given by a veterinarian and used properly in the treatment of specific ailments. In the veterinary clinic, it’s used to treat seizures, pain, and urethral obstructions. It’s most commonly used to stop seizures. It’s given intravenously or even rectally, depending on the state the dog is in. It’s quite effective in short term treatment of seizures, but phenobarbital should be used to treat epilepsy long term. If your dog is a newly diagnosed epileptic, your vet may give you Valium to be used for a very short period of time until the phenobarbital has reached therapeutic levels in your dog. After that, your dog will be carefully weaned from the Valium.
If your vet prescribes Valium to give at home, it’s usually because your dog is experiencing something like separation anxiety. If your dog is going to be on a daily regimen of Valium, your vet will have an intense discussion with you about any medications your dog is on or if there are better options. Some vets are very cautious with who they send this drug home with because of how often it’s abused. They may deny a prescription for your dog if they suspect there isn’t a necessity for it.
When Is Valium Unsafe for Dogs?
Valium is very unsafe if the dosage is wrong. Valium is very easy to overdose on, especially in dogs. If your vet has given you a Valium prescription, it’s critical to your dog’s life that you follow the dosage exactly and not give them any more than what’s been prescribed. You should never decide to give your dog Valium on your own! The dose is very important, but withdrawal from the drug is also dangerous.
Valium depresses the central nervous system, which is responsible for regulating things like heartrate, respiration, and even consciousness. Signs of an overdose include a decreased heartrate, difficulty breathing, and acting drunk. If the overdose is high enough or allowed to progress, your dog can slip into a coma, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll wake up.
When you have other people in your house who give your dog their Valium, you should always double check with each other before administering the pill. Even an extra dose can create an overdose. If you think your dog has had more than their prescribed dose, play it safe and call your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Valium is also unsafe in dogs with liver and kidney disease. The liver and kidneys are responsible for metabolizing medications, and if these organs are damaged, they can’t properly utilize and excrete the drug from the body.
Are There Any Side Effects to Valium in Dogs?
Side effects aren’t guaranteed, but you can expect some variation of side effects when your dog starts taking Valium. Some dogs become more excitable and hyper, requiring more exercise. They may also become destructive due to this excitability. While not common, some dogs may become aggressive. Watch your dog’s behavior closely, especially if you have children or small pets in the home.
Most behavioral changes occur if you suddenly stop giving your dog the Valium. Set an alarm so you don’t forget a dose, and try not to be late filling their prescription so you don’t run out.
A lot of dogs lose their appetite while on Valium, and if this is a long term problem, that means Valium probably isn’t a good fit for your dog.
What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety?
If you’re considering a medication to control your dog’s anxiety, it should be noted that your dog’s anxiety should be fairly advanced before you go towards medical treatment. Minor anxiety can often be quelled with consistent behavioral training and plenty of activity. A tired dog with a job is less likely to be anxious versus a bored and hyperactive dog. But if your dog has severe separation anxiety and they’re destroying kennels, walls, doors, and carpet, it might be time to combine that behavioral therapy with medication.
Valium is typically a last resort because it has such a potent effect on dogs. Acepromazine is a sedative that can be used in specific incidences of anxiety, during thunderstorms or when there are fireworks going off, for example. Benadryl is sometimes used to slightly sedate dogs, and some owners have found success with an anti-anxiety drug like ClomiCalm. Xanax is another option because it helps level out your dog’s brain. Talking to your vet about what will work best for your dog is important. Anxiety can make your dog’s life miserable, but the wrong medication can have the same effect.
Valium is not something you can just walk into a drugstore and get. There’s a reason for this, and it’s not just because of its high rate of abuse. It’s a very strong drug that can easily kill your dog if it’s given inappropriately. Proper dosage and the guidance of your vet will help keep your dog healthy and safe.