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Dr. Joey
Dr. Joey, Board Certified
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4723
Experience:  15 yrs in practice, specialist canine/feline medicine
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My dog has severe thunder phobia and has been taking alprazolam

Customer Question

My dog has severe thunder phobia and has been taking alprazolam (on max dose) but does not help. My vet wants to do alprazolam and ACE together rather than trying diazaphem bec. diazaphem is a controlled medicine and cannot prescribe alot of it . I have a friend whose dog has thunder phobia and is on diazaphem with great result. I'm reluctant to put my dog on ACE as she is 8 yrs old and has been on ACE for thunder phobia for a few years already...what is the best course of action for my dog.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Joey replied 2 years ago.
Hello I am Dr. Joey. Thanks for trusting me to help you and your pet today. I am a licensed veterinarian with over 15 years of experience. I look forward to working with you.
Great question and absolutely fine to say "no" to acepromazine. I also worry in my older patients using this medication for thunderstorm phobia. The down side to acepromazine is that it causes profound sedation in some dogs and in our older that sedation could last up to 24 or more hours. And it has no anti-anxiety effect. Zero. So, we would be relying on alprazolam (or diazepam) entirely for the anti anxiety. On the good side, it can sedate a dog, and if Soonie is one of our dogs that really hurts herself during storms (or other noise events) then this can be a good thing to have her not hurting herself. But if you just need anti anxiety then this is not the drug to turn to.
Diazepam? It's not going to be any better than alprazolam. They are in the same category of drugs. However, you can certainly speak with your vet about doing a trial with it in as a comparison, but I find if one does work, then the other probably won't. I will often prefer oxazepam over diazepam, if doing a trial.
If Soonie has awful phobia then perhaps ask your vet about trying trazodone. This drug is great on an as-needed basis for anti anxiety. Or, if there is a long thunder storm season where you live, then put her on long-term fluoxetine (Prozac) so it's always on board (takes 4 weeks to really be "on board" and then use alprazolam or trazodone on an as-needed crisis situation for bad storms or fireworks.
Other things I assume you are already doing or tried would include the Thunder shirt and perhaps a D.A.P. collar or diffuser. These are not cure-alls but they sure can help.
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