Xanax for Dogs: What You Need to Know

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Xanax for Dogs What You Need to Know

The main component of Xanax is alprazolam which, in turn, belongs to a class of medications that are known as benzodiazepines. Currently, Xanax is only produced for the consumption of humans but, on occasion, can be given to canines as well. Xanax is only available through prescription and can’t be bought as an over-the-counter medication.


The FDA has not approved Xanax to be used as a treatment for dogs. However, there are vets that will prescribe the medication to treat the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic Stress

Some vets may prescribe Xanax to treat conditions that aren’t associated with anxiety. This medication should not be given to dogs that have been diagnosed with aggression, however.

How It Works

It is presumed that benzodiazepines – and as a result, Xanax – works in a variety of ways in animals. To start with, this substance enhances the effect of a neurotransmitter known as GABA. There is also some evidence to prove that this medication can have an effect on both serotonin and acetylcholine levels in the body.

Xanax works on the limbic, hypothalamic, and thalamic level of the central nervous system. Due to this, the following effects may be noted in canines:

  • Reduction in anxiety
  • Relaxing of the muscles
  • Promotion of a calming effect

Benzodiazepines may be prescribed along with other medications to produce results not typically associated with the drug.


Xanax can be found in doses of 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 1mg, and 2mg tablets. These pills are scored, making it easier to divide them into the best possible dose for canines. You should always consult a vet regarding the best dosage for your dog. They will consider a variety of specific factors regarding your dog before prescribing the right amount.

There are, however, some guidelines for Xanax doses. In most instances, you will find that the precise dosage is calculated according to the weight of the dog. It is calculated as such:

0.02 to 0.04mg per kilo of body weight

The dose can be given every four to six hours or as prescribed by the vet.

If Xanax is being used as a preventative medication, it should be administered at least two and a half hours before an anticipated event. To prevent an anxiety attack, the medication should be given immediately.

Side Effects

There is a possibility that certain dogs may experience side effects when administered Xanax. The most common reactions include:

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty in coordinating limbs or movement

In some instances, Xanax can increase excitability or aggression in certain dogs.


Consuming more than the recommended dose of Xanax can result in an overdose. Some of the symptoms of this may be:

  • Severe sedation
  • Slower breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you notice the following signs, you should contact emergency pet services immediately.

To reduce the risk of an overdose, carefully following the dosage and schedule provided to you by the vet. You should also keep the medication out of the reach of dogs to prevent them from accidentally swallowing them.


Xanax should not be prescribed or administered to dog with the following diagnoses:

  • Allergies to alprazolam or benzodiazepines
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Nursing

To avoid any negative reactions, you should always inform your vet of any medical conditions or problems that your dog has been diagnosed with.

Adverse Reactions with Other Medications

Xanax can negatively interact with a number of drugs, supplements, and other ingredients. Here are the most common interactions:

  • Benadryl
  • Prednisone
  • Tramadol
  • Trazodone
  • Vitamin D3
  • Prozac

Make sure to tell the vet any and all supplements or medications that your dog is taking before he or she is prescribed with Xanax.

Administering Xanax to Dogs

You should never administer Xanax to your dog unless specifically told to do so by a vet.

Make sure to always follow the dosage and scheduling instructions provided to you by a vet. Avoid skipping doses but if you do, never combine two doses to make up for a missed dose.

Once you have administered Xanax, carefully monitor your dog for signs of an allergic or adverse reaction. If these should appear, call emergency services immediately.

If your dog has previously had a negative reaction with any other kind of benzodiazepine, mention this circumstance to the vet.