We likely don’t have to tell you that dogs are highly sensitive creatures. They can pick up on the owner’s emotions more than you may imagine. Additionally, dogs can also experience anxiety for reasons in their personal life, aside from their owner’s day-to-day stress. Everything from a new member of the household to traveling in the car can result in panic and thus, the associated side effects of one anxious pup.
As a pet owner, recognizing that (wo)man’s best friend isn’t feeling like the best version of themselves can be heart-wrenching. What can you do to ease their worry? What is causing it to develop? And how many torn up couches will it take to put an end to these panic attacks? Not knowing where else to turn, many pet owners find themselves taking their dog into the vet for additional help solving the matter.
Here’s where things can become troublesome. If your dog experiences anxiety, your vet may likely recommend Prozac for dogs. Prozac is known to help people suffering from anxiety, so why not use it to help Fido? However, in this article, we’ll cover why you may want to think twice before giving your beloved four-legged friend a medication like Prozac. We’ll also discuss the importance of pinpointing what is actually causing your dog’s stress rather than simply masking it with conventional medication. Finally. we’ll provide all the ways that pet owners can ease their dog’s anxiety in an all-natural, safe way. Let’s get to it!
What is Prozac for Dogs
You may be familiar with Prozac as it’s commonly prescribed for humans. Scientifically speaking, Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Medical physicians typically prescribe the drug to treat anxiety disorders and depression in people. After seeing the positive results the medication had for many human patients, veterinarians began to consider its effectiveness for our four-legged friends.
Now, Prozac for dogs is available through a prescription from your veterinarian. With that said, Prozac for dogs should only be given with guidance and approval by your licensed vet. Additionally, we feel that Prozac should only be considered after all other forms of anti-anxiety remedies have been exhausted. (More on that in a moment!)
What is Fluoxetine | Prozac Generic
Fluoxetine is the generic brand of Prozac. Therefore, depending on your insurance, Fluoxetine may be the choice that best suits your financial situation as the “brand name” of any medication tends to come with a significant price tag.
How Does Prozac Work
Prozac works by changing the brain’s action by manipulating the neurotransmitters in a certain manner. More specifically, Prozac delays the body’s reuptake of serotonin. (Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter that contributes to happy feelings and pleasant, stabilized emotions) Therefore, when it is released, the serotonin levels last longer. Essentially, Prozac works as a serotonin enhancer, thus reducing feelings of anxiety and depression. Experts have found that Prozac can cause the same effects in humans and dogs alike.
What is Prozac Used For
In people, Prozac is typically prescribed to manage the associated symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, in dogs, the reasons as to why Prozac may be prescribed are more specific.
Before we dive into the specifics of Prozac for dogs, we want to note that the medication should not be prescribed in an attempt to change behaviors that may annoy you, i.e. jumping on the couch or stealing food from the trash can. In other words, Prozac is not for problem behaviors, but rather solely for medically diagnosed conditions.
Again, pet owners should only administer Prozac under complete recommendation and guidance from their veterinary doctor. Never give your dog anti-anxiety medication that was formulated for human consumption. Never estimate the dosage that you think is appropriate. Prozac (along with the vast majority of other conventional medications) can have horrific adverse reactions if not given properly.
Prozac for Anxiety
Veterinarians often prescribe Prozac to dogs who experience high levels of anxiety. Like in people, anxiety can greatly affect your dog’s quality of life. An anxiety-ridden dog can also lead to destructive behaviors that can cause significant stress in their owner’s life.
Let’s discuss more specific anxiety-related reasons why your vet may prescribe Prozac for dogs.
The most common reason that vets prescribe Prozac for dogs is to manage the symptoms of separation anxiety. If you have a dog who experiences crippling anxiety the second you leave the house, you know how difficult it can be. The constant howling, the nonstop crying, not to mention… the destruction of your new rug. A dog with separation anxiety can take its toll on not only you, but your pup as well. Studies show that separation anxiety can truly affect the dog’s quality of life, especially if they are left on their own on a consistent basis. For this reason, vets often prescribe Prozac for dogs in order to help prevent immediate panic whenever they are left alone and help improve their overall stress levels.
Certain dogs, particularly those who have an abusive past, often have phobias towards new people. This can turn even the simplest task, like going for a walk, into a stressful ordeal for dogs and their owners. Furthermore, new house guests can cause an anxious dog to experience significant levels of stress that often result in unwanted behaviors. In these cases, vets may prescribe Prozac for dogs.
Speaking of phobias, many dogs have phobias when it comes to loud noises such as thunderstorms or fireworks. These phobias can cause massive behavioral changes that can be unpredictable.
