Q:

Can dogs take Ativan?

A:

Dogs can take Ativan. This medication is in a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines that are very fast-acting. They are especially effective for dogs that experience sudden or severe panic or fear.

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While some dogs are chronically anxious or agitated, others experience fear in specific situations. These situations are in response to loud noises such as those produced during thunderstorms or fireworks. Chronically anxious dogs respond well to increases in exercise and behavior modification. However, the dog that becomes suddenly fearful or anxious needs quick relief. Ativan is recommended for the short-term, occasional use of panic and fear, and should not be used to manage chronic behavior problems. It acts quickly, unlike other medications that may take weeks to build up blood levels to effectively work.

Although Ativan and other benzodiazepines work well to diminish anxious behaviors, they produce side effects. These include drowsiness, confusion, urinary retention, panting and dizziness. Unsteady gait, dry eyes, dry mouth, itching and rash are also side effects of Ativan. Because Ativan has the potential to impair cognition and memory, it is not recommended for use on a long-term basis. This is especially relevant to dogs in the middle of training programs. Ativan can impair a dog's memory and cause it to forget the essentials learned during training. Dogs should never be given Ativan prescribed for humans. Only a veterinarian can prescribe the correct dosage of Ativan for dogs.

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