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Acepromazine Dosage for Cats

Acepromazine, or acepromazine maleate, is used as a tranquilizer in cats to help with anxiety associated with stressful situations such as veterinary visits, grooming appointments and thunderstorms. Acepromazine is also prescribed for cats with motion sickness, because this medicine has antiemetic as well as calming effects. Actual dosage needed for a cat might vary from the recommended dose depending on the individual cat's reaction.

General Dosage

    The manufacturer's recommended dosage of .25-1.0 mg per pound of body weight (0.5 - 2.2 mg/kg) is considered safe for cats. An 8-pound cat, for example, would take a dose sized between 2 and 8 mg. The range of dose size is quite large; veterinarians recommend beginning with the lowest dose and testing its effectiveness before needed for a stressful event. The general prescribed dose per body weight can be adjusted up or down as needed for the individual animal.

    Acepromazine tablets are available in 10-mg and 25-mg sizes, scored in quarters. For a cat, you would be prescribed the 10-mg size. Each quarter pill would then be 2.5 mg.

Function

    Acepromazine may be used to preempt an anxiety reaction to stress-causing events. Blocking receptors in the brain that react to anxiety or stress needs to take place before adrenaline floods the cat's system. Adrenaline will override the effects of the sedative, masking the effects of the appropriate dosage. In some cats, acepromazine has the opposite effect to what is desired, making the cat more aggressive or excited.

    Acepromazine is also used as a post-operative tool in recovery, to maintain calm in a cat that needs to rest for healing. Normally this will be used in combination with a pain reliever such as butorphanol, hydromorphone or buprenorphine. In this case, a dose as small as .01 to .05 mg/lb. (0.02 to 0.10 mg/kg) is appropriate and will likely be administered by injection rather than in oral form.

Overdose

    Overdosing with acepromazine is possible, though it is considered safe due to removal from the system by the liver. In case of overdose, veterinarians treat symptoms as they occur until acepromazine is cleared from the system. Symptoms might include slow heart rate, low blood pressure, pale gums and seizures. The most likely response to overdose is a deep sleep for up to 12 hours. To avoid overdose, cats should be given the lowest prescribed dose first and observed closely for response to this medication. Cardiovascular collapse is rare but has been observed in cats. If you suspect overdose, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Drug Interactions

    Overdose must not be confused with drug interaction. Acepromazine will interact dangerously with narcotics, barbiturates and other anesthetics that depress the central nervous system. Epinephrine, propanolol, quinidine, phenytoin and procaine hydrochloride also have negative interactions with acepromazine. Organophosphate deworming medications and antidiarrheal medications can reduce the effectiveness of acepromazine, which can lead to overdose.

When to Dose

    Acepromazine should be given 45 minutes to an hour before the expected event. Acepromazine generally takes 20 to 30 minutes to take effect and should be dosed three times daily as needed. The drug wears off after 24 hours but remains in the cat's system for two to three weeks.

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