HOMESKOOLING 4 DOGS

               Building Trust, Respect, and Desire

Dogs on Drugs


″Pharmacological therapy for behavior problems in dogs should always be conducted only as a last resort and always under the direct supervision of a veterinary behaviorist″.

The Dog: Its Behavior, Nutrition, and Health Second Edition by Linda P. Case

 

Behavioral pharmacology with animals differs from other areas of pharmacology because animal behavior seems to be more prone to environmental influences, rather than pathophysiology. There is no reason to believe that a neurotransmitter imbalance is commonly the cause for most problem behaviors.

Rather than seek out a drug for a quick fix, the owner should seek out a professional who understands dogs and has the skills to bring about positive results. Using psychotropic drugs to correct behavior should always be a last resort and always under the direct supervision of a veterinary behaviorist.

Since the majority of problem behaviors are not caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance, these problems can be resolved without the necessity for drug treatment. Problems behaviors such as, anxiety, barking, hyperactivity, separation anxiety, whining or any other behavior considered disruptive should first be addressed by a knowledgeable individual who understands a dog′s development and behavior.

When drugs are used the common approaches are typically to assist a behavior modification program that theoretically could work alone, or to correct an existing physiological abnormality such as deficiency in a neurotransmitter system. 

If drugs are used, they should be used in conjunction with a behavior modification program. Drugs themselves should not be considered a quick fix.

There are no guarantees that a drug will control the problem behavior for months or years. 

The use of anxiolytic or anti-anxiety drugs with dogs that displays aggression can have the affect of diminishing fear, leading to a dog that is more aggressive.  

Many dogs that carry the label ″behavior problems″ are often under exercised, full of energy, bored, and not provided the proper structure, discipline, and training.    

Successful behavior modification depends upon accurately identifying the reason for the behavior. We start by looking at the behavior patterns exhibited by a specific dog in a specific circumstance to determine the function of the behavior. We also look for contributing factors to the behavior within the environment of the dog and the behavior of the owners.

Remember, dogs cannot complain of side effects, they simply suffer. A dog on drugs is not better behaved, they are drugged. 

References

Canine and Feline Behavior Therapy Second Edition       Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart, Melissa J. Bain


The Dog : Its Behavior, Nutrition, & Health  Second Edition     Linda P. Case


Serotonin Enhancers

Serotonin tends to have calming and mood elevating effects. Believed to be useful in elevating serotonin above normal to facilitate behavior modification programs.  

 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Reasons for Use:

Anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and some reports of use in aggression.

Medication

             Fluoxeline (Prozac)

Sertraline (Zoloft)

Paroxetine (Paxil)

            Concerns with Use:

There is no reason to believe that a serotonin deficiency is commonly the cause of most problem behaviors.

Amount of time needed to see significant changes in behavior has not been determined in animals.

Commitment to treat up to 6 weeks to see the full effect of the drug.

Side effects reported with use.

 

Serotonin Enhancers Tricyclic Antidepressants

Reasons for Use:

Anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and some reports of use in aggression.

Medication

Clomipramine (Clomicalm)

            Amitriptyline (Elavil)

            Concerns with Use:

There is no reason to believe that a serotonin deficiency is commonly the cause of most problem behaviors.

Can lower the seizure threshold, and should be avoided in animals with a seizure disorder.  

Side effects reported with use.

 

Azapirones

Reasons for Use:

Anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and some reports of use in aggression.

Medication

            Buspirone (Buspar)

            Concerns with Use:

Animals can become more aggressive, possibly due to reduced inhibition of fear-related aggression.

Facilitates the release of dopamine which may contribute to an increase of aggression.   

Side effects reported with use.

 

Benzodiazepine Derivatives

Reasons for Use:

Anxiety (primarily episodic or panic attacks) and seizure control.

Because of its rapid onset of antianxiety influences within a day or two it is used for dogs fearful of automobile rides, reduction of anxiety to firecrackers.

Medication

Diazepam (Valium)

                        Alprazolam (Xanax)

                        Clonazepam (Kolnopin)

            Concerns with Use:

Can cause disinhibition of aggression which is a concern with animals known to be aggressive.

Possibility of liver toxicity.

Can cause an increase in appetite, which can be a problem for dogs already overweight.

Side effects reported with use.




"exercise increases serotonin so dramatically that its action on mood is even more powerful than the antidepressant Prozac"   Dr. John Ratey