How to Sedate a Dog?

How to Sedate a Dog

Here’s a breakdown of when dogs may need sedatives, the types of sedatives used, and how to administer them safely.

Why Dogs Might Need Sedatives

  • Anxiety and Fear: Events like vet visits, travel, thunderstorms, or fireworks can trigger severe anxiety.
  • Medical Procedures: Sedation can ease pain or discomfort during exams, grooming, or minor procedures.
  • Behavioral Issues: Some dogs with severe separation anxiety or aggression may need sedatives alongside training.

Types of Dog Sedatives

Your vet will choose the best sedative based on your dog’s needs and health:

  • Acepromazine: For mild anxiety and motion sickness prevention.
  • Butorphanol: For short-term pain relief and sedation.
  • Telazol: Useful for short procedures requiring mild to moderate pain relief.
  • Diazepam: Treats anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasms. May increase appetite.
  • Gabapentin: Sedative, pain relief, and anti-seizure medication.
  • Trazodone: Primarily for anxiety, can be used long-term.

How to Sedate a Dog

IMPORTANT: Always consult your veterinarian first. They will determine the right type of sedative, dosage, and provide instructions.

  • Prescription: Your vet must prescribe sedatives for safe and effective use.
  • Oral vs. Injectable: Some sedatives come in oral (pill or liquid) form while others are injectable. Your vet will decide which is best.
  • Dosage: Strictly follow your vet’s instructions on dosage and timing. Overdose can be harmful.
  • Home Administration: Your vet may teach you how to sedate your dog at home in specific circumstances.

Safety Considerations

  • Pre-Existing Conditions: Tell your vet about any health issues your dog has, as these can affect sedative choice.
  • Drug Interactions: Inform your vet of ALL medications your dog takes.
  • Breed Sensitivities: Certain breeds may be more sensitive to specific sedatives.
  • Monitoring: Observe your dog closely for side effects. Contact your vet if you have concerns.

Key Takeaways

  • Sedatives are a tool to manage severe anxiety, fear, or discomfort in dogs, not a cure-all.
  • Always work with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most appropriate course of treatment for your dog.
  • Never give your dog human medications or sedatives without veterinary guidance.
  • Responsible sedation aims to improve your dog’s well-being, not simply make them drowsy.

When Do Dogs Need Sedatives?

Different dogs behave differently in the same situation. For example, some dogs suffer anxiety when they visit a vet, while some dogs visiting a vet don’t have any effect.

Dogs can experience anxiety, fear, or nervousness because of different situations.

Everyday situations in which dogs feel anxious are when there is another pet at home, traveling, visiting the vet, around strangers, loud voices, abandonment, ignorance, fear of being alone at home, grooming, toenail trims, etc. are some of the common reasons why dogs can feel anxious.

So, dogs may need sedatives when they start feeling anxious frequently or for a more extended period.

Things to Check Before Giving Your Dog Any Sedative

Each dog is different and so are their requirements as well as treatment. Giving dogs sedatives is a grueling task, and it should be done after researching everything about it. What kind of sedative your dog needs depend on many conditions like:

  1. For how much time your dog is suffering from anxiety.
  2. Your dog’s age and medical history.
  3. Your dog is already taking any medication or not.

What are Different Sedatives Used for Dogs?

Depending on the dogs’ condition, different sedatives are given to them. Here is the standard list of sedatives that are given to dogs.

Dogs respond quicker to injectible sedatives in comparison to oral dog sedatives. And so, Injectible dog sedatives are preferred over oral dog sedatives.

However, there are many sedatives that can be given orally as well as through injection.


This drug is used as a part of anesthesia. Acepromazine can be given to dogs sometimes before they visit the vet, before traveling, or before a grooming session.

So that dogs don’t feel anxious during these events. Acepromazine is not preferable for aggressive dogs because this sedative is used just for relief from little anxiousness.

Side effects of Acepromazine: Low Blood Pressure


It is used to get relief from mild to moderate pain. Butorphanol is a short-acting sedative, and it will work in your pet only for like 24 hours. It can also be given in the form of an oral tablet (with or without food).

Side effects of Butorphanol: Ataxia, Anorexia, diarrhea (rarely).


Telazol is used in dogs for minor procedures of short duration, which require mild to moderate analgesia. Lacerations, abscess drainage, castrations, and other treatments needing mild – to – moderate analgesia are termed necessary surgery. Telazol, given orally, is used to induce anesthesia in dogs, which is then maintained using an inhalant anesthetic.

