Maybe you have never heard of the word “Acepromazine,” but it is an animal tranquilizer that has been around for decades. Acepromazine (Ace) is very commonly used to prepare dogs for surgery. It is also prescribed to calm anxious or agitated dogs and to suppress nausea.
Considered a “dissociative anesthetic,” Ace reportedly blocks receptors in the central nervous system, scrambling a dog’s perceptions. When the brain cannot process messages normally, it results in the appearance of sedation and relaxation. While we might want a little wonder drug to calm our dogs for a long trip or in the midst of a thunderstorm, appearances are deceiving and the side effects for Boxers are potentially
Ace is Not Recommended for Fearful or Anxious Dogs
While Ace will sedate your dog, it will not relieve his fear or anxiety. Take a moment to imagine what that would feel like in your own body. What if you were scared of something enough to want to run away, but you couldn’t run. You couldn’t react. Your fear would naturally intensify. In fact, dogs can learn to be more fearful and more reactive in stressful situations because of the associations made with their scrambled perceptions experienced under the drug.
Consider the Side Effects
Think of the brain like a control center and you begin to understand the long list of potential side effects of Acepromazine. As well as causing sedation, the drug has an impact on the controls for blood pressure, breathing, and body temperature, with potentially serious consequences for dogs with underlying health problems.
Increased seizures in epileptics
Exposure of your pet’s “third eyelid”
Low blood pressure
Change in respiratory rate
Boxer Owners: Just Say No to Ace
It has been well documented that Boxers have a particular sensitivity to Ace that can result in collapse and death. It is never safe. Just say no! In 1997, there was a veterinary warning advising against its use in Boxers. Here is what the American Boxer Club explained:
“In the Boxer, it tends to cause a problem called first degree heart block, a potentially serious arrhythmia of the heart. It also causes a profound hypotension (severe lowering of the blood pressure) in many Boxers that receive the drug. Recently, on the Veterinary Information Network, a computer network for practicing veterinarians, an announcement was placed in the cardiology section entitled “Acepromazine and Boxers.” This described several adverse reactions to the drug in a very short time span at a veterinary teaching hospital. All the adverse reactions were in Boxers. The reactions included collapse, respiratory arrest, and profound bradycardia (slow heart rate, less than 60 beats per minute). The announcement suggested that Acepromazine should not be used in dogs of the Boxer breed because of a breed-related sensitivity to the drug.”
Talk to Your Veterinarian Before Surgery
Because Ace is used so commonly, check with your veterinarian on their pre-surgical protocols before your Boxer goes in for any medical procedure. Not all veterinarians may know about the specific sensitivity Boxer’s have to Ace. Boxer World offers some need to know information and tips to help you speak with your vet.
Alternatives for Fearful Reactive Dogs
There are alternative therapies for fearful and reactive dogs. If your dog is being treated with Ace for his fears and phobias, please talk with your veterinarian about a more effective alternative.
Now let us offer a more personal experience. We invite you to take a moment to read Edie and Frankie’s story. Edie shares her story of drug-free travel with her dog Frankie on her website Will My Dog Hate Me? Edie discovered from Debbie Jacobs, an expert in dealing with fearful dogs and author of the book A Guide to Living With and Training a Fearful Dog, that using Acepromazine was not in her dog’s best interest and she discontinued using it.
Here are a couple of additional links that might be of interest…
• Through the Dog’s Ear offers techniques for the management and treatment of dogs with firework phobias.
• More information and training tips for dogs with a Fear of Riding in Cars
PLEASE NOTE: We are not vets, please consult with your pets care provider for any questions related to your dog.