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Using Alprazolam - Generic Xanax for Dogs and Cats

How This Sedative/Anxiolytic Drug Cat Help Calm Your Anxious Pet

By Sam Bourne. September 30, 2013

indications for Alprazolam

Anxiety can be a crippling condition, and one that affects more than just people. Our pets are just as susceptible to life’s stressors, and in many cases, pharmaceutical treatment is necessary. Drugs like alprazolam can help. A benzodiazepine, alprazolam enhances the effects of natural chemicals in the brain, resulting in a calming like effect. Alprazolam is useful in cases where your pet is otherwise unable to control their anxiety, helping them reclaim their life.

Precautions

Due to the effects this drug has on the brain, along with our limitations in understanding how the brain actually works, certain vets advise against giving this drug to pets exhibiting signs of aggression, warning that the effect of alprazolam is just strong enough to rid these pets of the very anxiety that is holding back their aggressive outbursts.

Alprazolam should be given cautiously to pets with liver or kidney disease, glaucoma, pregnant, are elderly, or in a debilitated condition.

Taking alprazolam with antacids might slow the rate of absorption, and the two medications should be separated by at least two hours if being taken concurrently.

Drugs like cimetidine, erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, propranolol, or valproic acid might decrease the metabolism of alprazolam, and cause an increase in sedition.

Flumazenil might reverse the effects of alprazolam, making it useful in the event of an overdose.

The effects of digoxin might be increased if taking with alprazolam, and should be monitored.

In general, taking alprazolam with barbiturates or other CNS depressants might increase the sedative effects.

Hepatic enzyme inhibitors might alter the metabolism of other cytochrome P-450 metabolized drugs.

Dosage

Dogs - 0.01 - 0.1 mg/kg orally, taken as needed (NEVER more than 4 mg a day)
Cats - 0.125 - 0.25 mg/kg orally, taken every 12 hours

It is important to note that this is an ‘extra-label’ drug in pets, in that it has not been approved by the FDA for use in pets. However it can be prescribed legally by a vet as there is no veterinary alternative to this medication. For the best effects, behavior modification therapy should be done in conjunction with the treatment.

Side Effects

The most common side effect of alprazolam is sedation, along with the inability of your pet to benefit from the behavior modification. In some rare cases, and mostly in dogs, the sedative effects of the drug may actually become reversed, having an energizing effect of the dog. In cats, however, the side effects tend to be an increase in affection, strange behavior, irritability, and possibly even an increase in depression. If you think your pet might be experiencing any of these side effects, contact your vet immediately.

Brand/Generic equivalents

Xanax

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Alprazolam at a glance

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  • 1For dogs and cats
  • 2Benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medication
  • 3Taken orally
  • 4Helps reduce anxiety and stress