Stress is very much a part of our daily lives. So are our pets. Should you consider putting your dog on Prozac?
Given such a high prevalence of stress and mental illness in life in general, saving your pets from catching your anxiety or overall stress is often inevitable. It is only natural that a dog may develop fear or anxiety over the same issues that affect its owners. Moreover, dogs not only develop anxiety due to their owner’s behavior but also due to some other underlying issues such as fear, abandonment, loud noises, being around strangers, or some other medical condition.
If you feel that your canine is experiencing anxiety that is reflecting in its behavior, it is time that you consult a veterinary behaviorist. Along with a few behavior management tips, your consultant might recommend the use of Prozac, an antidepressant drug. In the post below, you will learn more about Prozac and how it affects the behavior of your pet. Let’s get started.
Prozac, generic fluoxetine, is an antidepressant medicine that is recommended to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression among both humans and dogs. However, the dosage differs. It is a typically SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) that inhibits the body to reabsorb serotonin. When the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enhances mood, remains high in the brain, it elevates your mood. The mode of action of Prozac remains the same when prescribed to dogs.
Now that you know how Prozac works, it is critical to know when your dog needs anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication.
If you notice any new and unusual behavior of your pet that previously did not exist, make sure you consult a veterinary behaviorist as soon as possible. Your consultant will first rule out the possibility of all physical health conditions. Allergies and pain anywhere in the body (particularly due to osteoarthritis) can trigger anxiety among dogs. In case, there are no physical health conditions that trigger anxious behavior, your veterinary behaviorist will assess the environmental factors and check with the owner to get a history of this condition. Your behaviorist will determine how the dog behaves in front of strangers and how it reacts to loud noises. They will also ask questions pertaining to the duration since you have started to notice a change in your pet’s behavior.
Once your behaviorist has all the relevant information, they will recommend a treatment plan that will include the use of medications along with behavior management. Dogs with varying levels of anxiety will need a different group of medication. However, all types of medicines are targeted towards enhancing mood.
In case of mild anxiety, naturally calming artificial hormones that can have a calming effect on dogs. These medicines are often available either in the form of a spray (such as Adaptil pheromone spray) or in the form of a chewable supplement (such as Anxitane S).
For dogs that have severe anxiety, your veterinary behaviorist may recommend the use of fluoxetine that is typically available in the form of Prozac. They may recommend some other psychotropic medications including Lexapro and Zoloft that are used to treat symptoms of depression among dogs. An FDA approved form of fluoxetine that is specifically made for dogs is available as a drug called Reconcile.
While Prozac or other antidepressant drugs are often used to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression among dogs, medication alone is not sufficient. As a pet parent, you will need to work on identifying the underlying causes that trigger anxiety among your pets. Moreover, you will have to find ways to modify the behavior. While medication will make your job easy as it aids in facilitating the change, medication alone is not enough. You will have to spend more time with your pet, make sure they get enough opportunities for outdoor adventures and you can also make sure of dog training programs.
An important thing to remember is you should never self-medicate your dog with any medication including anti-anxiety medications. Make sure you consult the veterinary behaviorist and they will guide you regarding how to go about the treatment.
Once your veteran recommended Prozac, it can take up to 4 weeks before Prozac can begin to work on the neurotransmitters and you can see improvement in your pet’s behavior. Use of Prozac produces favorable results in around 70% of the dogs, however, in the remaining cases, your dog might need to switch to different anti-depressant medications such as Lexapro or Zoloft.
A follow up is often required and typically, your veterinary behaviorist will schedule a follow up around 8 weeks after the start of medication. Again, they will inquire the pet owner regarding the improvement in symptoms. Moreover, they will discuss other aspects of the treatment plan as well.
Just like any medication, Prozac comes with its potential side effects. Most dogs who take Prozac experience gastrointestinal discomfort along with other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and lack of appetite. However, these side effects are generally short-lived and subside on their own in a day or two.
Dogs too can have mental health problems and there is no reason why you shouldn’t opt for an anti-anxiety medication like Prozac for your pet. After all, only with a mentally and physically healthy pet, you can live a fun-filled life. However, it is critical that you check with a registered veterinary behaviorist before you start any anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication.
by Bobby J Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™ .
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