Anxious dog looking out the window waiting for owner to come home

In a world where canine anxiety is just as common as human anxiety, the notion of Xanax for dogs doesn’t sound that absurd. Is using Xanax for dogs an unrealistic idea, or a legitimate lifeline for your pet’s frayed nerves? Let's explore.

What is Xanax (alprazolam)?

Xanax, classified as a benzodiazepine, is a sedative that addresses anxiety by modulating neurotransmitters in the brain––put simply, by altering nerve activity. Scientifically named alprazolam, Xanax interacts with GABA receptors, thereby calming overactive neurons. For those unfamiliar, GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve signals in the brain, contributing to a calming effect.

Commonly prescribed for human anxiety disorders, Xanax has extended its use to veterinary medicine––most notably in cases of canine anxiety. When veterinarians prescribe Xanax for dogs, the goal is to mitigate issues like thunderstorm fear or separation anxiety. This overlap highlights how certain medications can be versatile in tackling common issues among different species.

Can dogs take Xanax?

Can dogs take Xanax? It’s a common question at the intersection of veterinary care and pet anxiety management. In specific cases, veterinarians may prescribe Xanax for dogs to address anxiety triggers. However, this decision depends on factors such as the dog's size, health, and the nature of anxiety. 

While Xanax for dogs can be a solution to anxiety, it's not a fit for every pet. Dogs with certain health conditions or on specific medications might not be ideal candidates. Veterinary consultations are crucial in determining whether a canine companion can take Xanax.

For instance, dogs with liver issues might have trouble metabolizing the drug, potentially leading to side effects. Additionally, some breeds, especially smaller ones, may be more sensitive to the drug. It's important to consider individual health profiles before contemplating giving a dog Xanax.

The combination of medications in a dog's regimen could also clash with Xanax. Discuss potential drug interactions with your veterinarian to prevent dangerous adverse reactions. Medications like antihistamines, certain antibiotics, or pain relievers may not work well when taken alongside Xanax for dogs. 

While Xanax can be a valuable tool in a veterinarian's arsenal for addressing canine anxiety, its application requires a nuanced understanding of the individual dog's health, potential interactions, and the specific nature of their anxiety triggers.

Relaxed dog sleeping in their human's bed

How does Xanax for dogs work?

Curious about the chemistry of Xanax for dogs? Xanax, or alprazolam, falls into the benzodiazepine category, a class of drugs that influences the central nervous system. When administered to dogs, it binds to GABA receptors, neurotransmitters that inhibit brain activity. This binding results in a calming effect, reducing overactive neurons firing in response to stressors like fireworks, car alarms, and all things that can get a dog feeling stressed.

Understanding how canine anxiety happens can help us understand how Xanax works. Anxiety triggers a surge in neurotransmitters like norepinephrine (responsible for alertness, arousal, and attention) and serotonin (responsible for mood, appetite, memory, etc.). Xanax for dogs eases anxiety by boosting GABA, a calming agent in the brain. This helps calm the heightened neural activity linked to anxiety.

The dosage, determined by a veterinarian, is critical (we’ll get to that later). Too little may render it ineffective, while an excess could lead to sedation or other adverse effects. It's a delicate balance, tailored to the specific needs of the individual dog.

It’s important to note that Xanax for dogs isn't a mere sedative––it’s a precise tool for balancing neural activity, helping to target and reduce canine anxiety. If you’re interested in trying Xanax for your dog, work with your veterinarian to build a tailored treatment plan with this medication.

Infographic showing potential uses of Xanax for dogs

What is Xanax used for in dogs?

Xanax can address a variety of behavioral challenges in our four-legged companions. Discuss your pet's triggers with your veterinarian if you think a medication like Xanax might help.

Loud noises

One of the most common stressors for dogs can be loud noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, and car alarms. Ask your vet about using Xanax for dogs as needed during these situational stressors.


Dogs get stressed during travel just like humans! Whether you’re driving long-distance or flying with your dog in a crate, travel stress and anxiety can be high for your furry companion. 

Multi-pet households

Using Xanax for dogs in multi-pet households, where tensions can be high, can be a harmonizing agent for stressed pets. Since Xanax is usually prescribed on a short-term basis, your veterinarian may recommend it as a temporary solution until your household finds a sustainable way to cope with the chaos.

Territorial behaviors

Pets with territorial behaviors can also find a tranquilizing ally in Xanax, offering relief for both the pet and their human companions.

Destructive behaviors

For dogs prone to excessive barking or destructive chewing, Xanax may be prescribed to curb these behaviors rooted in anxiety. 

New family members

Introducing a new family member–whether furry or human–can also be an adjustment for your pup, and Xanax helps take the edge off the stress associated with these major transitions.

