Managing Dog Anxiety with Amitriptyline (Elavil)

Dog anxiety is a behavioral issue, more commonly known as separation anxiety, which occurs when your dog becomes nervous or upset about something. Not only can this behavior be destructive to your dog's mental state, but it can also present a stressful situation in your home. Being aware of the signs and knowing how to proceed in treating it can help keep your dog in a safe mental state.

Exploring Dog Anxiety

Dog anxiety is not a trait that your dog is born with. It's a condition that occurs as the result of triggers which lead to nervous behavior. It is a form of neurological distress and there is no way to know if your dog will become affected by it. Anxiety is a true medical condition that results from changes in brain chemistry.

Triggers for anxiety can include loud noises, new people, a new baby, irritating smells and excessive cage time. The most common form of anxiety is called separation anxiety. Separation anxiety occurs when your dog feels that he is left alone too often or goes through withdrawal when he is away from you. It should be understood that this behavior does not mean that your dog is intentionally trying to irritate or annoy you, but rather that he is genuinely trying to tell you that he is sad and suffering.

It is in a dog's nature to be a pack animal. This means that your dog looks to you as the pack leader. When the pack leader is not around often enough, or there is a drastic change in schedule, your dog can become nervous and start to respond. The idea behind anxiety in dogs is theoretically that they crave their time with you. However, some dogs become excessive in their desires and the behavior is no longer tolerable.

When your dog starts to develop any type of anxiety, destructive behaviors will start to become apparent, such as:

  • Excessive or uncontrollable barking
  • Excessive or uncontrollable chewing
  • Whining
  • Yelping
  • Crying
  • Eliminating in the house
  • Pacing
  • Digging

If you begin to notice these symptoms in your dog, it's time to seek medical attention and get your dog on a plan of treatment or calm.

Treatment of Dog Anxiety with Elavil

Depending upon the severity of the situation, some dogs will not require medicinal intervention to cure their anxiety. Sometimes all it takes is a little extra time spent with your dog. Try putting aside a time and place that only you and your dog go. Make sure to pat and comfort him and bring along some toys so that you and your dog can enjoy play time together.

It's suspected that only one quarter of all dogs experience separation anxiety, and most cases can be treated by paying more attention to your dog. However, there are times when you have tried everything you can think of and nothing has worked. That's when it's time to introduce a medication that can help your dog relax and alleviate his symptoms.

Elavil is the brand name for Amitriptyline. It is used to induce behavior modification in dogs that suffer from anxiety or some strain of separation anxiety. Elavil is a prescription antidepressant and has worked very effectively in helping dogs to eliminate their bad behaviors due to anxiety. Behaviors such as excessive grooming, chewing, howling and barking have all been known to be calmed by taking Elavil.

Elavil is known as a tricyclic antidepressant. It works in the brain by changing the normal functions of serotonin and norepinephrine. These brain chemicals are used for communication between the nerves throughout the body. By changing their chemical function, this drug is known the help ease the anxiety of the brain and nervous system.

Elavil is given by tablet orally and daily. Because of the altered brain activity, this is not a drug that should be stopped in the midst of treatment. To avoid side effects, it is always best to wean from this medicine when improvement of the behavior has been seen.