Valium (diazepam) has many applications in dogs and is a commonly used medication. Diazepam is a regulated benzodiazepine drug that provides a calming effect on many body systems as it targets many different centers in the brain and central nervous system. No matter the reason a dog is given diazepam, it should only be given under the direct advisement of a licensed veterinarian.
Valium (Diazepam) Usages in Dogs
Valium (diazepam) is commonly used as an anxiolytic and muscle relaxant though it can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Diazepam is frequently used in the veterinary hospital as part of the pre-anesthetic protocol as well. In many cases, it is administered intravenously at the veterinary hospital or even rectally by the dog's owner at home before transport to an emergency or surgical facility.
These are some disorders in dogs related to musculature relaxation that diazepam can help treat:
- Certain toxicities that result in tremors, seizures, or other abnormal muscle contractions
- Muscle cramping disorders, such as "Scottie cramp," a metabolic disease of Scottish terriers.
Diazepam is known to be an appetite stimulant. However, the additional sedative effects of diazepam often negate any appetite stimulation. There may be other medications that are more appropriately used as an appetite stimulant.
Diazepam is also used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Examples include dogs that urinate inside the house as a result of stress in the environment and dogs that suffer from fear of thunderstorms, fireworks, or other over-stimulating situations.
Diazepam is also sometimes used to control seizures and epilepsy. It is used to control status epilepticus (a non-ending seizure) or cluster seizures which are two or more seizures that occur in a short time, not allowing the dog time to recover between seizures.
Considerations for Using Diazepam in Dogs
Unfortunately, diazepam can interact with many different medications, including:
- Antacids such as cimetidine
- Heart medications such as propranolol and digoxin
- Antifungal medications such as ketoconazole
If diazepam needs to be used in conjunction with these medications, the dosage may need to be altered. Always make your veterinarian aware of any other medications your dog is receiving.
Diazepam should not be used in pregnant or nursing females. The drug may adversely affect the unborn fetuses or the nursing puppies.
Side Effects of Diazepam
As diazepam affects most muscle groups in the body, systemic (whole-body) side effects of diazepam may include:
- Lethargy or depression
- Cardiovascular depression
- Respiratory depression
If your dog has been receiving diazepam, it is not a good idea to suddenly stop giving the medication. This may lead to withdrawal symptoms. If you have skipped a dose, do not give two doses at once.
Diazepam should be used cautiously in aggressive dogs, as it can sometimes cause a reverse reaction in which the animal instead becomes more excitable and difficult to manage.
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Cytochrome P450 Drug Interaction Table. Indiana University Department of Medicine Clinical Pharmacology.
Beyond the Front Line: Trazodone and Other Ancillary Treatments for Anxiety. NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine.