Prescription Sleeping Pills For Dogs Are Legal, But…

If your dog is like mine, he (or she) is afraid of something. Maybe it’s fireworks.  It could be thunderstorms. My dog is afraid of a few specific things including the rev of a boat engine and anything that even remotely sounds like fireworks.

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As a dog owner, there’s always going to be that one time when you just want to do something to calm his/her nerves. It would be nice to go for a drive with a calm, relaxed, and preferably sleeping dog in the back seat, wouldn’t it?

There are good ways to help ease your dog into a calm slumber, and I’m going to outline all of them for you today. I only ask that you pay particular attention to the warnings and cautions highlighted below.

There are no pharmaceutical sleeping pills for dogs!

You might be surprised to learn that the United States Food and Drug  Administration does not prohibit veterinarians from prescribing drugs made for human consumption. The only prohibition on drugs is for what are known as “food-producing” animals such as cattle and pigs. 

That doesn’t mean your veterinarian will prescribe a sleeping pill for your dog.

Veterinarians must adhere to a code of ethical conduct known as the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics (PVME).  They are required to uphold the professional dignity and authority of the profession by upholding the law and ensuring the safety and care of their patients.

The following medications are toxic and poisonous to dogs. Please read carefully.

CAUTION: Never administer an over-the-counter drug meant for human consumption to your dog without professional advice.

Ibuprofen

You know Ibuprofen by the brand names Advil and Motril. These tablets are considered very dangerous for dogs and can ultimately result in kidney failure.

2. Zolpidem

Zolpidem, also known as Ambien, is a sleep aid for people. Sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, and Zopiclone are absolutely not considered safe for dogs.  There have been incidences where dogs have accidentally ingested pills left out. Reactions included dangerous heart rate changes and a sudden drop in blood pressure

3. Adderall

This brand-name drug contains four different types of amphetamines and is formulated for people with attention deficit disorder. Dogs who ingest this medication are at risk of sudden drops in blood pressure, weakness, and collapse

prescription sleeping pills for dogs
Thank you to Loved at Last Dog Rescue in British Columbia for the use of this picture. 

4. Alprazolam

There are a variety of anti-anxiety medications that are specially formulated for humans. An accidental ingestion by a dog could lead to a serious drop in blood pressure.

5. Antidepressants

Some people might think that because an antidepressant helps them get to sleep, a smaller dose will help their dog get to sleep. There are various classifications of antidepressants (SSRI, SNRI, and MAOI, for example).  These medications are formulated to interact with human brain chemistry and are not designed for dog use.

Note: There are instances where veterinarians have prescribed antidepressants for depression and anxiety in dogs.

6. Naproxen.

Naproxen, known to most people as Aleve, is a unique pain-killer designed for human consumption only.

7. Ativan

Ativan is an anti-anxiety agent that is known by different names.  There are different formulations and none of them are considered safe for dogs.

Treatment for separation anxiety can be highly effective if implemented diligently and a once destructive and anxious dog can become a much more relaxed and contented animal. https://t.co/mef4mZsImS pic.twitter.com/CKgGZDCdbD

— Victoria Stilwell (@VictoriaS) May 11, 2018


I asked my veterinarian once if giving my dog 1/2 tablet of Ativan would be okay. There was no hesitation in her voice. Absolutely not, she said.  That said, I know people who have done it, and no harm has come to their dog…at least nothing we can see.  I don’t recommend giving it to your dog.  Ever.

Please keep in mind that the above list is by no means complete. Never administer medications meant for humans to a dog. Always ask your veterinarian when in doubt. There might be circumstances where the veterinarian will approve certain drugs with good reason, but only he/she can make that decision safely.

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: Below are more drugs that have been used by veterinarians to help prevent motion sickness, nausea, dizziness, and induce sleepiness.

Even though the use of these over-the-counter medicines are thought to be safe, there are circumstances such as weakened immune systems, chronic conditions, or other prescriptions that could interact with them.

8. Benadryl

Benadryl is an antihistamine used to treat allergies in humans. It’s not specifically designed for dogs, but it has been used with good results to induce calm.

Dogs have been known to react to Benadryl. Symptoms of a drug reaction or allergy include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • No appetite
  • Weak
  • Tired

9. Dramamine or Gravol

Dramamine and Gravol are both separate brand names used for the treatment of nausea. They are also known to cause drowsiness in some people and have been shown some effect in dogs.

The active ingredient in these two drugs is called dimenhydrinate.  Dramamine and Benadryl are both sedating drugs, but with different chemical compositions.  

The suggestion I received for my large dogs was to give 25 to 50 milligrams approximately one hour before leaving for the trip.  My dogs are 75 pounds each.  A smaller dog would get about 12.5 milligrams.

10. Melatonin

It’s thought that in the right dosage of melatonin can help your dog relax and sleep. It may help with anxiety and nervousness as well.  Melatonin is a natural hormone that occurs in our bodies. Natural, however, doesn’t necessarily mean safe.  In this case, less is more. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

Never give your dog any medications without the advice of the veterinarian.

I just can’t state it enough. Even if you’ve given it to your dog before, or you know someone who has, don’t do it.

11. No meds at all!

Sometimes all the dog requires is more exercise and a good behavioral training program.  If you need something else,  you could try some of the holistic or natural mixtures available at respected, well-known pet stores.

The Calming/Anti-Anxiety Vest

Have you tried or considered this type of vest? I suggest getting the best quality and not a mock-up or a cheap lookalike. These vests were designed to apply enough pressure around the dog’s body to feel comforting.  The vest in the image below also contains a pouch for calming essential oil.

NOTE:  Only use small amounts of essential oil and make sure to apply on fabric (not your dog).  Best practice is to also dab it in places where the dog cannot lick at it.

Calming “Treats”

There are certain times when I know my dog is going to need something to help keep him calm.  However, I don’t always need or want to use the anti-anxiety vest.  

When other people come over with their dogs for a short visit, it causes a little stress in my dogs. Nothing too serious, but enough to upset him.  If I know when company is coming, I give my dog a calming “treat” and he never knows the difference. 

It makes a huge difference.  Instead of enduring a visit, my dog is able to relax.  

At the risk of putting YOU to sleep…

Better safe than sorry. If your dog is suffering a great deal of anxiety frequently, he/she might benefit from behavioral modifications and training.

Dogs pick up on our energy so if we’re nervous, there’s a good chance they will be too.  Sometimes the best medicine for our dogs is to monitor our own well-being.   If you liked this post, please share.  Comments? Concerns?

Good Nutrition Goes a Long Way

I like to promote good nutrition whenever I can, and I think this is the right time.  I am not saying that a healthy diet will prevent your dog from becoming anxious.  However, a healthy diet just might prevent him/her from suffering from other illnesses that could make anxiety worse.  Food allergies, for example, keep your dog in a constant state of stress.  

Read:   Beneful Grain Free vs Fromm Grain Free Dog Food

At the end of the day, please do not give your dog pharmaceuticals formulated for people. Your veterinarian should always be your sole source of information when it comes to your dog’s health!

I want to thank you for reading this post and I really hope you’ll come back.  I’ve got lots of posts and even courses planned that will help you make more money for your dog.

Questions or concerns?
I’m all ears, especially for any corrections. Facts are important