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Behavior

Fearful Dog and Cat

Medication for the Anxious, Fearful Dog and Cat Jill Sackman, DVM, PhD, DACVS Transporting and handling a fearful and anxious dog or cat in a veterinary practice can be challenging. It has been reported that nearly 80% of dogs that visit veterinary practices for examination exhibit signs of anxiety or fear (Doring, et al 2009). Fearful dogs and cats resist restraint and may display signs of aggression when handled. Although fear-based aggression in dogs and cats is not uncommon, one negative visit has the impact of making every subsequent visit even worse! Acepromazine is a dissociative agent; it inhibits logical environmental assessment. Often referred to as “ace,” acepromazine is routinely used to sedate fearful or aggressive dogs. Research has shown that acepromazine functions primarily as a chemical restraint without affecting the animal’s emotional behavior. However, while under the influence of “ace,” animals still have strong anxiety, avoidance or arousal responses, but they either don’t display these reactions, or they are delayed in reacting. The dog may appear calm but is still having an intense emotional reaction. Fear may intensify to a level in which it overrides the physiological sedative effects of “ace”; the animal seems ‘out of it,’ but the

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