Can dogs use Xanax?

  • Xanax is often prescribed as an extra-label drug by veterinarians to treat anxiety-related disorders in dogs(1). It is also used as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant drug to suppress seizures(2)
  • The use of Xanax causes side effects on dogs like sedation, increased appetite, interference with learning, and excitement instead of tranquilization(3). Dogs may also develop a physical dependence on Xanax(4).
  • There are several natural alternatives that dog owners are turning to in treating their pet’s anxiety, and among them is the use of CBD oil.  
  • CBD oil has anti-anxiety properties that can help improve the condition of these dogs(5).
  • Before administering CBD to their dogs, pet owners should consult with their veterinarian first.

Natural Alternatives to Xanax for Dogs

Best Overall

Spruce Dog CBD Oil 750mg

Dog-Friendly CBD Oil
Spruce Dog CBD Oil 750mg Bottle
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  • Summary

    Spruce’s dog-friendly CBD has been specially formulated for dogs. Instead of hemp seed oil for the carrier oil, the product contains coconut oil, which is generally easier on the digestion for dogs. The taste is also milder with no flavorings, making it more likely that dogs will eat it with their food.

    Using Spruce CBD for dogs is simple. All owners have to do is sprinkle the desired dose on the dog’s food at mealtime once or twice a day. Each dose should consist of about two to three drops per 20 pounds of dog weight.

    Pro's
    Cons's
    •  Same as human lab grade, full spectrum CBD oil
    •  Easier on Dog's digestion
    •  Made from 100% organic and natural ingredients
    •  No other flavors
  • Features
    Discount pricing available?20% Off Coupon Code: CBDCLINICALS
    Source
    Source of Hemp
    Kentucky, USA & North Carolina, USA
    FormOil
    IngredientsFull Spectrum Organic CBD Oil, Organic Coconut MCT Oil
    Type
    Type of CBD
    Full Spectrum
    Extraction
    Extraction Method
    Moonshine extraction method
    How to take itSquirt 2 to 3 drops per 20lbs. of dog weight on the dog food one to two times per day. Picky eaters may need it stirred in, or covered with some food Up to 25lbs./11kg – 2 drops one to two times per day on the dog food 25-50lbs./11-23kg – 4 drops one to two times per day on the dog food 50-75lbs./23-34kg – 6 drops one to two times per day on the dog food Over 75lbs./34kg – 8+ drops one to two times per day on the dog food
    Potency
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    750 mg per bottle
    Carrier OilOrganic Coconut MCT Oil
    Concentration
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    25mg of CBD per dropper full (1ml)
    Drug TestNot applicable
    FlavoursNatural
    Price Range$89 ($75.65 for subscriptions, 15% discount from regular price)
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    $0.11 ($0.10/mg with subscription)
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    2-4 business days (first class USPS)
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    ContaminantsOrganic, Non-GMO, no pesticides, no herbicides, no solvents or chemical fertilizers, No preservatives or sweeteners
    AllergensContains tree nuts (Coconut)
    Refund policyWithin 30 days
    Recommended forAll dog breeds
    Countries servedUSA only (all 50 states)
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NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Pet Oil

Perfectly formulated CBD for Dogs, Cats, and other four-legged animals
NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Pet Oil
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    CBD for dogs, cats and other four-legged friends! Our product is concentrated to approximately 60mg cannabinoids per milliliter of oil. While this product is designed for pets, it’s great for humans, too.

    Pro's
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    •  Pure CBD hemp
    •  All natural
    •  No other flavors
  • Features
    Discount pricing available?CBDCLINICALS20
    Source
    Source of Hemp
    Colorado, USA
    FormOil Tincture
    IngredientsUSDA Certified Organic Hemp Oil, Full Spectrum Hemp Extract
    Type
    Type of CBD
    Full Spectrum CBD
    Extraction
    Extraction Method
    CO2 Method
    How to take it2-3 drops per 20lbs
    Potency
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    300mg - 900mg
    Carrier OilOrganic Hemp Oil
    Concentration
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    60ml per dropper full (1ml)
    Drug TestNot applicable
    FlavoursNatural
    Price Range$38.50 - $179.50
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    $0.12 - $0.19
    Shipping
    Shipping/Time to delivery
    2-3 Days via USPS
    Lab Tests
    Lab Testing Transparency
    Third Party Lab Tested post formulation for safety and potency, available on website
    ContaminantsNo additives or preservatives, Non-GMO, NO herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers
    AllergensNot specified
    Refund policyWithin 30 days
    Recommended forAll four-legged animals of any size and breed
    Countries servedUSA (all 50 states) and over 40 countries including Australia, Azerbaijan, Beliza, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macao, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and many more.
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cbdMD Pet CBD Oil Tincture for Dogs