Compulsive behaviors

Xanax can also be useful in cases of compulsive behaviors, like incessant licking or tail chasing, that have been diagnosed as anxiety behaviors by your veterinarian. 

Medical procedures

Dogs facing medical procedures or recovering from surgeries may also benefit from the anxiety-reducing effects of Xanax to help support a smoother, stress-free healing process.

What is the standard dosage of Xanax for dogs?

Can you give a dog Xanax on a daily basis? Or should you just use Xanax for dogs who need it on an as-needed basis? Xanax is designed for short-term use, because it has several behavioral and physical conditions that can make it incompatible for certain pets. If you feel your pet needs ongoing treatment for stress or anxiety, your veterinarian can help you develop long-term solutions.

Your veterinarian is the only person who can determine how much Xanax your dog needs, how often, and for how long. Talk to your vet if you think your dog needs medication for stress, anxiety, or behavioral issues.  

Any time a behavioral medication is recommended, behavioral therapy is needed as well. The use of both of these at the same time is the best way to find success in modifying your pets anxiety.

Common side effects of Xanax for dogs

Considering using Xanax for dogs? This medication can be a valuable tool for addressing canine anxiety on an as-needed basis, but first, you’ll need to get familiar with the potential side effects. 


Dogs may exhibit drowsiness as a side effect due to Xanax's calming impact on the central nervous system. This sedative effect, while intended to reduce anxiety, can occasionally tip the scales towards lethargy (low energy).

GI issues

Some pups may experience gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea as a result of taking Xanax. If this happens, contact your veterinarian for a dosage adjustment or alternate medication. 

Change in appetite

Changes in appetite, from increased hunger to a temporary loss of interest in food, might occur when your dog starts taking Xanax. Keep an eye on their eating habits during treatment and contact your vet if you notice any abnormal eating patterns.

Behavioral changes

Behavioral changes while on Xanax can vary from dog to dog, ranging from increased affection to disorientation. While these shifts are usually temporary, keep an eye out for these behaviors during the initial stages of treatment.

It's important to note that individual responses to Xanax will vary between dogs. Some dogs may sail through Xanax administration without a hitch, while others might experience side effects.

Alternatives of Xanax for dogs

Exploring options beyond Xanax for dogs? Veterinary science offers a variety of alternatives for addressing canine anxiety:

Behavioral therapy

The goal of behavioral therapy is to reshape problematic behaviors through positive reinforcement and desensitization, so that dogs can learn to better cope with stressors on their own. In cases where anxiety is a chronic concern, your veterinarian might suggest trying behavioral therapy before or in conjunction with medications like Xanax. 

Adaptil (DAP) diffusers

These diffusers emit synthetic pheromones that mimic a mother dog's calming scent, helping to create a serene environment that’s particularly beneficial in cases of separation anxiety.


This prescription medication, often used off-label for anxiety, influences serotonin levels to promote a calming effect. 

CBD products

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural alternative derived from hemp. Nervous about giving your dog CBD? Run the idea by your veterinarian to see if CBD treats and tinctures are a good option for your pet. 


Supplements like L-theanine, chamomile, or valerian root contain calming properties. While they’re not exactly a quick fix, they can contribute to long-term anxiety management by promoting a balanced mood.

Prescription antidepressants

Some veterinarians might prescribe antidepressant medications like fluoxetine, which helps increase serotonin in the brain, for dogs with chronic anxiety. As with any medication, antidepressants require consistent dosing and close monitoring for side effects.


Designed to provide gentle, constant pressure, these snug-fitting garments offer comfort during anxiety-inducing events like thunderstorms, fireworks, and more.

You may need to explore a few different options with your vet before finding the right treatment for your canine companion. Your vet can help tailor the plan to your dog's specific stress triggers and overall health, giving you a customized toolkit to keep them content and relaxed. 

Xanax is a control substance and requires special licensure by your veterinarian to be able to dispense it. Only your veterinarian can say if this medication is a good fit for your pup, so be sure to share your concerns with them to find a lasting solution to your pet's anxiety. 

This blog exists to provide general information and education about veterinary health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials is not intended as and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions, or make specific treatment recommendations through this blog or website.

If you suspect that your pet has a medical concern, you should consult with your veterinary health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website, or in any linked materials.

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Reviewed by a Vetnique Vet

Veterinarian Dr. Korin D'Ascenzo of Vetnique's Team of Vets

Dr. Korin D'Ascenzo, DVM

Growing up with Great Danes was one of the reasons why Dr. Korin D’Ascenzo became a vet. She graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London, UK, and has her own practice in Manor, PA.


Manor, PA

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