A Guide to Dog Anxiety Medication

Most vets suggest mixing behavior training with a dog anxiety medication. While the medications do work well, some have side effects and should be used in moderation. Therefore, it's always important to try to get to the root of the dog's anxiety and use training to ease the stress.

Pet owners have a number of prescription dog anti-anxiety medication options. Talk to your vet before using any medications. Sometimes, pets actually have an underlying health issue with symptoms that mimic anxiety and stress.

Using Acepromazine, a Dog Tranquilizer

The dog tranquilizer Acepromazine is frequently used during surgeries because it helps prevent vomiting caused by anesthesia. However, it is also used as a tranquilizer to relax easily excited dogs, such as those who become anxious during a thunderstorm. It's inexpensive because it is sold by the tablet.

Acepromazine relaxes the central nervous system. It should not be used in dogs with liver or heart disease or in dogs that have had seizures.

The key side effect is that it can tinge urine pink. If a dog overdoses, lethargy, slowed pulse, seizures and staggered movements occur.

Tricyclic Antidepressant Dog Anxiety Medication

Tricyclic antidepressants regulate brain chemicals preventing chemical imbalances. It does take time for the medications to work, so do not expect regular results. There are two prescription dog anxiety medication choices:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Clomipramine (Clomicalm)
  • Amitriptyline, commonly known as the brand name Elavil, is used in dogs to treat noise and separation anxiety. While taking the medication, provide extra water to prevent urinary tract infections.
  • Anafranil and Clomicalm, the two brand names for clomipramine, also help treat noise and separation anxiety, as well as fear based aggression and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Do not give your dog any tricyclic antidepressant if your pet has used an MAO inhibitors in the past two weeks. Also, do not use this dog anti-anxiety medication with herbal remedies without asking your veterinarian first. Side effects of tricyclic dog anxiety medication brands include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Urinary retention

Fluoxetine (Prozac, Reconcile)

Fluoxetine, such as Reconcile or Prozac, is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). The dog anxiety medication is used to treat depression, panic/anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior. It works by suppressing the brain chemical Serotonin.

Never use Fluoxetine on a dog taking MAO inhibitors or that is pregnant or nursing. Animals with liver or kidney disease, diabetes or seizures should also not be given Fluoxetine. Fluoxetine can cause a pet to bruise or bleed easily if your pet takes pain medications, so do not use pain medications without consulting your vet first.

Common side effects are:

  • Cold like symptoms (sore throat, runny nose)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Allergy Remedies like Hydroxyzine Pamoate (Vistaril)

While Vistaril is used to treat allergies, some vets find it useful as a sedative in anxious dogs. It relaxes the central nervous system and may cause dizziness and lethargy. Other side effects include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Pets with heart, kidney and liver disease should not take Vistaril. In addition, the medication should not be used in pregnant or nursing dogs.