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Anxiety in Dogs, Prozac for Pets? What to do if your Dogs Anxiety takes Over!
Anxiety In some way or another affects many dogs. If its minor and dogs display signs of potential aggression but do not act upon it many pet parents try and avoid triggers..
Dogs have very similar anxiety that we have and it can come from an abusive former family, living on the streets, genetics that causes stressful repetitive behavior and it is even suggested that dogs can have serotonin imbalances just like us causing depression.
Dogs live a very short lifespan in comparison to ours, so we want to give them us as much joy as they give us and the least amount of stress throughout their lives.
Some of our very own medications are being off-labeled or FDA approved to combat depression and anxiety in dogs. These medications are off putting to some and helpful to others.
Are African Wild Dogs sitting on a shrink’s couch, discussing their family problems and then getting prescribed Xanax?
If your dog is displaying fear, signs of aggression, unusual repetitive behavior or destroying property the first step is to seek out a trainer or behaviorist to see if behavior modification or training might be the solution.
Some folks who have exhausted all training and behavior modification options and their dog is still aggressive or destructive, have relinquished their dogs to shelters. In extreme cases of aggression others have had to euthanize their beloved dogs. Before this would happen a Veterinary Behaviorist would suggest medication with behavior modification.
6 Types of Common Dog Anxiety
Canine Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is similar to OCD in people with dogs displaying compulsive behaviors including lick dermatitis, flank sucking, pacing, circling, incessant or rhythmic barking, fly snapping or chasing unseen objects, freezing and staring, polydipsia (excessive drinking), sucking, licking, or chewing on objects (or owners), tonguing or licking the air and other forms of self-mutilation.
Fear of unknown People can be caused because a dog does not know the person and their intent, or it might be caused due to something that you and I might find trivial like a person’s cane, hat, hoodie or sunglasses which can cause fear and aggression in dogs.
Separation Anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from the people they're attached to. This condition can lead to excessive barking, destruction, urination or defecation, panic, Chewing, digging, attempting to escape which can cause bodily harm.
Storm Phobia can be caused due to anxiety or fear to wind, rain, thunder, lightning, and other associated stimuli, including barometric pressure changes, the “smell of rain,” static electricity, and even time of day. One study demonstrated a 207% increase in salivary cortisol levels after exposure to simulated sounds of a thunderstorm. Behavior may include, panting, vocalizing, loss of bladder or bowel control, pacing, trembling, drooling, hiding, attempting to escape.
Noise Anxiety become distressed and fearful when they hear certain sounds, such as thunder, fireworks, sirens or traffic. Even the sound of the vacuum cleaner or washing machine can cause a dog to shake, bark or run and hide. Behavior may include, include lip-licking, trembling, pacing, digging, hiding, pacing, whining or barking. Dogs may attempt to escape a window.
Illness induced anxiety Dogs with illnesses such as hypothyroidism, encephalitis, (Brain inflammation) thyrotoxicosis, hearing or vision loss which can startle dogs, and pre-diabetes (high blood sugar & blurred vision) and of course aging dogs whether they are experiencing pain, neurological issues or loss of senses can easily become agitated and aggressive.
Experts that can help with Dog Anxiety
Trainers are typically the first line of defense and will develop a plan to combat minor anxiety related behavior. They might incorporate elements like, exercise, problem solving toys, chews and training.
Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists are an option if the problem is more severe. These are scientists, zoologists, psychologists, biologists or those involved in animal sciences or veterinary medicine with an advanced academic background in the principles of animal behavior. They apply scientific principles to improve the care, management and welfare of animals.
