Diazepam

BRAND NAME: VALIUM

AVAILABLE IN  
2 mg, 5 mg & 10 mg
TABLETS       
(and injectable)    

USES OF THIS MEDICATION

There are many uses for this medication since it is effective as an anti-anxiety medication, a muscle relaxant, an appetite stimulant, and a seizure control drug.The injectable form of diazepam is often used in anesthetic protocols.

  • Examples of more specific uses for diazepam include:
     
  • Treatment of seizure disorders (as an injectable, anal suppository, or even nasally during an emergency or orally for long term seizure management in cats).
     
  • Treatment of "Scotty cramp" and other muscle cramping diseases.
     
  • Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
     
  • Post urinary blockage in the cat.
     
  • Appetite stimulation especially in the cat.
     
  • Treatment of inappropriate urination due to territorial anxiety in the cat.
     
  • Panic disorders such as thunderstorm or fireworks phobias in dogs.
     
  • As a muscle relaxant in snail bait poisoning or in other situations of extreme involuntary muscle contraction.

HOW THIS MEDICATION WORKS

Despite the widespread use of this medication in the human field, it is still unclear exactly how this medication is able to affect the brain. It is a psychoactive drug of the benzodiazepine class. It was one of the first anti-anxiety drugs used but because of its sedating properties it is best used for short term situations rather than long term anxiety states.

SIDE EFFECTS

As with many medications, it is difficult to sort out the side effects from the desired effects since there are many uses for this drug. Diazepam is rarely used as a tranquilizer for animals as it simply not very long lasting and not very reliable; still, undesired sedating effects are certainly reported when this medication is used. Some animals paradoxically get hyperexcited on diazepam.

Diazepam is sometimes used as an appetite stimulant but its sedating properties preclude it from being the drug of choice for this purpose. See the area on anorexia for better options.

In the cat, cases of liver failure have been reported after several days use of diazepam. Since this medication has many valid uses in cats, it is important to check a cat's liver enzymes prior to the institution of therapy and again a few days after starting therapy. Any increase in enzymes precludes the use of oral diazepam in such a patient.

INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS

Diazepam may have a stronger than expected effect if used in conjunction with cimetidine (an antacid more commonly known as Tagamet®), omeprazole (an antacid more commonly known as Prilosec®), erythromycin (an antibiotic), ketoconazole (an antifungal drug), fluoxetine (an anti-anxiety medication), or propranolol (a heart medication).

Antacids may slow the onset of effect of diazepam.

The use of diazepam may increase the effect of digoxin (a heart medication) and of amitriptyline (an anti-anxiety medication).

CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS

This medication should be stored at room temperature and protected from light.

Urine dipsticks that measure glucose may be falsely negative in patients taking diazepam.

Discontinuing diazepam therapy abruptly may lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms similar to those that occur in humans.

Diazepam should not be used in early pregnancy; birth defects have been reported.

Diazepam also crosses readily into the milk of nursing mothers and may tranquilize nursing young. Diazepam should thus not be used in nursing mothers.

DIAZEPAM IS A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
AND SPECIFIC RECORDS MUST BE KEPT BY DOCTORS PRESCRIBING IT.

Page last updated: 12/31/2013