Powerful CBD oil for your canine friends
cbdMD Pet CBD Oil Tincture for Dogs
  • Overall Clinical Score
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  • Score breakdown
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  • Summary

    With nothing but MCT oil combined with CBD oil sourced from U.S. hemp that is grown using organic farming methods, these CBD Oil Tinctures for Dogs can be added to their favorite foods while still providing the same effects that you enjoy. We have two flavors to choose from: Natural and Peanut Butter.

    Pro's
    Cons's
    •  Same CBD Oil benefits as for humans
    •  No THC Animal-specific products (dogs, cats, horses)
    •  Made from premium CBD from non-GMO USA hemp
    •  Low terpene and cannabinoid profile
  • Features
    Discount pricing available?15% Off Coupon Code: cbdMD15
    Source
    Source of Hemp
    Kentucky, USA
    FormOil Tincture
    IngredientsCannabidiol (CBD) and MCT Oil (from palm kernel oil)
    Type
    Type of CBD
    Broad Spectrum
    Extraction
    Extraction Method
    CO2 extraction method
    How to take itEvery dog is unique, so you need to experiment a bit to work out the optimum measurement. Start by giving your pet a small amount every day and watch for improvement. If need be, gradually increase.
    Potency
    Potency - CBD Per Bottle
    150 mg - 3000 mg
    Carrier OilMCT Oil (from palm kernel oil)
    Concentration
    CBD Concentration Per Serving
    150 mg - 5 mg per dropper (1ml), 300 mg - 10 mg per dropper (1ml), 750 mg - 25 mg per dropper (1ml), 1500 mg - 50 mg per dropper (1ml), 3000 mg - 100 mg per dropper (1ml)
    Drug TestNot applicable
    FlavoursNatural and Peanut Butter
    Price Range$19.99 - $149.99
    $/mg CBD
    Price ($/mg)
    $0.05 - $0.13
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    Shipping/Time to delivery
    2-5 Business days (via Fedex)
    Lab Tests
    Lab Testing Transparency
    Third Party Lab Tested post formulation for safety and potency, available on website
    Contaminants100% organic, non-GMO, and vegan-certified
    AllergensVegan, Gluten free
    Refund policyWithin 30 days
    Recommended forAll dog breeds and sizes
    Countries servedUSA only (all 50 states)
Check Latest Prices

What is Xanax?

Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam, an anxiety medication that is prescribed to treat panic disorders and anxiety caused by depression(6). It is listed under benzodiazepines, a group of psychoactive drugs that treat conditions related to the nervous system.  

People who have anxiety may have an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and Xanax aids in correcting these. 

A neurotransmitter that is found in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) acts as the body’s natural tranquilizer. Those with anxiety lack GABA molecules, and Xanax tries to remedy that by enhancing the existing GABA neurotransmitters’ calming effects(7).

Taking Xanax may be addictive(8); hence, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has classified it as a controlled substance and a schedule IV drug. Medications under this category have a low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence(9)

Doctors usually prescribe Xanax as an anxiety disorder medication for a maximum of four months only. For panic disorders, doctors prescribe Xanax for 10 weeks at most(10).

Patients taking Xanax must strictly follow their doctor’s prescription. They should not take it with alcohol, opioid medicine, or other medications that slow down breathing or make people drowsy(11).

Can Xanax be Used on Dogs?

According to Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, Xanax is usually taken as a sedative or tranquilizer for pet anxiety or panic. Even if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Xanax as veterinary medicine, veterinarians still prescribe this as an “off-label” or “extra-label” drug(12).

Off-label drugs are medications used in a way that is not listed on the drug’s label. The FDA gives healthcare providers the discretion to prescribe off-label use of certain medications as long as it is medically appropriate for the patient(13).

As a benzodiazepine tranquilizer, Xanax is mainly used to treat anxiety and as a medication that can be used while a dog is undergoing behavior modification (correction of behavior problems). Pet owners may give their dog Xanax for the following(14):

  • Preventive medication to address triggers like loud noises (e.g., thunderstorm phobias and noise phobias) – Xanax should be administered before the anticipated triggering event.
  • Situational or interventional drug for observed fears and anxieties – Xanax should be given to dogs to prevent a known fear from worsening.
  • A panicolytic drug – Xanax should be given immediately when the dog experiences a panic attack. Panicolytic medications reduce flight reaction(15).

