Dogs on Drugs

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

 ″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.



Probiotics

Purchasing Probiotics for Dogs and Cats

Probiotics for Dogs and Cats: What Are They and How Do They Help?

Behavior & Mood

Bifidobacterium longum BL999 has been reported to help with behavior and mood. You may need to inquire of the manufacturer to determine strain.

Genus - Bifidobacterium

Species - longum

Strain - BL999

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

“Probiotics are beneficial strains of live microorganisms that help maintain healthy levels of gut-friendly bacteria in your pet’s digestive tract”

“Humans and dogs host very similar microbes, they are not exactly the same microbes, but very closely related strains of the same species.”  

Look for CFU (Colony Forming Units) which is a measure of viable microorganisms. The standard I use is a minimum of 1 billion for the primary microorganisms and a capsule or coated powder so the microorganisms are active in digestion. “Choose a probiotic with the highest CFU to make sure that you give your dog a diverse array of beneficial organisms in just one dose.”

Each microorganism has its own job to do so for specific purposes be sure to look for the correct strain.

Stress-Related Gastrointestinal Upsets and Diarrhea in Dogs.

(Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7) may help to prevent stress-related gastrointestinal upsets and diarrhea in dogs.

Probiotics during and after antibiotics

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum  

  • Bifidobacterium longum

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus

  • Streptococcus thermophilus

  • Bifidobacterium breve

Probiotics for Behavior / Mood

  • Bifidobacterium longum BL999

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum  

  • Lactobacillus casei

  • Bifidobacterium lactis

  • Bifidobacterium animalis

  • cats for stress

 For Stress & Diarrhea in Cats & Dogs

  •  Enterococcus faecium SF68

38 Billion CFU – 14 Effective Probiotic Strains

Probiotics and behavior

Effects of Varying Doses of a Probiotic Supplement Fed to Healthy Dogs Undergoing Kenneling Stress

http://www.jarvm.com/articles/Vol10Iss3/Vol10%20Iss3%20Kelley.pdf

Dog and human digestive systems have similarities

https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/7666-dog-and-human-digestive-systems-have-similarities