Canine Anxiety Management with Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Fluoxetine, better known as Prozac, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug (SSRI) that can be used for different problems such as depression or anxiety in pets. This drug can be used with caution, but typically it has fewer side effects than other antidepressants used by veterinarians.

Canine Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety may be triggered by different events and changes in the life of the dog. Most commonly, dogs suffer from separation anxiety due to the separation from an owner or an important person in the family. The symptoms of anxiety in dogs may include:

  • Quiet or hiding behavior; other dogs may manifest anxiety through an agitated behavior
  • Refusal to eat
  • Obsessive behavior such as chewing of paws or excessive scratching, causing skin infections or hair loss
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability and aggressiveness  
  • Whining or barking in excess

Anxiety is difficult to diagnose, but the vet can get to this diagnosis by ruling out other possible physical problems. The vet will also try to identify the possible causes of anxiety.

Canine Anxiety Management

Anxiety may be problematic to treat and it may take a lot of time to get your dog to feel comfortable again. Ideally, the triggers causing anxiety should be eliminated. If this is not possible, the dog should be trained to get used to the new conditions or situations. As the owner, you will have to work a lot on helping the dog to recover. You will have to spend extra time with the dog and help him adapt to the new situation. Medication is recommended if the dog doesn't show signs of improvement after a few weeks of training or therapy.

Fluoxetine for Anxiety

Fluoxetine hydrochloride, also known as Prozac or Reconcile, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is often recommended in dogs that suffer from anxiety. The medication will allow the production of serotonin that is essential for the emotional well being of the dog. A short term treatment may be successful when combined with extra attention and training. Prozac is often chosen as medication for anxiety or depression, as it has fewer side effects than similar antidepressive drugs for veterinary use.

Fluoxetine Side Effects

A lot of antidepressant medication causes lethargy in canines, but Prozac will not have this side effect. However, fluoxetine may have a few other side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Alertness, the dog may sleep fewer hours
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite followed by weight loss
  • Hyperglycemia or high concentration of blood sugar

These side effects are less severe than other drugs used for anxiety and depression, but Prozac shouldn't be used as a long term treatment.

Contraindications of Fluoxetine

Fluoxetine hydrochloride is a substance that can increase the concentration of sugar in the blood, so canines that already have a problem with glycemia (diabetic dogs) should not receive Prozac treatment. The vet will perform a few blood tests prior to administering Prozac for anxiety.