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Diazepam for Veterinary Use

By Evan Ware, DVM

Basic Information

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine tranquilizer that is used in veterinary medicine to sedate, reduce anxiety, promote behavioral changes, or induce muscle relaxation. Diazepam is also an anticonvulsant and can be administered to some species to stimulate appetite.

Veterinary Medicine Uses for Diazepam

In veterinary medicine, diazepam can be prescribed for dogs, cats, reptiles, sheep, horses, and goatscan alter the form of the drug for oral, intravenous, or rectal administration.

Diazepam commonly is administered as a sedative, muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant, or anti-anxiety medication for dogs and cats.

Diazepam also can be used to treat behavioral problems, such as aggression, excessive grooming, territorial spraying, and terror caused by loud noises. When treating dogs for aggression, diazepam can produce a reverse outcome, causing amplification rather than suppression of aggressive behaviors.

As an anticonvulsant, diazepam can be used in veterinary medicine to treat seizures, whether due to toxic shock or status epilepticus. However, since dogs develop a tolerance quickly, diazepam is not typically selected to continually manage seizures.

While not an analgesic, diazepam is commonly administered to sedate horses prior to surgical procedures. In adult horses, diazepam often can be paired with another medication to produce the necessary level of sedation.

Diazepam also can be administered to horses as an anticonvulsant, whether alone or as part of an amalgamation of other medications. It also can help with breeding behaviors, particularly for withdrawn stallions.

Potential Side-Effects of Diazepam

Common side-effects include impaired coordination and lethargy. Aggression, excitement, or marked behavioral changes are unusual side-effects. While rare, hepatic toxicity also has been reported in some cats.

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Therapeutic Class


May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Its anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, hypnotic, appetite stimulant and anticonvulsant activities

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About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Evan Ware, DVM

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of interest include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.