Do Anti Anxiety Meds for Dogs Work?

Do Anti-Anxiety Medications Work for Dogs

Yes, anti anxiety meds for dogs work. Anti anxiety meds for dogs work by relieving stress and anxiety in dogs in a number of ways, but most of them by modulating the neurotransmitters’ levels in the body.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help regulate mood and general well-being. Some of the neurotransmitters in the dog’s body are dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By changing the levels of these chemicals, anti anxiety meds for dogs improve mood and reduce stress.

Some anti anxiety meds for dogs are available over-the-counter, while others are prescribed medications. Regardless, dog owners must consult with the veterinarian before using them.

Pet parents must tell the vet if they are using other anti anxiety meds for dogs such as supplements (CBD oils, L-theanine), pheromones (Adaptil), or other calming chewables.

Anti anxiety meds for dogs are usually the last option – used for severe cases of canine anxiety and as a temporary solution while working with a dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist.

What is the Best Medication for Anxiety in Dogs?

What is the Best Medication for Anxiety in Dogs

There is no single best medication for canine anxiety. The best anti anxiety meds for dogs depend on a number of factors, including the severity and type of anxiety.

Pet owners may have to experiment with anti anxiety meds for dogs – try different anti-anxiety meds for dogs to determine which works best for their dogs’ specific situations.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) for Dogs

What is Benadryl for dogs?

Benadryl is an antihistamine and its mainstream use is for the treatment of allergies. One of the side effects of Benadryl for dogs is drowsiness. This feature can be used to treat some forms of anxiety in dogs. The use of Benadryl in dogs is not FDA-approved. However, Benadryl is one of the most commonly used anti anxiety meds for dogs because it is relatively harmless.

What type of dog anxiety does Benadryl treat?

Benadryl treats mild situational anxiety. Namely, the medication is perfect for managing dogs with noise phobias (thunderstorms and fireworks).

How is Benadryl given to dogs?

Benadryl is given as a pill by mouth, with or without food. Benadryl is also available in a liquid form, but such formulas must be avoided as they may contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to dogs.

What are Benadryl’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Benadryl include drowsiness, excessive salivation, increased heart rate, and fast breathing. The use of Benadryl is risky for dogs with heart disease, seizures, and glaucoma.

Buspirone (BuSpar®) for Dogs

What is Buspirone for dogs?

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety drug with a mild sedative effect on the dog’s body. The drug also increases serotonin activity in the brain. It works best with continued use, so it is often combined with other fast-acting anti-anxiety meds for dogs.

What type of dog anxiety does Buspirone treat?

Buspirone is best suited for generalized and chronic anxiety. It needs time for its effects to kick in and therefore it is not suited for situational anxiety.

How is Buspirone given to dogs?

Buspirone is given orally with or without food. Dogs that vomit after using Buspirone on an empty stomach should be offered the medication with a small amount of food.

What are Buspirone’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Buspirone include confusion, increased friendliness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, decreased appetite, slower heart rate, and vomiting. More serious side effects are small pupils, persistent vomiting, and stumbling.

Dexmedetomidine (Sileo®) for Dogs

What is Dexmedetomidine for dogs?

Dexmedetomidine is an alpha-2 agonist and acts as a mild sedative. By interacting with the alpha-2 receptors it prevents the release of noradrenaline which is the hormone responsible for some of the responses during a stressful stimulus.

What type of dog anxiety does Dexmedetomidine treat?

Dexmedetomidine is best suited for situational anxiety, particularly phobias of loud noises.

How is Dexmedetomidine given to dogs?

Dexmedetomidine is applied between the cheek and gums and shouldn’t be swallowed. The drug can be given before the triggering event or as soon as the dog starts showing signs of anxiety (urination and aggressive behavior).

What are Dexmedetomidine’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Dexmedetomidine are rare, but possible and include vomiting, pale gums, drowsiness, excess sedation, and urinary incontinence.

Diazepam (Valium®) for Dogs

What is Diazepam for dogs?

Diazepam is an anti-anxiety med from the benzodiazepines group. It works by increasing GABA levels in the brain and classifies as an anticonvulsant and tranquilizer. In addition to being an anti-anxiety med, Diazepam can be used as a muscle relaxant, anti-seizure med, and appetite stimulant. Diazepam is among the most commonly used anti anxiety meds for dogs.

What type of dog anxiety does Diazepam treat?

Diazepam is used in the treatment of situational anxiety and panic disorders.

How is Diazepam given to dogs?

Diazepam can be given orally as a tablet or liquid but it can also be injected. The injectable form can only be used by a licensed veterinarian.

What are Diazepam’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Diazepam for dogs include sedation, ataxia, increased appetite, changes in heart rate, confusion, drooling, aggression, weakness, and agitation. Diazepam should not be used in pregnant dogs.

