Diazepam (Valium) Use in Dogs and Cats

Diazepam, also known as Valium is a form of ant-covascular and muscle relaxing prescription with many hypnotic characteristics. Vets give its prescription to control seizures, bring back the loss of appetite in cats and dogs, and other disorders. During surgery, the prescription of valium is for sedating your pet before the procedure can start.

Overview of Diazepam

Diazepam is a sedative to relieve stress on the brain of dogs and cats. There is a lot of uncertainty on how valium works in dogs and cats, but the general thought is that it reduces the levels of serotonin and acetylcholine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the United States regulate valium. The restrictions may also apply in other countries. The regulation of Valium is because of its abuse potential, and thus you can obtain a prescription from a veterinarian. 

Diazepam is under the benzodiazepine classification. Also found in this class include clonazepam, midazolam, alprazolam, and clerozepate

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The prescription drug used in cats and animals is legally distributed as an extra-label drug

What are the Other Names of Diazepam?

  • The drug is officially registered for use in humans only
  • Other formulations include Valium (Roche) among other names
  • There is no known veterinarian formulation

How it Works

Diazepam works by promoting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The acid inhibits the effects of neurotransmitters responsible for excitement in the brain leading to a calming effect your pet.

How to Use Diazepam for Dogs and Cats

Vets will prescribe diazepam as a sedative for the treatment of convulsions, muscle relaxant, and to manage excitement. Diazepam is used in combination with other drugs to ease the pet in and out of anesthesia. Some animals, especially cats are given small doses of diazepam to increase their appetite and for the treatment of behavioral problems such as aggression or urine spraying.

  • An injectable prescription helps in the treatment of seizure disorders. In emergency cases, the drug administered through the nasal passage.
  • The Scotty cramp and related muscular cramps are treated using Valium
  • The irritable bowel syndrome
  • Post urinary blockage in cats
  • Appetite stimulation in cats
  • Panic disorders brought about by fireworks and thunderstorms in dogs
  • Muscle relaxant when pets fall for the snail bait poisoning or in extreme involuntary muscle contractions

Precautions When Using Diazepam

When the medicine prescribed by the veterinarian, diazepam may show some side effects in some animals.

Animals with known hypersensitivities or allergy should not use the drug

Diazepam may interact with other medications, therefore before combining it with another drug consult your vet to give professional advice on the expected interactions. Medicines that can interact with diazepam are antacids, cimetidine, omeprazole, rifampin, and erythromycin. Other antifungal drugs such as Iitraconazole, propranolol, narcotics, digoxin, and some antibiotics.

Diazepam may lead to sedation and disorientation in animals by showing signs of weakness and incoordination

Some animals using diazepam may suffer paradoxical excitement drug reaction

Cats may suffer acute liver problems. Examine your cats more carefully before using the drug to avoid long term or recurrent cases of liver problems. Cases of depression in cats, vomiting, loss of appetite, and cases of jaundice while on diazepam medication should be treated as a medical emergency.

All diazepam prescriptions for long-term use should be made available only after you have talked about its long-term effects with the veterinarian. Long-term therapy could lead to dependency or undesirable changes once the drug is discontinued.

Because of its high abuse potential in humans, all prescriptions should be closely monitored to avoid falling into the wrong hands.

Light deactivates diazepam, and it sticks to plastics. Dark glass vial at room temperature.

Dogs and cats using valium may show positive urine glucose tests and may test positive to antifreeze testing.

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Dosage Information for Dogs and Cats

Medication should not be given without the consultation from a veterinarian

A typical dog’s dosage is 0.25 to 1mg per pound and for cats is 0.25 to 0.5mg per pound. The dosage is given through drips (intravenous) or as needed every six hours.

Diazepam can be administered through the rectum as a liquid solution or the nasal cavity for a dog that is convulsing. This dosage range from 0.5 to 1mg per pound. The diazepam solution is used to carry out the injection. It is normal for a vet to give you a dose of diazepam solution to use when the dog gets uncontrollable seizures.

Cats get a dose of diazepam within the ranges of 1 to 4mg orally every 12 to 24 hours.

The duration of using the drugs depends on the animal’s response to medication and if any side effects are slowing down the treatment. Follow the veterinarian instructions until you finish the prescription.

Administering Diazepam Pill at Home

Unlike dogs, cats are the most difficult pets to pill. A dog can have the pill mixed with its food, and it will ingest the tablet as it feeds. Cats cannot be tricked into teasing it with a pill held onto your hand to eat, the available option is to use your fingers, or a pill gun to ensure the cat also gets its dose.

If you own a cooperative cat, hold her up with your arms, open the mouth using your fingers and make sure you insert the pill at the back of its throat then hold on to the mouth by stroking her throat until she swallows.  Watch out if the pill was indeed taken to avoid disappointment.

For a non-cooperative cat, wrap it in a small towel to secure her firmly in your arms and try to administer the pill. If it is an aggressive cat, use a pill gun to dispense the pill quickly. You can obtain a pill gun from the local veterinary clinic.

Read another article on: Seizure Medications for Cats and Dogs

Something to Think About

Watch your dog or cat when administering diazepam. Ensure that they are in a safe area where they cannot fall off due to lack of coordination after the drug takes effect. The best person to advise you on the possible effects of diazepam on your cat is the vet, and you can ask for possible alternative medications if the possible side effects scare you.

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