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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.
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.