Overview of Acepromazine for Dogs and Cats
- Acepromazine, commonly referred to as “Ace”, is a tranquilizer commonly used in dogs and cats.
- Acepromazine is classified chemically as a phenothiazine neuroleptic, which means it modifies the chemicals in the brain to change an animal’s behavior.
- Acepromazine is related to the drugs chlorpromazine (Thorazine®), another tranquilizer, and to prochloperazine (Compazine®), a drug used to prevent vomiting.
- Acepromazine works by depressing the central nervous system. The exact mechanism of action of acepromazine is unknown. It is thought to block receptors of dopamine in the brain, a chemical used for cell-to-cell communication.
- Acepromazine is frequently used in combination with other sedatives and anesthetics to provide smoother sedation and decreased doses of other anesthetics.
- Importantly, acepromazine has no analgesic or pain-controlling properties.
- Acepromazine blocks the control of some blood vessels, leading to greater blood flow to some areas of the body (to the skin, for example).
- Acepromazine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
Brand Names and Other Names of Acepromazine
- This drug is registered for use in animals only.
- Human formulations: None
- Veterinary formulations: PromAce® (Fort Dodge) and Aceproject® (Vetus). Acepromazine is supplied by numerous drug companies with a variety of trade names and generic formulations.
Uses of Acepromazine for Dogs and Cats
- Acepromazine is most commonly used as a sedative to help dogs cope with fear and anxiety. Acepromazine is not an anti-anxiety drug.
- Acepromazine is effective in alleviating vomiting caused by car or motion sickness.
- Acepromazine often is used as a pre-surgical tranquilizer and may be combined with opiates (morphine-like drugs) to achieve profound sedation.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, acepromazine can cause side effects in some animals.
- Acepromazine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Acepromazine can lower blood pressure in animals by blocking nervous control of blood vessels. In some animals, this may increase heart rate. Therefore, acepromazine must be used with care in animals with heart disease.
- Drug Reaction to Acepromazine may lower the blood pressure and cause arrhythmias of the heart in the Boxer breed.It is not recommended its administration in this breed.
- Although acepromazine can cause sedation, a paradoxical reaction of excitement or even severe aggression can occur in some animals. For this reason, dogs under the influence of acepromazine should be handled gently and should not be left alone with young children.
- Acepromazine may initiate or worsen epileptic attacks or seizures in susceptible animals. Caution must be used if acepromazine is given to an animal with a seizure disorder, and the drug is best avoided.
- Acepromazine can lower body temperature so care must be taken to keep the pet warm.
- Acepromazine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with acepromazine. Such drugs include narcotics, barbiturates, propranolol, epinephrine, antacids and antidiarrheal medications.
- The most common side effect in animals is that they become more lethargic, quiet and relaxed. Many animals seem uncoordinated or unsteady. These are expected side effects and may last for several hours after a dose.
- After receiving acepromazine, it is quite common for the pet’s third eyelid to elevate. This is reversible and not a cause of concern.
How Acepromazine Is Supplied
- Acepromazine is available in 10 mg/ml injectable form.
- Acepromazine is also available in 5 mg, 10 mg and 25 mg tablets.
Dosing Information of Acepromazine for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- The usual oral dose of acepromazine is 0.5 to 1.5 mg per pound (1 to 3 mg/kg).
- The usual injectable dose is 0.01 to 0.1 mg per pound (0.02 to 0.2 mg/kg). Generally, the injectable dose should not exceed 3 mg total. Note that the injectable dose is considerably smaller than the oral dose. Never give the same dose by injection that one would give orally.
- If acepromazine is to be given as a sedative for car rides, storms or fireworks, a test dose prior to the actual event will help determine if the dose prescribed is effective.
- When combined with other sedatives, such as a morphine-like drug, the dosage is reduced.
- 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.