How Much Does Sedating a Dog Cost?

dog sleeping

Sedation means using anesthesia to suppress nervous function and lower pain sensation. Some forms of sedation merely calm anxiety, while others cause unconsciousness. At some point in your dog’s life, it may need to be sedated for a common procedure or a behavioral issue like stress-induced aggression. Whether your pet is going under for a crucial procedure, minor grooming, or episode of anxiety, we will help you understand dog sedation costs and how they vary between situations.

In this article, we’ll answer these questions: 

  • What does dog sedation cost?
  • When is sedation necessary?
  • What alternatives are available?
  • Does pet insurance cover sedation?

Breakdown: Dog Sedation Costs

On average, vets charge $50-$75 to sedate a small dog and $100-$200 to sedate a large dog. Sedation costs are dependent on the animal’s weight, which is why the cost can vary so much. Costs also vary based on the type of sedative used. We will dive into these factors more below.

Typical Costs Associated With Dog Sedation

Dogs are typically sedated in these scenarios:

  • The dog is undergoing a procedure and is sedated to stay still and not feel pain.
  • The dog suffers from anxiety and needs relief during triggering situations.

Anesthesia administered at the vet’s office is typically much pricier than the methods of sedation you administer to your pet at home. Sedation at the vet’s office usually entails preoperative blood work and physical examination, general anesthesia injection, IV catheter, IV fluids, anesthetic maintenance, monitoring throughout the procedure, and postoperative care and medication – all of which are included in the bill.

Costs by Top Breeds

Smaller dogs cost less than larger dogs to sedate simply because less materials are used. If your dog needs a prescription sedative for anxiety, the vet will base the dosage on body weight.

Acepromazine, a common preanesthetic, is typically dosed 0.25-1 milligram per pound of body weight when delivered in pill form. In this case, you might give your 25-pound dog one 25 milligram tablet per dose. A 50-pound dog might need two tablets to achieve a similar effect.

Here are some estimates of how anesthetic operation costs* vary by dog size. We have chosen a few popular breeds to give you a better idea of how much sedating your furry friend might cost at this clinic in Los Angeles, CA:

Size/Breed

Neuter Cost

Spay Cost

10-lb Dachshund

$415

$440

40-lb Border Collie

$470

$500

70-lb German Shepherd

$500

$525

100-lb Great Dane

$550

$580

A comprehensive dental cleaning costs $200 without anesthesia. With anesthesia and dental X-rays, the same service costs about $800.

*These prices include the cost of pre-op blood work, general anesthesia, IV catheter, IV fluids, and post-op meds.

Minimum Costs Associated

As we mentioned, sedation can mean different things. For separation anxiety or fear of loud noises, your vet may prescribe sedatives to treat your dog at home.

Here are some common prescription sedatives the vet could prescribe your pup:

Medication

Dosage (per tablet)

Price (per 30 tablets)

Acepromazine

25 milligrams 

$12

Fluoxetine

20 milligrams 

$4

Trazodone

100 milligrams

$6

Gabapentin

600 milligrams 

$9

If your dog won’t take pills, there are other options for at-home treatment. For example, you can purchase an injectable version of acepromazine for $23 per 50-milliliter vial. Trazodone comes in a meat-flavored oral liquid medication that costs $50-$90 per vial, depending on your dog’s prescribed dosage.

If you want to try calming your dog without prescriptions, you can try over-the-counter and herbal remedies instead. These options typically have a gentler effect and are more cost-effective. 

Here are the average costs of some common over-the-counter sedatives:

Medication

Price

Melatonin

$10-$60

Hemp

$10-$60

Benadryl

$6-$10

Maximum Costs Associated 

While the anesthesia itself may cost anywhere from $50-$200, other procedures are in place to ensure your pet is safely sedated. In addition to a pre-op physical exam and blood work, your dog will require an intravenous catheter, IV fluids, anesthetic gas, and monitoring throughout the sedation process. 

