While you may envy your dog’s life (sleeping, playing, bone-chewing, etc.), it’s important to remember that our pets can experience stress. Trauma, medical conditions and breed affect your dog’s temperament and can cause anxiety.
If your best friend is exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, including detachment, barking, chewing, shaking, aggression, hyperactivity or any combination of these in the form of panic attacks, seek the advice of your veterinarian in D’Iberville, MS. Your vet can recommend natural treatments, as well as medications that can help with anxiety.
If medication is the best solution for your pup, your vet will likely recommend a drug from one of the following categories. Each is prescribed based on the best fit for your dog’s symptoms, breed, and any other medical factors involved.
BZs are typically prescribed for dogs with noise-related anxiety issues. If your dog suffers from panic attacks during thunderstorms or fireworks, this family of drugs could help. They are fast-acting, with effects that wear off in a few hours. BZs can be given as needed or regularly and can be combined with other medications. If used as needed, it is important to give your dog the drug early, such as when a storm is approaching, and often, if you expect loud noises to continue throughout a day or night.
It is also important to note that these drugs are addictive. It is better to use as needed rather than on a regular basis, to avoid physical dependence. Common BZs include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and Clonidine.
Some cautions: Fear-aggressive dogs may be more likely to bite if given these drugs, since they lower inhibition.
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
This family of drugs is used to treat phobias, panic and anxiety disorders. Side effects can include loss of appetite, although this typically only lasts a few days. Sedation is the most common side effect. TCA’s can also cause bone marrow suppression. Start dosage as low as possible and work up from there based on your dog’s response. Your vet can do regular blood work to monitor blood marrow and other effects.
TCAs used for dogs include amitriptyline (Elavil) and clomipramine (Clomicalm). These drugs are typically better for ongoing issues such as separation anxiety or compulsive disorders, rather than reactive issues like noise-induced anxiety. It may take several weeks before you see noticeable results from these drugs. Faster responses may be achieved when combined with behavior modification therapy.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs, or antidepressants, are considered the safest group of drugs for dog anxiety. They are also stronger and more effective than TCAs. They help stabilize mood and are used to treat aggression, anxiety, panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Some behaviors are affected within a week, while others may require several months of treatment for results.
The most common SSRIs are fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil). Typical side effects of these drugs include sedation and upset stomach. Vets typically start with a low dose and increase after one month if needed.
Which drug is best for my dog?
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety, contact your veterinarian in D’Iberville, MS. The staff at D’Iberville Veterinary Hospital will work to discover the best treatment for your best friend. Contact us today.