How to Sedate a Dog at Home for Grooming

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It has been a while, and your dog now needs a bit of grooming. Trimming their fur and clipping their toenails seems like a pretty easy job until it isn’t. Our furry friends don’t just sit still and let us do what we need; it is not as ideal as that.

Dogs will try to run away, wriggle their way out, whine, and bark, which will make the job very difficult for us. With our dog so restless, how will we get the job then? To make the job easier, pet owners turn to tranquilizers.

There are sedative pills available that you can use to calm your dogs. The safest sedative pills are the ones recommended by your veterinarian. But there are also other natural pet sedatives you can use under supervision.

We are here to help you with how to sedate a dog at home for grooming. This way, you can groom your dogs at home with ease.

Why sedation for dogs?

Dogs can be quite restless when you groom them. It would be impossible to expect them just to sit still the whole while that you are fiddling with their fur and toes. This makes the whole grooming process next to impossible.

You might also end up hurting your dog or yourself by accident in the process. That is why pet owners choose to sedate their dogs when grooming.

Sedation is one way of calming your dogs. When you sedate your dog, it does not mean that they are bad. Dogs just tend to move around, especially under stressful conditions, and grooming would be one of them. Some dogs are more aggressive and active compared to others. That is why they need to be sedated to help them relax throughout the whole process and for you to get the job done without a hitch.

Are sedatives safe for dogs

Are sedatives safe for dogs?

Yes, sedatives are safe for our furry friends. You can find many pet sedatives and over-the-counter medications that you can use to calm your dogs. These sedatives generally function to calm your dog’s nerves. Other sedatives might have some side effects, which we will discuss in a few, but generally, sedatives are safe for dogs and are not addictive.

However, it is best to consult with your veterinarian before deciding to sedate your dog for grooming. Sedatives should be given as provided by a veterinarian’s prescription and advice.

You will be putting your dog’s safety at risk if you give them a sedative without knowing everything about it. Veterinarians will give you the proper prescription, instructions on administering the sedatives, and the doses you will need.

What are some sedatives for dogs?


Acepromazine is among the most used sedative for dogs. It is a tranquilizer that blocks dopamine receptors responsible for controlling bodily movements and responses. It weakens certain functions of the central nervous system, which reduces anxiety and helps the dogs relax.

You can give the sedatives through injection. However, it may also produce some inconsistent effects and may make your dog hyperactive rather than relaxed.


Benadryl, also called Diphenhydramine, is an over-the-counter medication classified as an antihistamine. It functions mainly for treating motion sickness and allergies. But it is also effective as a sedative for dogs. It is given to them orally by mixing it with their food.

It then produces drowsiness in dogs to make them sit still during grooming. There are, however, also side effects such as dryness of mouth, hypersalivation, increased heart rate, etc.

General Anesthesia

In severe cases where a dog is completely restless and hyperactive, general anesthesia can be used as a sedative for dogs. It is too much for simple grooming, but there are just very aggressive and uncontrollable dogs. The anesthesia will work as it is – to make the dog completely oblivious during the whole process.

I will give my pet some sedative – what should I expect?

I will give my pet some sedative

Once the sedative kicks in, expect that your dog will be relaxed and tired at the same time. The purpose of a sedative is exactly that – to calm the nerves of your dog. They will be less active for the whole time the sedative is working.

For an hour or two, you may find your dog just lazily lying around or sleeping for some time as an effect of the sedative. While the sedative is still in their system, your dogs would be drowsy for some time.

You must watch them carefully to make sure that they don’t get into any accidents. When the sedative starts to wear off, your pet will also gradually become more active and alert.

Are there instances when the sedatives won’t work?

Yes, there are times that sedatives may not work on your dog. Most likely, this is because your pet’s anxiety level is very high. Sedatives don’t work well if they are given when your pet is already hyperactive and worked up.

Sedatives would sometimes have inconsistent effects, and rather than relaxing them, and it will make them more active.

Is walking my dog good practice to sedate them?

You might not be too eager about giving some drugs to your dog just to groom them, and there are, in fact, more natural calming alternatives you can do to get your dog relaxed and calm during a grooming session. One of the common practices of which is to take your dog on a walk. It is indeed a good practice and recommended by experts as an alternative to drug-related sedation.

Taking your dog outside for a walk will relax them and tire them out at the same time. Once you are back from your walk, your dog will want to take some rest. While they are taking their rest, that would be a good time to start grooming them while staying still.

What are other ways I can do to sedate my dog?

There are many other alternatives you can do to sedate your dog other than giving them sedative drugs. We found some tricks that may work for your furry friend to calm them down for that needed grooming session:

Physical activities

Do some physical activities with your dogs before your grooming session to tire them out. Other than walking them, you can also play with them for some time. Any kind of physical activity will do.

Make them play a game of catch. Or you can just let them run around in the neighborhood for a while. They will need to rest after that and will stay still for some time.

Train them to love grooming

Train them to love grooming

You can try to condition your dog into relating grooming with a positive thing. You can do this by giving them treats and praises when brushing their fur or cutting their nails. This would make them think that grooming is a good thing, and they will get a reward when they do it.

Do the conditioning gradually, from shorter grooming sessions to full-blown sessions.

Give them their favorite toy while grooming them

Giving your pet their favorite toy while grooming will help them calm during the session. Their favorite toy would serve as both their distraction and source of comfort.

The dog will be more focused on the toy rather than what you are doing with his fur. A treat or two is also a nice distraction.

Pet them from time to time while grooming

Your dog loves your pats and touches. A simple pat from you would help calm your dog down. It will help reduce their anxiety and stress during those seemingly long grooming sessions.

It is a simple gesture but would work.


As much as we humans enjoy aromatherapy because it helps us relax, it is the same with dogs. One of the oils with soothing effects is Lavender oil.

Just rub some of it into the back of their head. The soothing oils will work their magic and will help soothe your pet, keeping them calm. You can also try lighting some aroma candles to create a more relaxing atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

Grooming your dog is not an easy task when your lovely pooch would not sit still. That is why we turn to use sedatives or other calming alternatives. Sedative drugs are safe for dogs.

But as we mentioned, sedation can be done not only using medicines but also activities that can help improve the mood of your pup and help them relax.

At this point, you now know how to sedate a dog at home for grooming. We hope that your next grooming session would go very well. In any case, you have to pay attention to your dog’s attitude towards grooming and help them develop a more positive attitude towards this activity.

Please do not be too harsh on them when they refuse to let you. Be patient and let them adapt to your grooming session gradually over time.

Rita Wagener
Rita is a resident paw expert at Pet Keepers. A registered & licensed dog trainer, she also has a degree in animal nutrition, and runs her own dog training course.

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