Diazepam (Valium) is a fast acting, powerful anticonvulsant, that is extremely effective at stopping cluster seizures or status epilepticus. Unfortunately diazepam has a very short half life and when given as a daily medication, dogs can develop a tolerance to it's anti-seizure activity. Therefore, it's use is limited to the treatment of cluster seizures and to stop status epilepticus.
Veterinarians typically administer diazepam intravenously to quickly stop a cluster of seizures, however, intravenous injections are not practical for home use. In 1995 Dr. Michael Podell researched the use of diazepam administered rectally and found it to be highly effective in stopping cluster seizures. For dogs that have clusters of seizures, diazepam injectable solution (5mg/ml) is administered with a "tom-cat" or urinary catheter per rectum immediately after a generalized seizure and can be used up to three times in 24 hours, if the seizures continue. If your vet has prescribed valium to be administered per rectum, please click here for instructions on how to draw the valium into the syringe and insert the catheter.
As you can see by the following chart, diazepam given per rectum takes significantly less time to be effective than other forms of the same drug.
Doses: Every dog is different, and your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on the dose of diazepam required. Studies have found that .05 to 1 mg/kg for dogs that are not on Phenobarbital and 2 mg/kg for dogs who are taking Phenobarbital are effective doses when administered per rectum. Your veterinarian may adjust that dose based on your dog's reaction to valium.
Storing diazepam: Liquid diazepam should always be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Liquid diazepam should not be stored in pre-filled syringes because the plastic may absorb the diazepam. Please ask your pharmacist how you should store diazepam gel or valium suppositories.
Paradoxical Reactions: Some dogs have an abnormal reaction to valium and rather than sedating them, valium will make them extremely agitated. For these dogs it may not be the best choice for treating clusters. Please be sure to tell your veterinarian if your dog has an adverse reaction to valium. Other medications or combinations of medications that may be used to stop clusters are Clorazepate, Clonazepam, higher doses of Phenobarbital or Neurontin. The right choice for your dog depends on how close together the seizures are as most of these medications will take longer to be effective.
The use of
diazepam per rectum at home for the acute management of cluster seizures in
dogs; J Vet Intern Med 1995 Mar; 9(2):68-74, Podell, M
©2003 -2009 Canine Seizures All rights reserved
Last Updated August 2009