Using Clomipramine for Dogs to Treat Separation Anxiety

Veterinarians are commonly prescribing Clomipramine for dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Many dogs with separation anxiety exhibit destructive behaviors, whether to themselves or their surroundings, or become an annoyance with barking and howling. The use of clomipramine, in combination with behavior modification and environmental changes, can allow both the dog and the owner to be more relaxed and lessen or eliminate destructive behaviors.

Clomipramine for Dogs

Clomipramine is part of a class of prescription drugs called tricyclic antidepressants. The veterinary formulation for dogs is known as Clomicalm and is thought to have an impact on serotonin, the chemical that produces happy feelings in the brain. The mood elevation helps the dog's sense of well-being and need for annoying or destructive behaviors.

Benefits of clomipramine are seen as quickly as 1 week after the start of treatment. While there aren't any indications of negative effects based upon long-term use of clomipramine, it is best to use the drug until the desired behavior modifications have been achieved and then begin to taper the dog off the dosage. The recommended process is that once there have been 10 to 12 successful separations, cut the dosage in half and continue medicating for another 1 to 2 months so long as the behaviors are still under control. After that time, the clomipramine can be discontinued.

Side Effects of Clomipramine

When used as prescribed, clomipramine is generally safe and effective, It can, however, have side effects on certain dogs.The most frequently reported side effects were lack of appetite, sedation and vomiting. These side effects would be only occasional occurrences in most dogs experiencing them, and deemed less critical than discontinuing the medication and facing stress induced problems. There are several things to monitor if your dog is taking Clomipramine:

  • Great care should be used when administering clomipramine to dogs with seizure disorders.
  • Liver function should be monitored while clomipramine is being administered, especially for dogs who already have liver impairment.
  • Clomipramine can negatively interact with other medications. If your dog is on other medications or dietary supplements, make sure your veterinarian checks for possible drug interactions.

Using Clomipramine with Behavior Modification

It is strongly recommended that clomipramine be used in conjunction with behavior modification and changes to the dog's environment when leaving him alone.

  • Make leaving from and arriving to the home a "non-event". Keep everything low key to avoid raising your dog's stress level.
  • Exhibit your departure cues at times when you'll be staying home. If you pick up your keys and put on shoes just before leaving, pick them up or put them on even when you're staying home. Your dog will soon forget that those signs are always indications that you are heading out the door.
  • Give your dog something to do while you're gone. There are any variety of dog toys that can be stuffed with treats or made more intriguing that will keep your dog entertained during your absence.
  • Crate your dog if he seems to be more comfortable in those surroundings. Some dogs prefer the security of being in their crate during your absence.
  • Ensure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. Pent up energy is never a good start to a day alone. Adequate exercise will also help keep him fit.
  • Separation anxiety can be fixed, or at least reduced. By utilizing the calming effects of clomipramine in tandem with behavior modifications and changes to your dog's environment, the destructive cycle can be broken and you both can live a calm and healthy life.