Xanax(®) (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine tranquilizer/sedative that can be used to treat anxious or panicked dogs. It is also sometimes used for the treatment of aggression but this is controversial as the drug can actually have the opposite effect and increase aggression in some cases. When compared to Valium® (diazepam), Xanax does not affect motor skills as significantly at lower dosages.

Natural Alternatives

Synthetic medicines like Xanax can cause our dogs a number of nasty side effects, so it’s best to use natural remedies whenever possible. For relieving anxiety we highly recommend Anxietrex, a completely natural remedy which is able to dramatically reduce anxiety without side effects!

Special training programs can also help to reduce anxiety in dogs. Doggy Dan’s Online Dog Trainer is a simple yet fantastic training program that can be used to stop your dog’s anxiety for good!

Typical Dosage For Dogs

Note: Xanax is a prescription medicine and should not be administered without approval and a dosage recommendation from your vet.

Though heavily dependent on the condition being treated, typical doses range from 0.005 – 0.045 mg/lb given orally every 6 to 12 hours, or 1 to 2 mg for a medium sized dog each day. The chart below is mapped out for the higher dosage of 0.045 mg/lb for the treatment of panic and general canine anxiety disorders. The actual dose may be rounded up or down by your vet to accomodate easy administration.

Warning: Owners should not exceed a daily dosage of 4 mg for any dog, regardless of their weight.

Chart of the typical Xanax dosage when treating general anxiety

The table below contains recommended doses for treating specific conditions:

For treating…

Method of administration

Dosage (4 mg maximum)

Panic, general anxietyOral0.005 – 0.045 mg/lb
Separation anxietyOral0.12 – 0.9 mg/lb once to three times daily
Storm anxietyOral0.01 – 0.18 mg/lb every 4 hours as needed
Phobias, night wakingOral0.005 – 0.045 mg/lb every 6 to 12 hours

The initial total daily dosage limit may be lower than stated (around 1 to 2 mg for a medium sized dog). Starting with a lower daily limit allows owners to see how their dog reacts to the medicine. If you have difficulties getting your dog to take the medicine there are orally disintegrating formulations available. Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) may also be used in the treatment of anxiety at a dosage of 1 mg/lb but is not always effective.

When should I administer the medicine?

Owners are advised to administer the medicine about one hour before a stressful event.

Example Dosage: For panic a 30 lb dog would require between 0.15 and 1.35 mg per dose.

How Safe Is It?

Many people have concerns about the use of human prescription medicines on their pets, but so far Xanax has shown to be relatively safe when used responsibly under the approval of a vet. Despite this, those with liver or kidney issues may not be suitable for treatment with the drug.

If you don’t think Xanax is right for your dog there are many other options. Our general page about anxiety meds for dogs contains information about other traditional medicines which can be used to treat anxiety as well as a number of natural remedies like Zylkene®. Alternatively you can seek the help of a canine massage specialist.

Pregnancy/Nursing: Alprazolam is not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Administering benzodiazepines to a pregnant dog could lead to abnormalities and deformities in offspring.

How To Safely Use This Medicine

Because Xanax is a prescription medication you will always need to seek a prescription from your vet before use. During the consult your vet will likely ask questions to determine whether or not your dog is suitable for treatment. Be sure to discuss:

  • Other medicines your pet is taking (many drugs interact with benzodiazepines)
  • Bad reactions your pet has had to benzodiazepines in the past
  • Existing medical conditions your pet suffers from
  • Whether natural remedies are more suitable
  • Do not give more than 4 mg every 24 hours

When you want to stop treatment with the drug after a period of prolonged use, you will be required to gradually decrease the dosage daily before stopping completely. Withdrawing the drug immediately could lead to issues. The vet will be able to help you with this.

What Are The Uses Of This Drug?

There are several uses of alprazolam for treating dogs. It is most often used to treat:

  • Panic
  • Phobias
  • General anxiety
  • Separation anxiety

It is sometimes used to treat aggression but this is controversial and often advised against as it can reduce inhibition.

If you were hoping to use the medicine to calm a hyperactive dog, you could try out some brain games for dogs instead. Stimulating a dog’s mind and providing him with extra exercise throughout the day will help him to burn off extra energy, which can prevent insomnia and hyperactivity.

Possible Side Effects

The following side effects are possible during treatment with Xanax:


  • Fatigue
  • Sedation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased appetite


  • CNS excitement
  • Liver problems

Incidence Unknown

  • Loss of learning abilities

Check your dog’s eyes regularly during the course of their treatment. If you notice that they become tinted yellow at any point call the vet immediately, as this is a signal of liver damage.


An overdose of Xanax will greatly depress the central nervous system which can manifest in the following ways:

  • Sluggish reaction times
  • Extreme sedation
  • Confusion
  • Coma

In some cases hyperactivity occurs following an overdose (in contrast to sedation). If you have accidentally administered an overdose or if you suspect your dog has eaten a number of pills you should call the vet immediately or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline on (888) 426-4435. Flumazenil may be administered in cases of severe CNS depression and standard methods of binding the drug in the stomach will be employed.


Dr. Crowell-Davis
Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook (sixth edition)