Because of its significant effects on the central nervous system, Xanax is also used as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant medication to suppress seizures(16).

Xanax as Anxiety Medication for Dogs

Like humans, dogs experience anxiety, too. The most common causes of a dog’s anxiety are fear, separation, and aging(17).

American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that strangers or other animals may cause anxiety in dogs. Other fears that can cause anxiety include noise and visual stimuli, specific situations like a car ride or a first-time visit to the veterinarian, unfamiliar environments, and even surfaces like grass or wooden floors(18).

Separation anxiety in dogs, meanwhile, happens when they are left alone or taken away from their families. Older dogs also experience age-related anxiety as they may be prone to cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). This condition is accompanied by a decline in a more senior dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness(19).

Pet owners should look out for these symptoms if they suspect anxiety in their dogs(20):

  • Aggression
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Destructive behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive barking
  • Pacing
  • Restlessness
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors

Xanax Dosage for Dogs

According to the Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, the published dosages for Xanax vary greatly. Dr. Karen Overall recommends a 0.25 to 0.50 mg dosage of Xanax to dogs every 12 hours or every four to six hours, as needed. The preferred starting range is 0.02 to 0.04 mg per kilogram of the dog’s weight(21).

Xanax can be purchased as 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, or 3 mg tablets, or as an oral suspension.

Side Effects of Xanax on Dogs and Other Concerns

Common side effects include the following(22):

  • Sedation
  • Increased hunger
  • Interference with learning
  • Paradoxical effects like excitement instead of tranquilization

Before administering Xanax to their pets, dog owners should be aware of the following(23)

  • The effects of Xanax are more potent if used with the following medications: 
    1. Cimetidine (antacid)
    2. Itraconazole (antifungal drug)
    3. Other anxiety drugs (fluoxetine, clomipramine or clomicalm, diazepam or valium, buspirone, or amitriptyline)
    4. Propranolol and digoxin (heart medications)
  • Patients with liver diseases or kidney diseases should use Xanax with caution.
  • When administering Xanax to a pet for the first time, owners should closely monitor the dog for over-tranquilization or aggression.
  • Xanax should not be used by dogs in their early pregnancy or by dogs who are nursing their puppies.
  • Because Xanax is a controlled substance, veterinarians must keep records upon the prescription of the drug.
  • Suddenly weaning dogs off Xanax after long-term use can cause withdrawal symptoms.
  • Dogs can also develop a physical dependence on Xanax, so it is highly advised that it should only be given to dogs upon a veterinarian’s prescription(24).

CBD Oil as an Alternative to Xanax for Dogs

Instead of administering Xanax, owners of anxious dogs are turning to natural alternatives like music, massage and acupuncture, and even essential oils in treating their dog’s anxiety(25)

Aside from these, some pet owners have also explored the use of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, in alleviating symptoms of dog anxiety. 

A study in 2015 revealed that preclinical evidence suggests that CBD may be used to treat general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder(26).

The American Kennel Club also reports that dog owners use CBD on their pets because of its anti-anxiety properties(27). 

Another study in 2006 that was conducted on mice reported that when CB1 cannabinoid receptors are activated, this reduces anxiety-like behaviors in the test subjects(28). CBD is one of the cannabinoids that interacts and stimulates cannabinoid receptors like CB1.

The test subjects of the 2006 study were mice. It is suggested, however, that the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates the functions of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, is shared by humans and all animals excluding insects(29).

It is suggested that if CBD has positive effects on humans, it must be effective on other animals, too. 

Pet owners use CBD because of its lack of adverse effects on animals. Typical side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, and lowered blood pressure(30).

CBD for veterinary use has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there is no standard dosage for CBD use on dogs. It is recommended to start with a small dose, and if there are no adverse reactions, the dosage may be increased gradually.

Before using CBD, pet owners should inform their veterinarian first.

CBD and Xanax

Though there are no studies on the interaction between Xanax and CBD, using the two drugs on dogs simultaneously is not recommended. 

CBD inhibits cytochrome P450’s ability to metabolize some medications(31), including Xanax, increasing the body’s processing time of the drugs. 