While many vets may prescribe Prozac for dogs to help combat these fears, we don’t think it makes much sense. As we will soon discuss, Prozac isn’t a “quick fix.” It takes continued use in order to see results. Therefore, dogs will have to be on the medication on a long-term basis in order to help manage symptoms that may only appear once a month (depending on where you live).
Additionally, vets may prescribe Prozac for dogs to help reduce and control aggression. Again, it is important that your veterinarian properly diagnose the behavioral issue and that the dog isn’t acting out simply due to a lack of training.
Urine marking is often a sign of anxiety in dogs. It is also a sign of a lack of training. If your dog is urinating out of anxiety, Prozac may be able to help. However, again, it is incredibly important to understand why your dog is using the bathroom in unwanted areas (i.e inside your home). Prozac is not a remedy for obedience school.
Behaviors Developed from Past Abuse or Trauma
As we previously mentioned, some anxious behaviors develop from past abuse or trauma. When many dogs leave the kennel, particularly if they have been there for a long period of time, anxious tendencies ensue. The dog may become aggressive around food for fear of not knowing when their next meal will be. Often times, dogs will have phobias of loud noises, other animals, or strangers coming into the home. While these behaviors must be addressed individually in an appropriate manner, your vet may recommend Prozac in order to help the process along and put your dog’s mind at ease.
Understanding the Signs of Anxiety
Now, before we continue discussing Prozac for dogs, it is important that pet owners understand the signs of anxiety. Your dog can’t simply tell you that something is causing them an enormous amount of stress, but they can certainly show you. Let’s take a look at some of the telltale signs that your dog may be feeling anxious.
Barking & Howling
One of the most common signs of anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, is non-stop barking and howling once you leave the home. Many pet owners are unaware of their dog’s behavior unless they have a pet cam set up or, more likely, they receive a noise complaint from their neighbor. The barking and howling will often persist for the entire time you are away and is typically not provoked by anything other than the anxiety of being alone.
Urinating & Defecating
As we previously mentioned, unwanted urinating and defecating are two additional unpleasant signs of anxiety in dogs. Again, it is important to recognize whether your dog is using the bathroom inside the house due to anxiety or due to a lack of potty training.
Digging & Chewing
Digging, chewing, and ultimately destroying whatever they can in the house are also signs of anxiety in dogs. However, these behaviors are also signs of boredom. It is imperative that pet owners recognize whether their dog is experiencing high levels of stress or whether they simply don’t have anything better to do than dig a hole in the sofa.
Pacing, Hiding, & Escape Attempts
Many phobias, whether to new people, other animals, or loud noises, will often cause the dog to pace, hide, and try to escape. As you may imagine, it is incredibly important that pet owners tackle these symptoms of anxiety as they can prove to put the dog in a great deal of danger if overlooked. Imagine a dog who desperately wants to run out the door during every thunderstorm. Things can get scary very quickly.
Excessive Salivating & Licking
Two less known signs of anxiety are excessive salivating and licking. Pet owners who believe their dog may be experiencing stress should check for wet spots on their dog’s coat. Excessive licking can lead to the development of hot spots and skin infections which you’ll want to avoid at all costs.
Finally, one of the least pleasant signs of stress in dogs is coprophagia, or eating their own feces. We know… yuck.
Prozac Side Effects | Fluoxetine Side Effects
Now let’s get back on topic: Prozac for dogs and the side effects that all pet owners should be aware of.
First and foremost, all conventional medications come with a fair share of potential adverse reactions. It is impossible to get around this fact. When it comes to Prozac for dogs, the associated side effects are not only troublesome, but considered to be relatively common, particularly when the drug is first introduced.
One of the most common side effects of Prozac (Fluoxetine) is pruritus. Pruritus is defined as the severe itching of the skin. As you may imagine, constant itching and skin irritation can lead to a slew of problems. If the dog’s itching is relentless (as it often is), they can ultimately damage their skin, cause open wounds, and develop bacterial infections.
Strangely enough, the medication Prozac which is supposed to relieve anxiety can actually cause it to develop. You read that correctly. In some cases, Prozac can cause the dog’s high levels of stress to worsen.
In other cases, particularly if an overdose occurs, the dog can develop severe tremors and seizures. It’s possible for these side effects to develop immediately or over time. Therefore, it is imperative that pet owners always keep a close eye on their dog and monitor any changes that arise.
Prozac for dogs can also cause severe gastrointestinal upset including vomiting, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite. In some cases, these side effects resolve themselves over time. However, some dogs simply can’t handle the chemically-based drug and will have stomach issues no matter the dosage.
Additionally, while Prozac may be prescribed to reduce aggressive behavior, in some cases it can cause it to develop. Scary, right? Imagine hoping to relieve your dog of their anxiety only to completely alter their personality.
