Antianxiety medication for dogs is generally prescribed and at times administered by veterinarians to cure the symptoms displayed by them. Here is a DogAppy article that gives you an overview on over-the-counter and natural medications.
Have you left your dog at home and come back to find your favorite pair of slippers chewed on? This could be a sign of separation anxiety and is a common issue faced by several dog owners. In medical parlance it is defined as, “… the fear or dislike of isolation which often results in undesirable behavior. Separation anxiety is one of the most common causes of canine behavioral problems” – Polin 1992; Voith and Borchelt 1985. Apart from this common cause for anxiety in dogs, factors such as loud noises caused due to thunderstorms or fireworks, severe weather changes, traveling or having to share the owner’s love with another pet can also lead to the dogs showing symptoms of severe anxiety and stress and other problems related to dog behavior.
Anxiety is usually marked by certain noticeable symptoms such as nervousness, hyperactivity, scratching, chewing, digging, excess barking or howling, salivation, abnormal urine marking, trembling or shivering, and destructive or aggressive behavior. If you observe these anxiety symptoms in your pet dog the first step would be to visit a veterinarian for a complete checkup. This will help rule out any medical problems that the dog may have.
Once the veterinarian is sure that the symptoms are triggered due to anxiety attacks, he/she may recommend behavioral modification exercises along with certain medication.
The two most commonly approved medications include clomipramine (trademarked as Anafranil and Clofranil) and fluoxetine (trademarked as Prozac and Sarafem). In fact, clomipramine or clomicalm as it is most commonly known, is one of the few prescription medications approved for treating anxiety symptoms in both humans and dogs. This tricyclic medication is known to help regulate serotonin levels (serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps transport brain signals throughout the body and is associated with a pleasant, relaxed sensation. The lack or reduction of serotonin function results in mental disorders such as depression and anxiety).
Both clomipramine and fluoxetine work as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and helps dogs in the regulation of their serotonin levels and relieving the symptoms. However, these drugs can cause a series of side effects which can affect your dog’s health; i.e. stomach issues or even an increased level of aggression.
Other drugs may include selegiline (trademarked as (Anipryl, L-deprenyl, Eldepryl, Emsam, and Zelapar), which is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This results in raising the dopamine levels in your dog’s body, and works to increase and improve the cognitive processes, which in turn helps to relieve the symptoms.
While the over-the-counter drugs do help in providing relief from the symptoms, it is important to note that these medications can result in certain side effects, such as diarrhea, vomiting, low blood pressure, dry mouth, and salivation. This makes natural antianxiety drugs for dogs a feasible option for treating depression and anxiety.
- Herbs: Herbs such as chamomile are mild and non-addictive natural medicines for treating anxiety. They help calm the nerves and induce sleep. Some herbs even contain nutrients that help boost and support your dog’s nervous system as well as relieve the dog’s anxiety. For example, the herb astragalus can be used continually to boost the dog’s immune system when he/she is under stress. In addition to this, oatmeal is known to have a calming effect on the nervous system and provide nutritional benefits.
- Homeopathy: Certain homeopathic remedies work well in treating canine anxiety. For example chamomilla, derived from chamomile, relieves anxiety, irritability, and restlessness or passiflora incarnata derived from the passion flower helps in calming frightened animals without sedating them. It is important that before you opt for any such remedy, a homeopathic veterinarian needs to be consulted for advice on the proper remedy and dosage for your dog.
- Nutritional Supplements: Amino acids such as L-theanine have been found to stimulate the production of alpha brain waves and create a state of deep relaxation. Found in tea plants, these acids have a calming effect on people and dogs. In addition to this vitamin B1 or thiamine and decapeptide, derived from the milk protein, casein, is known to affect the central nervous system and calm anxious animals.
- Flower Essences: Flower essences derived from extracts from certain flowers, plants, trees, and bushes provide remedies for various mental and emotional ailments. They also restore the energetic balance to your dog’s body and mind by removing negative energies. The Bach flower remedies formulated by Dr. Edward Bach from 38 healing plants have been found to have a balancing effect on negative states of mind in both humans and animals.
Although these medications may be effective in treating the symptoms in the short run, you should keep in mind that once the effect of the drug wears off, similar issues of dog behavior problems are likely to start. Therefore, efforts should be concentrated more on relieving stress in pets by behavior modification techniques. This process will teach your dog to stay calm as you leave, and while you are away. However, in case you use either of the medications, make sure that you consult a veterinarian for the appropriate instructions and dosage.