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Home>Drugs> Diazepam   

Diazepam (Valium)

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine, a type of minor tranquilizer. Benzodiazepines are addictive and produce tolerance and withdrawal symptoms comparable to those for alcohol and barbiturates.

Drug Class

Anticonvulsant, sedative, muscle relaxant, anxiolytic

Use of Diazepam

Diazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, convulsive disorders, and as skeletal muscle relaxant. It is most useful for stopping seizures in dogs with cluster seizures or status epilepticus. Diazepam is usually the first treatment administered to stop these life-threatening seizures. 2

Brand Names

Diastat, Diazepam Intensol, Valium

Potential Side Effects in Dogs and Cats

When used on a long-term basis, diazepam is found to produce adverse side effects and induce physical dependence and its application is therefore limited. The drug is often associated with motor impairment and also an impairment of memory (especially short-term) and consequently learning ability. Diazepam is contra-indicated in patients with impaired liver function and the long-term use of this drug in cats is believed to be associated with hepatic damage. Loss of appetite can be a sign that the cat has a liver reaction and is cause for immediate cessation of the drug. 3 In cats the drug may also render cats unable to judge distance between objects or proximity of approaching cars: a serious concern for cats that have access outdoors. 1

Diazepam has an extremely short half-life in the dog and frequent administration can seriously limit its administration. To maintain therapeutic concentration, dogs may require three doses per day. Similar drugs have become popular (chlorazepate and alprazolam) because they are much longer acting. 4It also has been found to escalate the level of aggression. Physical dependence is well recognized in humans and animals also show anxiety withdrawal response and this accounts for the high recurrence rate for urine spraying in cats when treated with diazepam. 1

Diazepam can produce poor movement coordination in dogs, including unsteady coordination and falling down, side effects that many dog owners find unacceptable. Poor coordination (ataxia) may be particularly problematic in excitable dogs, because they may injure themselves attempting to escape a fearful situation.

Drug Interactions

This drug is metabolized by a specific set of liver enzymes. Several other drugs interfere with these liver enzymes and thus may increase or decrease the clearance of diazepam from the body, potentially increasing the risk of side effects or decreasing effectiveness. Diazepam potentiates the central nervous depressant effects of narcotic analgesics, barbiturates, phenothiazines, ethanol, antihistamines, MAO inhibitors, sedative-hypnotics, and cyclic antidepressants. 5

Source: REF FILE #AD-107




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