Overview of Clonazepam (Klonopin®) for Dogs and Cats
- Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin®, is used for the treatment of anxiety and panic-type disorders in dogs and cats. It can also be used to treat seizure disorders.
- Seizure disorders or convulsions are the physical manifestations of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Recurrent seizures are often classified as epilepsy (fits). While there are numerous causes of convulsions, treatments that control epileptic seizures are relatively limited. Commonly used anticonvulsant drugs include phenobarbital, diazepam (Valium®) and primidone.
- Clonazepam is an infrequently used anticonvulsant.
- Clonazepam belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Related drugs include midazolam, diazepam, clorazepate and alprazolam. Clonazepam and these other related drugs exert their anticonvulsant effects by attaching to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.
- Clonazepam is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian. It is also a controlled substance.
- Clonazepam is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but may be legally prescribed by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
Brand Names and Other Names of Clonazepam
- Clonazepam is registered for use in humans only.
- Human formulations: Klonopin® (Roche) and generic preparations
- Veterinary formulations: None
Uses of Clonazepam for Dogs and Cats
- Clonazepam is used to manage various types of seizures in human medicine and may be effective for this purpose in domestic animals, too.
- A further veterinary application is for the treatment of anxiety and panic-type disorders in dogs and cats. Specific uses include treatment of thunderstorm phobia and other phobias, separation anxiety, and other situational fears, such as car travel or veterinary office visits.
- Another application of clonazepam in dogs, and humans, is for the treatment of a type of REM sleep disorder known as REM-sleep behavior disorder (RBD).
- Like other benzodiazepines, clonazepam has muscle relaxant properties and may be used for this purpose.
- It is also used as an appetite stimulant and may alleviate the short-term effects of stress on irritable bowel syndrome.
- In cats, clonazepam may be useful for treatment of feline hyperesthesia syndrome.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, clonazepam may cause side effects in some animals.
- Clonazepam should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- It should also be avoided in patients with significant liver disease or glaucoma.
- Clonazepam should probably not be used in pregnant animals because it may increase the risk of birth defects.
- In some animals, clonazepam may cause paradoxical reactions, including hyperactivity and aggression. Increased salivation may occur in some patients and may be problematic, particularly in dog breeds already prone to hypersalivation.
- Long-term treatment with clonazepam may lead to physical dependence and thus undesirable behavioral changes if the drug is discontinued abruptly. For this reason the dose should be tapered off over several weeks at the conclusion of treatment.
- Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to the central nervous system depressant effect of benzodiazepines, even at low doses.
- Clonazepam may interact with other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with clonazepam. Such drugs include anti-anxiety agents, phenytoin, carbamazepine and phenobarbital.
How Clonazepam Is Supplied
- Clonazepam is available as 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg tablets.
Dosing Information of Clonazepam for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- The dose range for clonazepam has been reported as 0.05 to 0.25 mg per pound (0.1 to 0.5 mg/kg) orally every 8 hours. Your veterinarian will adjust the dosage depending on its effect on your pet, such as signs of excessive sedation, excitement or poor coordination.
- 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.
Neurology & Nervous System disorders