Can Dogs Take Ativan For Anxiety? Is It Safe?

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Ativan is primarily used for reducing feelings of anxiety and even agitation.

You aren’t the only one wondering if this drug can be given to a high-strung pet dog.

Can I Give My Dog Ativan?
Good news! This particular medication, under the right circumstances, can be a beneficial treatment.

Lorazepam — the generic name — is not FDA-approved for animals, though vets do sometimes prescribe it.

But here’s the deal:

While your dog could possibly benefit from Ativan, administering a leftover supply would be irresponsible.

Ativan® Can Help an Anxious Dog

Your vet’s approval is a must. Providing this psychoactive benzodiazepine is not to be taken lightly.

It cannot be stressed enough:

Never give your dog with Ativan without professional guidance. And the same goes for similar meds such as Klonopin (Clonazepam).

Ativan For Seizures And Sleep

There are a couple of other uses for Ativan besides calming your canine.

Lorazepam can also be prescribed to dogs for controlling seizures (ie. Status epilepticus). In fact, most vets prefer it over Diazepam.

Rarely is Ativan prescribed to pets for sleep apnea, but it isn’t out of the question.

Rule of Thumb Dosing For Dogs

Your animal’s body weight is a primary factor for determining lorazepam dosage.

Never exceed .025mg per pound over a 8-12 hour period. For example, a 40 pound dog would receive an absolute maximum of 1mg of Ativan over that time-frame.

Consult with your vet before providing your dog with any amount!

Pro Tip: It may be necessary to break up pills. For this reason, Ativan’s 0.5mg tablets are preferred to the 1mg or 2mg forms as a more exact dose would be a bit easier to achieve.

Side Effects Linked To Ativan

As with other so-called “benzo drugs”, Xanax included, dogs can experience negative reactions.

Remember that Ativan has central nervous system (CNS) depressant properties.

Watch for the following:

  • Poor sleep
  • Drowsiness or deep sedation
  • Lethargy or general weakness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Jumpiness or excessive excitability (paradoxical reaction)

Thankfully side effects from lorazepam are not that common.

Some dogs do show signs of depression from taking Ativan. We should also tell you that, despite being among the safest benzodiazepines, it’s possible for liver damage to occur.

Finally, withdrawal symptoms are an entirely different concern which is further reason to involve a professional.

Separation Anxiety Alternatives

Does your buddy act out shortly after being left alone?

That is not a unique situation! Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety.

Veterinarians have long favored Prozac over lesser known drugs like Ativan when it comes to addressing this behavioral disorder. However, things are changing fast with promising new treatments becoming available!

In 2019 the FDA approved Clomicalm® for dogs with separation anxiety.

Another alternative to Ativan is an SSRI called Reconcile®. This antidepressant comes in flavored and chewable tablet form and is specifically designed for veterinary use.

Get Your Pet Dog Checked Out

Your dog should be properly diagnosed whether they need behavioral or medical help. And, at that point, your vet will discuss treatment options with you.

The truth is Ativan may or may not be appropriate.

We know that caring for an agitated or depressed furry friend can be overwhelming. Many dogs will destroy furniture or anything they can get their paws on!

Thankfully there are excellent trained specialists as well as plenty of effective medications.

The Bottom Line

Some vets use Ativan on dogs for anxiety, seizures and even sleep-related issues.

It is considered to be fairly safe. Nevertheless you should consult with your veterinarian.

Avoid taking a hit-or-miss approach with Lorazepam.

While Ativan is not one of the more dangerous medications, all pharmaceuticals have potential for harm and especially so when it comes to your dog.

What Do You Think? Have Your Say Below…

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7 thoughts on “Can Dogs Take Ativan For Anxiety? Is It Safe?”

  1. Stephanie says:

    How can help my 13 year old Maltese with Cushing’s Disease? He is nervous, and doesn’t like when I leave the house. This started about 6 months ago. He’s already on Prozac (10 mg) daily. He literally vibrates when in a stressful situation like grooming or the car. I can’t afford the treatment for Cushing’s and hope to, at least, try to reduce some of the anxiety.

  2. My 7 year old English Pointer has severe anxiety attacks during storms. Tonight I gave her 1mg of Ativan. Within 2 minutes she was calm and herself again. I read up on the drug before giving it to her as I was hesitant to use a strong medication. The natural remedies and pills we have given her in the past did not work for her at all.

    I’m very happy that she is calm but, at the same time, nervous about the potential negative effects. I would recommend this drug for dogs with severe anxiety, but make sure you do not give the pills too often. They clearly have a very powerful effect.

  3. I’m looking for some kind of sedative to give my dog before I groom him. I do the grooming myself because he’s such a hard pup to hold still. He has bitten other groomers and they won’t have him back again. I started learning to do it myself. He absolutely goes nuts when I’m trying to shave him. Can a small piece of Ativan do the trick?

    1. If your dog is biting people when they try to groom him. You should look into his past if he has one. Most pets that become aggressive during grooming have had bad experiences or have been hit or harmed in some way during grooming.

      Do not sedate your pet to groom it. It’s dangerous and you can cause liver damage. What kind of dog do you have? Does it need special grooming like a Poodle or just a bath and towel dry?

    2. Don’t give your dog your own Ativan. The dosage may not be correct. Go to your vet first and ask them!

  4. I have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety and excitability issues. He’s had 5 different owners and is only now going on 2 and a few months. I’m looking for a safe sedative to give him while we have visitors. We can not crate him at all. What is your advice?

    1. Have you tried Bach’s Rescue Remedy? It is sold in health food stores. They may tell you to put some in water, but the trick is to put 5-10 drops on the back of the dog’s neck and rub it in gently – do not wash your hand after!

      It will work on you as well by reducing your anxiety and your dog senses this. My Jack Russell Terrier was a basket case in the car until I tried this. I have recommended it to others and they have also had good results.

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