Anxiety Treatments for Dogs

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Like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety.
Like humans, dogs can suffer from anxiety. (Image: black dog image by Stefan Andronache from Fotolia.com)

Anxious dogs not only are unhappy dogs, they can make for unhappy owners. Whether it's from separation or something else, anxiety often causes dogs to act out. They may bark uncontrollably, urinate or defecate indoors, chew themselves or household items or be very hyper. Some medications can help control your dog's anxiety, no matter what is making him anxious. See your veterinarian to make sure anxiety is causing the behavior and not some other medical disorder. Also talk to your veterinarian about which medication is appropriate for your dog and about the proper dosage.

Clomipramine

Clomipramine, which is sold as Clomicalm, works on neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin plays a role in fear and anxiety while norepinephrine deals with learning, memory and behavior. Clomicalm blocks the uptake of both chemicals in the brain, causes increased levels of serotonin, which reduced distress in dogs. An increase of norepinephrine can stimulate learning, which may improve behavior. Common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy.

Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine is an anxiety medication used in both dogs and people. For people it is sold as Prozac, while for dogs it is a chewable flavored tabled called Reconcile. It raises the amount of serotonin in the brain and helps control anxious behavior. Side effects can include excessive panting, lethargy, hyperactivity and aggression, among others.

Behavior Modification

If you don't want to medicate your pet, or your veterinarian doesn't believe it's necessary, try behavior modification to help your dog with her anxiety. Your vet or an animal trainer can help you choose modifications specific for your pet, depending on her behavior. Examples are to avoid rewarding attention-seeking behavior, ignore your dog before you depart, confine your dog in a safe place and to act low-key when you return. Results from behavior modification can take weeks or months.

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