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Oxazepam (Serax®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Oxazepam is a sedative that works by depressing the brain. Exactly how oxazepam works is uncertain but it is thought to reduce serotonin levels and reduce acetylcholine levels.
  • Oxazepam is a controlled substance and can only be prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Oxazepam is classified as a benzodiazepine class drug. Related drugs include midazolam, clonazepam, diazepam and alprazolam.
  • Oxazepam is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Serax® (Wyeth-Ayerst) and other generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Oxazepam

  • In animals, oxazepam is given as an appetite stimulant. It has also been used to reduce anxiety.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, oxazepam can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Oxazepam should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Oxazepam can cause sedation and disorientation in animals so they may become uncoordinated and weak.
  • Oxazepam may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with oxazepam. Such drugs include cimetidine, propranolol, narcotics, barbiturates, digoxin and certain antibiotics.
  • In some animals, however, oxazepam causes the paradoxical drug reaction of excitement.
  • Oxazepam should not be administered to animals long-term without discussing the potential for side effects with your veterinarian. Long-term treatment also can lead to dependence that could bring undesirable behavior changes once the drug is discontinued.
  • Oxazepam is a controlled drug because it has high abuse potential in people. This drug, if prescribed for animals, should be carefully monitored and kept in a secure location.

    How Oxazepam Is Supplied

  • Oxazepam tablets are available in 10 mg, 15 mg and 30 mg capsules and 15 mg tablets.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The typical dose administered to animals is 0.2 mg per pound (0.4 mg/kg) every 12 hours.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian.

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