Thunderstorms….Is your pet afraid?

May 15, 2018 | Behavior, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Medications, Pet

Why You Shouldn’t Use Acepromazine (“Ace”) For Fearful Pets

By: Dr. Kelly Stern

Many pets are fearful and anxious when it comes to things like vet visits, nail trims, car rides, thunderstorms and fireworks. They show this by exhibiting behavior such as: excessive panting, pacing, shaking, destructive behavior, hiding, being “clingy”, etc.  Unfortunately, many pets are still being given a medication called acepromazine (commonly called “Ace”) as a treatment to help them through these scary events, despite having newer and more appropriate medication choices.

Ace has been around since the 1950’s and has many uses including being a powerful and effective tranquilizer, but it does not have any anti-anxiety effect, and will not mitigate the fear and anxiety the pet feels. It physically limits their ability to move or show any outward signs of fear and anxiety because the drug functions primarily as a chemical restraint, and has no effect on the pet’s emotional behavior. While under the effect of Ace, the pet may appear calm and relaxed, but will still have very strong fear, anxiety or avoidance responses.

Furthermore, this medication is a dissociative agent and prevents pets from logically understanding their environment, which typically increases the level of fear in the animal. Pets who have been given Ace for fearful/anxious situations tend to worsen each time due to a cycle of chemical and physical restraint with no mitigation of fear or anxiety, which leads to a worsening negative association with the entire experience and causes them to be more fearful and more reactive.

Ace also increases sensitivity to noise, so it commonly makes pets that are fearful of thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud noises worse.
Ace used to sedate fearful, anxious dogs is no longer appropriate. Fortunately, we now know more about helping our pets with fear and anxiety and we have far better medication alternatives that will affect the central nervous system and actually reduce anxiety, stress and fear.

To best help your pet, speak with your veterinarian as early as possible to allow for time to do a “test dose” of any recommend medication.  Our doctors at Arnold Pet Station can help determine the best options for your pet. If you would like more recommendations or have specific questions please contact our team at Arnold Pet Station at 410-544-1130 or to schedule a visit.

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