Side effects of Telazol: Respiratory Depression and excessive salivation


Besides acting as a sedative, Diazepam also acts as an anti-anxiety, muscle relaxant, or anticonvulsant medication for dogs. It can also be used to treat behavioral problems like aggression, grooming excessively, etc.

The side effect of Diazepam: Impaired coordination and lethargy.


Vet suggest Gabapentin as sedative. It also helps relieve anxiety, control pain, and prevent seizures in dogs.

It is an anticonvulsant and analgesic medicine that vets often use to sedate. It’s a human pharmaceutical used in veterinary care “off-label,” which means the FDA does not approve it for pets.

Side effects of Gabapentin: Sleepiness, staggering, incoordination, vomiting, diarrhea.


Trazodone is used in the treatment of anxiety disorders in dogs. It can be given alone or in combination with other medication, depending on your dog’s condition and on your dog’s vet’s advice.

Side effects of Trazodone: Lethargy, vomiting, drowsiness, increased appetite.

How to Sedate a Dog?

Sedatives can be given to a dog at home as well as at a hospital by the vet. Giving sedatives is a tough job, and it should be done with utmost care. So, if you have decided to give your dog a sedative at home, follow the given rules carefully.

Talk to Your Vet About a Prescription

Administering drugs in dogs requires a prescription from the vet because medicines which are used for dogs are pretty compelling.

  • Most commonly used sedative drugs are Acepromazine, Diazepam, and dexmedetomidine.
  • These sedative drugs block specific signals in dogs’ CNS (Central Nervous system(), making them calm and sedative.
  • Sileo is an FDA-approved gel that can be applied to the inside of a dog’s cheeks or gums to treat anxiety and phobias.

Treated with Acepromazine

It is used for aggressive animals to calm them. If your dog is suffering because of shifting to some other place, he will be given Acepromazine. This drug also prevents vomiting.

This drug is available in the form of tablets or a liquid that you can pour in between your dog’s gums and cheek.

  • The vet will likely prescribe a dose of 1-2 mg per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight. So follow your veterinarian’s specific dosing instructions for your dog.
  • It is not suggested to use an injectable form of this drug at home. The vet would use it if they needed to sedate your dog for an examination or procedure.
  • You can only use ACP prescribed by a vet after they perform a thorough assessment of your dog. ACP is not suitable for all dogs since it can lower blood pressure, so it is generally not given to older dogs who suffer from heart problems.
  • So, it is advised by the vet to test using ACP beforehand if you are planning on sedating your dog during travel to see how your dog reacts to this specific drug.

Treated with Gabapentin

Gabapentin helps dogs in calming and relieving pain. And so, it is used as a sedative and as an analgesic.

  • Your dog’s vet may prescribe this drug when your dog is suffering anxiety because of pain.
  • This drug also comes in tablets as we as in liquid form.
  • The typical dosage of Gabapentin given to dogs range is 10-20 mg per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight.
  • The complete medication takes around 2 hours to full effect, so plan accordingly.
  • Check with your dog’s vet for specific dosing instructions as well as for timing when to give these doses.

Treated with Benadryl

  • Benadryl is given to dogs who suffer from allergies. If your dog is already suffering from some medical condition or takes another sedative, Benadryl is not allowed. So check with your vet about your dog’s condition.
  • Generally, you can give 2 mg of Benadryl per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of your dog’s body weight. But also check with your vet before about the dose.
  • To keep your dog sedated, you can repeat the dose every 4-6 hours. But remember not to exceed a quantity of 4 mg of Benadryl per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight every 4-6 hours.

Treated with Trazodone

  • Trazodone is used for dogs who are suffering from long-term anxiety.
  • You can give this drug to your dog if he needs to be sedated regularly or before any travel, going to the vet, or by noisy events.
  • Trazodone is also available in the form of liquid as well as tablets.
  • Dose of Trazodone is typically 5 mg per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of body weight. Also, follow your dog’s vet’s advice regarding doses.
  • Trazodone drug needs to be administered 2 hours before sedation is required.

Treated with Benzodiazepines

  • Benzodiazepines are used for short-term use. This drug acts fast, but it does not last long.
  • This drug is a good option when your dog is needed to sedate quickly because on some occasions like vet appointments or traveling.
  • The typical dose of this drug is 1 mg per 1 kg (2.2 lb) of your dog’s body weight administered orally.
  • But before giving the drug to your dog, follow your vet’s specific dosing instructions.

In case of an emergency, when you’re needed to be sedated and your vet is not available, then the medication will be performed by you. So, how to sedate a dog is essential to know if you are a dog owner.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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