Considerations for Using Diazepam in Dogs

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Veterinarians with a dog
Veterinarians With A Dog

Valium (diazepam) has many applications in dogs and is a commonly used medication. Diazepam is a regulated benzodiazepine drug that provides a calming effect on many body systems as it targets many different centers in the brain and central nervous system. No matter the reason a dog is given diazepam, it should only be given under the direct advisement of a licensed veterinarian.

Valium (Diazepam) Usages in Dogs

Valium (diazepam) is a muscle relaxant. Because body musculature plays a role in so many illnesses, diazepam can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions. Diazepam is frequently used in the veterinary hospital as part of the pre-anesthetic protocol as well. In many cases, it is administered intravenously at the veterinary hospital or even rectally by the dog's owner at home before transport to an emergency or surgical facility.

The following muscle-related disorders in dogs are examples of conditions diazepam can treat:

  • Certain toxicities that result in tremors, seizures, or other abnormal muscle contractions
  • Muscle cramping disorders, such as Scotty cramp, a metabolic disease of Scottish terriers
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), to help relieve pain and discomfort from GI spasms
  • Skeletal pain from sources such as intervertebral disk disease (a slipped disk in the back)
Siberian Husky
Siberian Husky

Diazepam is known to be an appetite stimulant. However, the additional sedative effects of diazepam often negate any appetite stimulation. There may be other medications that are more appropriately used as an appetite stimulant.

Diazepam is also used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Examples include dogs that urinate inside the house as a result of stress in the environment and dogs that suffer from fear of thunderstorms, fireworks, or other over-stimulating situations.

Diazepam is also sometimes used to control seizures and epilepsy. It is used to control status epilepticus (a non-ending seizure) or cluster seizures which are two or more seizures that occur in a short time, not allowing the dog time to recover between seizures.

Considerations for Using Diazepam in Dogs

Unfortunately, diazepam can interact with many different medications, including:

brown and white short-coated dog
brown and white short-coated dog
  • Antacids such as cimetidine
  • Heart medications such as propranolol and digoxin
  • Antibiotics such as erythromycin
  • Antifungal medications such as ketoconazole

If diazepam needs to be used in conjunction with these medications, the dosage may need to be altered. Always make your veterinarian aware of any other medications your dog is receiving.


Diazepam should not be used in pregnant or nursing females. The drug may adversely affect the unborn fetuses or the nursing puppies.

Side Effects of Diazepam

As diazepam affects most muscle groups in the body, systemic (whole-body) side effects of diazepam may include:

  • Incoordination
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Cardiovascular depression
  • Respiratory depression
short-coated gray and tan dog on selective focus photo
short-coated gray and tan dog on selective focus photo
selective focus photography of two Siberian husky during daytime
selective focus photography of two Siberian husky during daytime

If your dog has been receiving diazepam, it is not a good idea to suddenly stop giving the medication. This may lead to withdrawal symptoms. If you have skipped a dose, do not give two doses at once.

Diazepam should be used cautiously in aggressive dogs, as it can sometimes cause a reverse reaction in which the animal instead becomes more excitable and difficult to manage.