Conclusion

Xanax can be used on dogs to alleviate symptoms of anxiety disorder. However, pet owners should only administer Xanax to their pets upon a veterinarian’s prescription because of its side effects on dogs, such as sedation, increase in appetite, interference with learning, and excitement instead of tranquilization. 

The use of Xanax is also habit-forming in pets. A study has found that dogs can develop a physical dependence on it. The drug should also be used with caution, as it has interactions with several medications, ranging from antacids to antifungal drugs, and even heart medications.

Owners should carefully supervise their dogs when administering Xanax to their pets for the first time because of the possible effects of over-tranquilization or aggression.

Pet owners have started to turn to natural alternatives like CBD oil to treat anxiety-related symptoms because of CBD’s lack of adverse effects on dogs and other animals.

Before adding CBD to a dog’s medication regimen, veterinarians must be consulted first. 


  1. Gollakner, Rania. “Alprazolam.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/alprazolam.
  2. Curley, Kendall. “10 Medications for Dog Anxiety.” PetMD, 17 July 2019, www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/10-medications-dog-anxiety.
  3. Brooks, Wendy. “Alprazolam (Xanax) – Veterinary Partner.” Veterinary Partner, 18 June 2007, veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4952652.
  4. Sloan, Jewell W., et al. “Dependence-Producing Properties of Alprazolam in the Dog.” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Elsevier, 7 Nov. 2002, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/009130579090303Y.
  5. Kriss, Randa. “CBD Oil For Dogs: What You Need To Know.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 27 Oct. 2019, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/.
  6. “Xanax: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings.” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/xanax.html.
  7. Cox, Stephen. “How Does Xanax Work.” National Anxiety Foundation, www.nationalanxietyfoundation.org/how-does-xanax-work/.
  8. Drugs.com. op. cit.
  9. “Drug Scheduling.” DEA, www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling.
  10. Drugs.com. op. cit.
  11. Ibid. 
  12. Gollakner, R. op. cit. 
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Understanding Unapproved Use of Approved Drugs ‘Off Label.’” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/patients/learn-about-expanded-access-and-other-treatment-options/understanding-unapproved-use-approved-drugs-label.
  14. Overall, Karen. “Generalized Guidelines for Using Alprazolam for Noise and Storm Phobias, Panic, and Severe Distress.” Oaklawn Animal Hospital, Mosby, 2013, oaklawnanimalhospital.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/General-Guidelines-for-using-Alprazolam.pdf.
  15. Blanchard, Robert J., et al. “Differentiation of Anxiolytic and Panicolytic Drugs by Effects on Rat and Mouse Defense Test Batteries.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Pergamon, 7 Nov. 1997, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0149763496000620?via%3Dihub.
  16. Curley, K. (2019 July 17). op. cit. 
  17. Kriss, Randa. “Dog Anxiety: What Dog Owners Need to Know.” American Kennel Club, American    Kennel Club, 14 May 2019, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid. 
  20. Ibid.
  21. Overall, K. (2013). op. cit.  
  22. Brooks, W. (2007 June 18). op. cit. 
  23. Ibid. 
  24. Sloan, J. (2002 Nov. 7). op. cit. 
  25. Curley, Kendall. “8 Ways to Calm Your Dog Naturally.” PetMD, 17 July 2019, www.petmd.com/8-ways-calm-your-dog-naturally.
  26. Blessing, Esther M, et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics : the Journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Springer US, Oct. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341731.
  27. Kriss, R. (2019 Oct. 27). op. cit. 
  28. Patel, Sachin, and Cecilia J Hillard. “Pharmacological Evaluation of Cannabinoid Receptor Ligands in a Mouse Model of Anxiety: Further Evidence for an Anxiolytic Role for Endogenous Cannabinoid Signaling.” The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569753/.
  29. Silver, Robert J. “The Endocannabinoid System of Animals.” Animals: an open access journal from MDPI vol. 9,9 686. 16 Sep. 2019, doi:10.3390/ani9090686
  30. Kriss, R. (2019 Oct. 27). op. cit. 
  31. Yamaori, Satoshi, et al. Potent Inhibition of Human Cytochrome P450 3A Isoforms by Cannabidiol: Role of Phenolic Hydroxyl Groups in the Resorcinol Moiety. 10 Feb. 2011, www.medicinalgenomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Potent-inhibition-of-CYP3A-with-CBD.pdf.
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