Like so many other conventional medications, constant usage will ultimately cause liver damage. It is important for dog owners to understand that the long-term use of any chemically-based drugs will always have its risks. When it comes to Prozac for dogs, many pet owners feel that the possible benefits don’t outweigh the potential harm.
Finally, some dogs experience insomnia when taking Prozac. It’s strange to think that a drug that is meant to calm stress levels can, in fact, cause the dog to be unable to sleep.
With that said, all dogs are different. If you choose to use Prozac for your dog, it is imperative to understand all of the possible risks. Additionally, if any side effects emerge, be sure to contact your veterinarian straight away.
Additional Prozac Precautions
It is also important for pet owners to understand that Prozac is known to have negative reactions when used in conjunction with certain medications. For this reason, if you choose to use Prozac to manage your dog’s anxiety, it is imperative that your veterinarian is implicitly aware of any other medicine that they are currently taking.
Known drug interactions include:
- Amitraz (including flea/tick collars and dips)
- MAO inhibitors (selegiline)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Additionally, the possible adverse reactions of pregnant dogs using Prozac have not been determined. Therefore, we strongly advise against it. Furthermore, Prozac should not be used for dogs who are lactating due to its ability to enter the breast milk.
Your veterinarian will provide you with an appropriate Prozac dosage based on your dog’s weight and the issue that the drug is being prescribed for. If you accidentally miss a dose, be sure to give it as soon as possible. However, never give your dog two doses at once.
Dangers of Dog Anxiety Medications
In addition to the aforementioned adverse reactions, we want to mention that there are dangers associated with all anxiety medications for dogs, not just Prozac. In many cases, pet owners report unwanted personality changes and excessive lethargy. It’s almost as if the drugs turn their beloved four-legged companion into an entirely different dog.
Additional Concerns Regarding Prozac for Dogs
Additionally. we want to reiterate that Prozac for dogs is not a quick fix. In most cases, the medication takes up to six weeks to begin working. Therefore, we don’t feel that it is the best option for dogs suffering from anxiety that only occurs every so often.
Also, pet owners should know that Prozac doesn’t work for every dog, even when administered appropriately. Therefore, you may be inadvertently harming your dog’s vital organs and causing unpleasant side effects for ultimately no reason at all.
Finally, it is of the utmost importance to do everything that you can to pinpoint exactly what is causing your dog’s high anxiety levels. So often, by simply removing the stressor, pet owners can rid the need for an anti-anxiety medication. Again, Prozac for dogs should never be used as a “band-aid.”
Additionally, countless pet owners are finding that there are all-natural alternatives that are equally as effective as Prozac. Our favorite? CBD oil for dogs.
CBD for Dogs
One of the most heavily studied uses of CBD oil is its incredible ability to reduce and prevent anxiety in dogs and people alike. In fact, dog owners report that CBD oil proves to be even more effective than several anti-anxiety medications that they have tried in the past. Additionally, CBD oil can be used on a daily basis without the worry of potential negative reactions because CBD for dogs doesn’t have any. You read that correctly. CBD oil for our four-legged friends has virtually zero side effects, differing it greatly than any conventional medication on the market. When it comes to easing your dog’s present anxiety as well as preventing it from developing, we highly recommend CBD oil for dogs.
Additionally, pet owners have the option of treating certain anxieties without drugs but rather with certain objects and clothing. For instance, many pet owners have found that a thunderjacket can significantly reduce their dog’s stress levels and phobias when it comes to loud noises.
Finally, we want to stress the underrated importance of exercise. Adding a morning walk or hiring a dog walker to come by mid-day can make an incredible difference in your dog’s stress levels.
Prozac for Dogs: The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, we know that your dog’s health and happiness means the world to you. Here at Simple Wag, we are all dog owners, so we know just how challenging it can be to understand what is going on with your four-legged companion. Furthermore, once you recognize that their anxiety levels are negatively impacting their life, knowing how to proceed can also be difficult. We wish that we could communicate that we have to go to work. We wish that we could let Fido know everything will be alright. Yet, it’s near impossible… especially when it comes to an anxiety-ridden pup. So, what do you do next?
As a responsible pet owner, it is imperative that you know all of the pros as well as the cons associated with any new medication, including Prozac for dogs. Yes, after a long introductory period, it is possible that Prozac may help your anxious dog, but at what cost? The fact that there is a safe, all-natural, effective alternative like CBD oil makes us so relieved. If so many pet owners are finding incredible results from CBD oil, wouldn’t you agree it’s worth a try?
We want to close by saying that we are by no means trying to negate the absolute importance of conventional medications. Who knows where we would be without the constant scientific advancements that are continuing to save lives every day. We are, however, encouraging our readers to do their homework when it comes to any new drug. If we know one thing for certain, these medications are not without substantial risk.
From all of us at SimpleWag, we sincerely hope your dog feels better soon.