Don’t ‘Ace’ the Fear: Why acepromazine may make your dog’s fireworks fear worse

Tuesday, Jul 1st, 2014 | By Dr. Marty Becker

hiding chihuahuaIs what you’re doing to help your dog with his fireworks and thunderstorm fears making them worse?

Fear of fireworks and thunderstorms can ruin a pet’s summer, but sometimes our best efforts to help our pets feel better have the opposite effect. One of the worst offenders is the drug acepromazine, known as Ace.

Once widely prescribed for noise phobias, acepromazine not only doesn’t work, it might make things much worse. From an article by my friend and colleague , one of the leading veterinary behaviorists in the world, published in DVM360:

I know that the common “treatment” for storm and noise phobias and veterinary office visits is acepromazine. In truth, I wish this medication would be placed at the far back of a top shelf and used only exceptionally. Acepromazine is a dissociative anesthetic meaning that it scrambles perceptions. Ask yourself if a scrambling of perceptions will make an anxious or uncertain dog worse or better. It’s always worse, and we make many if not most dogs more sensitive to storms by using this drug. In part this is also because sensitivity to noise is heightened.

This is a recipe for disaster for these dogs, and, in fact, they learn to be more fearful and more reactive because of these associations. If what you need is sedation – acepromazine can be an acceptable adjuvant, but it makes most of my really fearful and really reactive patients worse, so all sorts of other drug combos can work better and do less harm than is done by the routine use of acepromazine.

You can read the complete article here, and hear more from her on this issue in the video below. Share it with your veterinarian if necessary.

 

One more “don’t”: Whatever you do, don’t lock your pet in a room or area they can escape from. Dogs and cats have been known to get out of homes and garages, destroy crates, and break leashes and collars to escape when terrified by storms and fireworks. The Fourth of July is a major day for shelters taking in lost pets — or, worse, pet owners never finding them.

Lonely Stray Dog ??on The Street

Enjoy the summer holiday, but keep your pets’ safety in mind, too! Here are some positive tips for things that really will help!