How Safe Is ACE?

cindy_lou_whoJune 19, 2012

One of my bulldogs is terrified of most loud noises, especially thunder & fireworks. She also has issues with separation anxiety. She has to be by my side at all times.

Usually she can sense a storm 20-30 minutes before it hits, if we see her shaking, we know a storm is coming. Sometimes she'll pee, usually it's a lot of shaking, drooling, gas, and whimpering. She has broken her crate, cutting her eye in the process.

With the Fourth Of July coming, we saw the vet today to see about medication. He prescribed Ativan to be used as needed for thunderstorms, and ACE only to be used for things like the Fourth (when we know it'll be all day noise)

I explained to him that I did not want ACE because of all the warnings I've read about reactions, especially in dogs with short noses (Boxers, Bulldogs, etc) because of breathing issues. He denied that was true and insisted ACE is safe. The more I read, I don't want to give it to her. He was against Valium because he said it was short acting and not worth using.

Do any of you have experience with ACE or maybe another suggestion? (The Thundershirt was a waste. $50 to make her look cute while she shakes)

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weed30

I had a collie/shepherd mix who was terrified of storms. I used ACE for a long time, until something I heard or read made me stop: She was likely just as scared, but now she was doped up and scared. Imagine yourself being terrified and drugged up. Being in a situation you wanted to escape but had poor motor control and diminished thought process. That is MY interpretation, and I am obviously not a vet. I personally think valium or xanax is a better choice. I take them sometimes when flying or going to the dentist. They work beautifully.

Here is an article that might be of interest. The one thing that stood out:

Again, if animals are like humans, the tranquilization acepromazine offers allows for continued awareness (perhaps even heightened awareness). In fact, thatâÂÂs technically the difference between a tranquilizer and a sedative. Tranquilizers, by definition, allow you to retain some awareness.

That is one vet's opinion (that I happen to agree with). I think some research on tranquilizers vs sedatives would be helpful to you.

And, I'm sorry for you and your dog. It is so hard seeing what they go through, and no matter what you do they can't be easily calmed. When I stopped using ACE with my dog, I didn't use anything else...just calmed her the best I could until the storm was over. By the time I figured out that valium or xanax might help, she was quite old and had lost her fear.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:15PM
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lukkiirish

Do you have a basement? Taking him/her below ground might help.

First I think it's great that you'll do whatever is needed to help your dog with his anxiety issues. Many owners just let the pet suffer with the fear and get mad about the ramifications that can cause.

I don't know anything specifically about ACE so I can't advise but what I can say with out hesitation is that you need to trust your instincts and if you don't agree with your Vets plan of care, seek a second opinion or Vet to prescribe a different drug.

I know from personal experience though that Valium is short acting so you may want to looking to using something else entirely.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:19PM
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cindy_lou_who

I have read that ACE sedates them while leaving them fully aware of what's going on around them. That's one of my concerns.

She does run to the basement sometimes, but we're not always at home when she hears thunder. If we're at camp she has nowhere to hide in a camper. I usually just wrap her in a blanket and hold her but it really doesn't help.

I keep seeing Rescue Remedy, which is a natural stress relief liquid for dogs. I may look into that more and try the Ativan for storms/fire works.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:25PM
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lzrddr

Ace is probably one of the most used drugs in veterinary medicine... or it was... used less nowadays that people realize it is NOT an anti-anxiety drug, but as discussed above, just a tranquilizer.. however, even a tranquilizer has its uses. From a safety standpoint, it is a pretty safe drug and overdoses rarely end up in death. But it can really knock a dog out for a day or more if overdosed. Some dogs are uniquely sensitive to it, and what may gently tranquilize one dog, may cause another one to pass out for many hours.

That said, It is probably still the number one drug used for fireworks and thunder situations, though it does tend to only tranquilize a dog, it does not make him or her less anxious. An anti anxiety medicine, such as Alprazolam (Xanax) is a lot more appropriate, and it works immediately (unlike ace which takes over half an hour to kick in)... but Xanax wears off quickly (so often has to be repeated several times per storm), too, and it does not wipe out anxiety... just decreases it... so the end result is often unsatisfactory- pet is till very anxious, but less so, and it still can tear a whole through your door trying to hide. Other anti anxiety drugs, such as Valium, tend to make dog's far too wobbly, which may actually increase their anxiety rather than decrease it. Clomipramine (Clomicalm) works on a percentage of dogs, but sometimes requires taking it for days to get a decent blood level.

My old Golden was great with thunder as a pup, but became so crazed as on old dog that he literally tore down doors and went through windows when in thundered. We did give him ace just to avoid those tragic situations, ALONG with some Xanax... combination worked well, but you need to talk to your vet about this since mixing drugs an be riskier. STill, both ace and xanax are pretty safe (the latter being really safe- saw a dog last week that ate 10x his maximum dose and did really well). Behavior modification tends to work well, and best in the long term, but it is not something you can do at a moment's notice. Drugs still can help.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 12:45PM
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tomatotomata

Have you tried a thunder shirt? I have no personal experience with it, but I have heard recommendations from several sources.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 6:20PM
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