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By Barbara Forney, VMD
Last reviewed: 9/20/2022
Commonly prescribed for: Tranquilizers
Species: Dogs, Cats, and Horses
Therapeutic Class: Phenothiazine derivative
Acepromazine maleate is a phenothiazine derivative that is used as a
neuroleptic agent in veterinary medicine. It is a commonly used tranquilizer for
dogs, cats, and horses. Phenothiazines decrease dopamine levels and depress some
portions of the reticular activating system. Acepromazine is metabolized by the
liver and excreted in the urine.
In addition to tranquilization, acepromazine has multiple other important
systemic effects including anti-cholinergic, anti-emetic, antispasmodic,
antihistaminic, and alpha-adrenergic blocking properties. Acepromazine causes
hypotension due to decreased vasomotor tone. It may change heart and respiratory
rate and thermoregulatory ability allowing for either hypo- or hyper-thermia.
Acepromazine may be given intramuscularly, intravenously, or orally. It
provides no analgesia and the tranquilizing effect of the drug can be overcome
unexpectedly, particularly by sensory stimulation. Acepromazine usually is less
effective if given after the animal is excited. There is a great deal of
individual variability in the response to acepromazine and despite being a very
commonly used medication there are important species and even breed differences
in response to acepromazine that need to be taken into consideration (see
Acepromazine is one of the most commonly used tranquilizers for dogs and
cats. It decreases anxiety, causes central nervous system depression, and a drop
in blood pressure and heart rate. It may be used in conjunction with atropine as
a pre-operative medication for anxiety and for its antidysrhythmic effects. Oral
acepromazine may be prescribed to prevent motion sickness, to temporarily reduce
itching and scratching due to allergies, or prior to office visits, nail
trimming, or grooming appointments if the animal is too fractious to handle
safely without sedation. Some veterinarians are reluctant to prescribe
acepromazine for travel anxiety when the animal may be exposed to temperature
extremes, such as during plane travel or when there may be limited access to
veterinary care. Other drugs used for travel anxiety/motion sickness include
meclizine, diphenhydramine, and diazepam. Occasionally, animals (particularly
cats) may have a paradoxical response to acepromazine and become excited or
Acepromazine is one of the most commonly used tranquilizers for horses. It
may be used alone or in combination with other sedative drugs such as xylazine,
detomidine, or butorphanol. Because acepromazine lowers blood pressure by
dilating small blood-vessels, it sometimes is prescribed in the early treatment
of laminitis in order to diminish vasospasm, and possibly to improve circulation
within the hoof.
Acepromazine is also used in horses that are prone to exertional
rhabdomyolysis both as a preventive and as a part of the treatment due to its
vasodilatory properties. When acepromazine is used to treat more severe cases of
exertional rhabdomyolysis, intravenous fluids may be desirable to increase
hydration and to support renal function.
Onset of action of acepromazine varies with route of administration; oral
acepromazine may take 30 minutes to one hour. The effects of acepromazine will
last from one to four hours, but this varies significantly with dose and among
individual horses. Acepromazine is a prohibited substance in most sanctioned
competition. Oral administration or long-term, repeated dosing may increase
We can let your veterinarian know that you are interested in our compounded Acepromazine Maleate.
Quarter-scored tablets for maximum flexibility in oral dosing.
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This content is intended for counseling purposes only. This content is informational/educational and is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or patient. No claims are made as to the safety or efficacy of mentioned preparations. The compounded medications featured in this content have been prescribed and/or administered by prescribers who work with Wedgewood Pharmacy. You are encouraged to speak with your prescriber as to the appropriate use of any medication. Wedgewood Pharmacy’s compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.