Generic Drug Name: Diazepam
Other Common Names: Valium, Diastat
Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that is primarily used as an anxiolytic, muscle relaxant, hypnotic, appetite stimulant, and anticonvulsant. It can also be used in preanesthesia protocols for neuroleptanalgesia. Diazepam is also effective in treating status epilepticus and cluster seizures in dogs.
Use of diazepam in cats is rare, as the risk of severe hepatotoxicity being much higher in this species. Diazepam is generally not useful as a maintenance anticonvulsant in dogs because its duration is short and tolerance to the drug can occur. Injection should occur slowly, as rapid injections of diazepam may cause hypotension/cardiotoxicity in small animals. Caution should be used when administering to patients with hepatic or renal disease and in debilitated or geriatric animals. Caution should also be used in patients suffering from coma, shock, or significant respiratory depression.
Common adverse effects caused of diazepam can include hypotension, sedation, agitation, increased appetite, CNS excitement, ataxia, and aggression. Some additional adverse effects experienced by cats can include hepatic failure, irritability, depression, aberrant demeanor, anorexia, lethargy, hyperbilirubinemia, increased ALT/AST, emesis, and inappetence.
Diazepam should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Emergency veterinary care should be sough immediately if an overdose is suspected, signs of which include CNS depression, hypotension, respiratory depression, and cardiac arrest.
Diazepam should be kept at room temperature in a tightly sealed, light resistant, childproof container. It should be stored where children and pets will not be able to reach it and should be kept away from conditions that may cause freezing. Diazepam should not be administered using plastic tools, as plastic may absorb the solution.
A common dose of diazepam for dogs is .5-10 mg/kg three times a day. For cats, a typical dose ranges from .2-2.5 mg/kg every 8-12 hours. A typical dose used for horses is .05-.4 mg/kg or 25-50 mg as necessary. Doses should be administered on a strictly timed schedule. Should a dose be forgotten, it should be administered as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next scheduled dose, the missed dose should be skipped. Two doses should never be administered at the same time.
Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.