Alternate names

Lunesta, Ambien, zolpidem, eszopiclone, zaleplon, Sonata

Toxicity to pets

Sleep aids are medications that are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. Lunesta® (eszopiclone) and Ambien® (zolpidem) are two common types used in human medicine. Sleep aids are benzodiazepines or non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and these drugs work similarly to Valium (benzodiazepine). While these drugs are designed to cause sleep and sedation in humans, they can have the opposite effects in dogs and cats. Sleep aids should never be given to pets without consultation with a veterinarian. Clinical signs of sleep aid poisoning in dogs and cats include severe sedation, severe agitation, hyperactivity, aggression, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, walking drunk, tremors, hyperthermia, and respiratory or cardiovascular depression. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure when ingested.

If you suspect your dog or cat ate a sleep aid, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately for life-saving treatment advice.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Severe sedation
  • Severe agitation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Aggression
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia
  • Walking drunk
  • Respiratory or cardiovascular depression

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The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.