Dogs may need medication to relax in extreme cases of anxiety.
Dogs exhibit stress for several reasons, including travel, thunderstorms or grooming. They may also suffer separation anxiety causing damage to itself or property when left unsupervised. Just like humans, dogs may benefit from natural supplements or prescription medications to calm anxiety and stress. However, consider anxiety medication a last resort as addressing the reasons behind the behavior is priority.
A chewable, reformulated version of Prozac® (fluoxetine) called Reconcile® is available to dogs as an anti-depressant. Many owners have seen a reduction in symptoms of aggression or anxiety issues when using this drug in conjunction with a behavior modification program, as it allows dogs to learn new behaviors. Once the behavior changes, veterinarians recommend reducing or eliminating the medication altogether. Just as humans can experience side effects from fluoxetine, some known issues with dogs taking Reconcile or Prozac have been stomach upset, lack of appetite, lethargy, hyperactivity and, rarely, seizures. Dogs should have liver toxicity testing when kept on this medication for long periods.
CLOMICALM® (clomipramine hydrochloride) is a safe and effective prescription medication that helps alleviate the suffering of separation anxiety in dogs. According to Novartis, the drug’s manufacturer, improvement in anxiety appears in a month or less of beginning the medication, which is dosed depending upon the weight of your dog. Clomicalm has been approved by the FDA and noted to cause side effects such as vomiting, lethargy and increased thirst. This medication is most effective when utilized in a program with behavioral therapy for the dog. Only your veterinarian can dispense Clomicalm.
Natural Relaxation Supplements
Dogs that display emotional issues such as hyperactivity and anxiety may benefit from safe, herbal remedies such as valerian root or chamomile, which have calming properties. Valerian root is a mild sedative and relaxant to aid dogs that are nervous or panicky. Chamomile can also relax the stomach, which can be a problem for dogs with anxiety. It is also good to give the dog prior to travel to prevent motion sickness. Give herbal remedies as a tincture with an eyedropper, mixed in food, inhaled as essential oils or in a topical application. Give herbs to your dog based on their weight, and herbal form. As with any medication or dog illness, you should consult your veterinarian prior to administering.