You must also factor in the cost of the procedure your pet is being sedated for. Banfield Pet Hospital lists the following prices for common anesthetic procedures:

Procedure

Price

Dental cleaning

$312

Neuter

$358-$417

Spay

$382-$504

Sedation for more critical surgical procedures or those done on pets with a multitude of health problems will cost more by default. In these situations, the dog would need specific anesthetics and more monitoring throughout the procedure. General anesthesia for high-risk situations like these can cost up to $1,000.

Additional Expenses

Before your pet is sedated with anesthesia, it will undergo a physical exam and testing to ensure the anesthesia won’t have any adverse effects. In some situations, your dog may undergo blood testing, urine testing, X-rays, or electrocardiograms before sedation. All of these steps are taken to make sure your pet doesn’t have any conditions that will affect how the anesthesia works. Any testing or exam fees that accompany your dog’s sedation will be added to the bill. 

Here are price estimates for common tests:

Test

Price

Pre-anesthetic blood work

$150

Urinalysis

$70

X-rays

$150-$250

Hyperactive, anxious, or aggressive dogs can also undergo sedation for routine vet visits, grooming, and nail trimming. The cost of sedation at the groomer can cost anywhere from $45-$100, depending on your dog’s weight.

When Is Sedation Necessary?

Some dogs suffer from high anxiety, which negatively affects their quality of life and sometimes even their safety. Dogs might benefit from sedation if they suffer from severe separation anxiety, stress during storms, or fear during wellness checkups and grooming appointments. As a pet owner, it’s crucial that you understand your dog’s anxious behaviors so you can offer comfort and relief when possible. Along with well-known signs like a tail tucked between the legs and trembling, these additional symptoms may indicate your pup’s anxiety:

  • Crouching/cowering
  • Aggression
  • Bathroom accidents
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Wide eyes
  • Excessive barking
  • Unusual bad behavior

It seems obvious that dogs need anesthesia to inhibit pain during medical procedures, but some dogs need sedation for routine services like grooming, teeth cleaning, and nail trimming. Dogs who get anxious or scared during such services might squirm too much or exhibit aggression towards groomers and vet technicians. In these instances, sedation simplifies the process and ensures the safety of everyone involved. 

Are There Alternatives To Sedating Your Dog?

For dogs suffering from long-term problems like separation anxiety, behavior therapy is an alternative to sedation. Some dog owners administer medication at the start of therapy to help ease their dogs into potentially stressful situations. 

If your dog experiences fear and anxiety of loud noises like fireworks and thunder, a weighted blanket or ThunderShirt could be a good investment. These products mimic the feeling of being swaddled, so your pet feels safe and secure during triggering situations.

While you might be tempted to sedate your dog for air travel, this is not a good idea. The change in altitude pressure can cause respiratory problems in sedated pets, especially breeds already susceptible to breathing problems. Sedatives can also make your dog unbalanced and dizzy, which can cause a panic attack if they are stuck in a small carrier or unfamiliar setting. 

Instead of sedating your dog for flight, the best option is to train it in its travel carrier ahead of time. If your pet is already comfortable in its carrier, it is less likely to panic when put inside, whether on a bus, airplane, or in your living room.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Sedation Costs? 

Pet insurance is designed to cover your dog’s unexpected injuries and illnesses. Predictable services like vaccinations, spaying and neutering, routine dental cleanings, and nail trimmings aren’t typically covered. If the vet prescribes a sedative to treat an unexpected injury, your pet’s health insurance will probably cover it. The same goes for the cost of anesthesia used in an unexpected surgery.

Keep in mind that some providers offer wellness exam add-ons for a higher premium. If your dog needs sedation for routine appointments, choosing a plan with higher coverage and more add-ons may be a good choice.

Final Thoughts

As a loving pet parent, you want your dog to live free of pain and stress. Unfortunately, pain and stress do affect our dogs, and we must find ways to help them. Now that you’ve learned how much dog sedation costs, you are better equipped to provide your dog safe veterinary care that improves its quality of life. Whether in the vet’s office or at home, you have treatment options and knowledge of how costs can vary from case to case.