Xanax (alprazolam) is a drug used both in human and veterinary medicine. But you should never just give your Xanax, or other drugs, to your pets. Here’s what I told a reader who asked about it:
Q: My dog is really afraid of going to the groomer. Would it be OK to give him just a little of one of my Xanax tablets to see if it will help take the edge off?
A: Dogs and humans share many of the same medications, including Xanax, but sharing your own prescription with your dog is highly risky. The doses are not the same, and giving your dog even a fraction of a pill can have serious consequences for several reasons.
First, you have no way of knowing if your dog has any health problems that could be worsened by the drug. For instance, it must be given cautiously in dogs with liver or kidney disease or glaucoma.
Second, Xanax can have what’s called a paradoxical effect in dogs. It may cause hyperactivity or even aggression instead of the intended relaxation.
Like any drug, it may not always work well with other medications your dog takes. It can increase the effects of some drugs, while other drugs may decrease the rate at which alprazolam (Xanax) is metabolized.
Finally, you have no way of knowing what a safe or appropriate amount might be. Just guessing is a dangerous game to play with your dog’s health. These are just some of the reasons that it’s necessary for your dog to have a veterinary exam before a drug is prescribed.
Even though many human drugs can help animals, it’s important to realize that humans, dogs and cats don’t necessarily metabolize drugs in the same way. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, nearly a quarter of the calls it receives are about pets ingesting human medications and suffering adverse reactions. The top 10 most common drugs that pets ingest are ibuprofen, tramadol, alprazolam, Adderall, zolpidem (Ambien), clonazepam, acetaminophen, naproxen, duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor).
Read more, including eight tips for happy puppy raising, in this week’s Pet Connection!