Find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist https://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org/web/applied-behavior-caab-directory.php
Veterinary Behaviorists are many times consulting to pet parents who have dogs who are serious threat to themselves, others, are suffering or, have compulsive behaviors that can drive themselves or their pet parents mad. In some cases, they are the last resort before relinquishing them to shelters or euthanizing them. Veterinary Behaviorists are trained to identify behavioral problems and their root causes. They can also discover underlying medical conditions that may either cause or contribute to inappropriate behavior. There are only 80 Veterinarians certified worldwide through the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists. A veterinary behaviorist could be compared to a psychiatrist as they can prescribe anxiety medications. Typically, dogs that become patients are very aggressive or have behavioral traits that make them dangerous, unmanageable, or unpleasant to live with. These Veterinarians are unique with their expertise in behavior and can or will develop a treatment plan that includes behavior modification and the possibility of prescription medications. Seeing a veterinary behaviorist is costly especially if its ongoing. Find a Veterinary Behaviorist https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp?id=4709
NOTE-Many of us are guilty of pampering or consoling a dog with anxiety which can exacerbate the problem so following a professional’s instructions is essential
List of Anxiety Medications
Here are the most commonly prescribed medications used to treat dog anxiety and most of them are human medications
Alprazolam (Xanax) is off-label use to treat anxiety and phobias. Must be used with caution as high doses can be lethal in dogs.
Amitriptyline Antidepressant with Sedative.
Buspirone Antidepressant (Decreases the amount of Serotonin)
Clomipramine (Clomicalm) is an oral medication used to treat separation anxiety.
Dexmedetomidine (Sileo) is the first FDA approved drug for dogs with noise aversion.
Diazepam (Valium) is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders in dogs and is also a muscle relaxant.
Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac). Prozac is an SSRI antidepressant used to treat a variety of behavioral disorders in dogs. Reconcile is an FDA approved solution for Separation Anxiety.
Lorazepam (Ativan) is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat behavior problems such as anxiety, fears, and phobias.
Paroxetine (Paxil) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant used to treat canine aggression, anxiety, and stereotypic/obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
Sertraline (Zoloft) Sertraline is used to assist in behavior modification programs aimed at treating fear-based behaviors, aggression, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors in dogs
*All the above medications obviously have Side-effects
NOTE- According to experts, severe anxiety often responds best to a prescription anti-anxiety medication and behavior-modification training. Dogs usually need to be treated for about four weeks before the effectiveness of the medication becomes fully evident, and treatment needs to continue for at least two months after an adequate response is observed.
Does CBD help Dog Anxiety?
CBD safety and risks for dogs have not yet been researched. The FDA has not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart but then again, it’s not classified as a drug yet? There is always the risk of toxicity, adverse reactions and contraindications with natural products like CBD but based on having worked with a Direct -to-Consumer Pet CBD company doing a ton of research and reading many positive reviews submitted by customers for Anxiety, I would think its fairly safe trying it for dog. Start with a small dose and gradually increase it if your dog tolerates it. You should also do your homework when looking for CBD as there are many companies touting, they are the best but you should enquire about lab reports & purity. Just because a company has high product prices it does not indicate that they have a higher quality product. CBD has very generous margins for sellers. One thing to note is that CBD can have a sedative affect. Always consult your veterinarian first before starting your dog on CBD.
There are many products that trainers and behaviorists suggest for Separation Anxiety including, treat dispensing toys, DogTV, anxiety wraps, treat dispensing toys, Snuggle Puppy and tech toys operated from smartphones with two-way communication and treat dispensing capabilities.
A study in Finland concluded that 73% of 13,715 dogs and 264 breeds exhibited some type of anxiety.
Wheaten terriers had noise sensitivity, while miniature schnauzers and Staffordshire bull terriers were less sensitive to noises.
Spanish water dogs, Shetland sheepdogs, and mixed breed dogs were the canines in which fearfulness was most common.
Large breeds and small breeds also differed in terms of anxiety-like behaviors. For example, among the miniature schnauzers in this study, 10.6% showed aggression toward strangers, compared with only 0.4% of Labrador retrievers.
But why are such anxious behaviors so common in dogs? The researchers cannot say for sure, but they hypothesize that the dogs’ genetic makeup may have something to do with their predisposition to different types of anxiety.