Alprazolam (Xanax®) for Dogs

What is Alprazolam for dogs?

Alprazolam is another anti-anxiety prescription medication from the benzodiazepines family. Benzodiazepines or popularly known as Benzos are psychoactive meds with calming effects. The exact way Benzos work isn’t fully understood, but they have been proven to be effective for anxious dogs.

What type of dog anxiety does Alprazolam treat?

Alprazolam is best suited for situational anxiety. If needed on a long-term basis, it is used in conjunction with other anti-anxiety meds for dogs.

How is Alprazolam given to dogs?

Alprazolam is given in the form of a tablet or liquid by mouth. The med can be used with or without food, ideally between 30 and 60 minutes before the anticipated stressful event.

What are Alprazolam’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Alprazolam include sedation, lethargy, increased appetite, and ataxia or loss of coordination. Alprazolam should be used cautiously in dogs with chronic conditions and working dogs.

Lorazepam (Ativan®) for Dogs

What is Lorazepam for dogs?

Lorazepam is an off-label benzodiazepine medication used to treat dogs that experience anxiety. In addition to being a commonly used anti-anxiety medication, Lorazepam is used in the management of seizures and as an appetite stimulant.

What type of dog anxiety does Lorazepam treat?

Lorazepam is best suited for situational anxiety – fears and phobias.

How is Lorazepam given to dogs?

Lorazepam can be given orally as a tablet or liquid. Lorazepam tablets dissolve quickly and if your dog has trouble swallowing, you should put the pill in a pill pocket. Lorazepam comes in an injectable form too.

What are Lorazepam’s side effects in dogs?

The side effect of Lorazepam includes drowsiness, loss of coordination, changes in appetite, drooling, vocalization, increased activity, and behavioral problems. Lorazepam should not be used in dogs with liver problems and breathing issues.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) for Dogs

What are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for dogs?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of anti-anxiety meds for dogs that inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin on a synapse level (the point where two nerves meet). Normally, once serotonin performs its task it is reabsorbed. However, in the presence of an SSRI, the serotonin stays in the nerve space and continues to exert its effect on the brain.

What type of dog anxiety do Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors treat?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to treat generalized and separation anxiety. However, some members of this group can be used for other behavioral problems.

How are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors given to dogs?

SSRIs are given by mouth and they are usually available as pills (tablets and capsules) and liquids. The exact administration instructions will be stated on the package.

What are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’ side effects in dogs?

In general, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are well-tolerated by dogs. In more sensitive individuals they may cause stomach upsets (vomiting, diarrhea, appetite changes), drowsiness, and mood swings (increased irritability or even aggression).

Sertraline (Zoloft®) for Dogs

What is Sertraline for dogs?

Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used in the treatment of anxiety, aggression, and other behavioral problems. It works by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. Like other anti anxiety meds in dogs, the use of Sertraline is off-label.

What type of dog anxiety does Sertraline treat?

Sertraline works best for generalized anxiety. However, the medication can also be used in the treatment of aggression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other behavioral issues.

How is Sertraline given to dogs?

Sertraline is given by mouth and is available in two different forms, as a tablet or liquid. It can be offered with or without food. When given on an empty stomach, Sertraline may cause the dog to vomit.

What are Sertraline’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Sertraline include lethargy, lack of appetite, irritability, itchy skin, panting, shaking, vomiting, and diarrhea. More severe side effects include aggression, fast heart rate, high body temperature, seizures, and coma.

Fluoxetine (Prozac®) for Dogs

What is Fluoxetine for dogs?

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) – a class of antidepressants that increase the serotonin levels in the brain by blocking its reuptake at nerve endings. The med is FDA-approved for the treatment of separation anxiety and used with behavior modification techniques like positive reinforcement and desensitization.

What type of dog anxiety does Fluoxetine treat?

Fluoxetine is used to treat separation anxiety in dogs. In addition to this FDA-approved use, it can also be given off-label for managing various behavioral issues.

How is Fluoxetine given to dogs?

Fluoxetine is given orally as a tablet, capsule, or liquid. The medication can be offered with or without food. If giving your dog Fluoxetine, do not use aged cheese as a pill pocket.

What are Fluoxetine’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Fluoxetine include drowsiness, decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, shaking, panting, drooling, weight loss, vocalization, and incoordination. In severe cases, it may cause aggression, seizures, and persistent vomiting.

Paroxetine (Paxil®) for Dogs

What is Paroxetine for dogs?

Paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat canine anxiety and other destructive behaviors like aggression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. It is an off-label drug, but it has proven to be very effective for anxiety treatment in dogs.

What type of dog anxiety does Paroxetine treat?

Paroxetine in dogs is used to treat generalized anxiety. The medication is also used in the management of obsessive-compulsive behaviors and aggression.

How is Paroxetine given to dogs?

Paroxetine is given orally as the med is available in the form of capsules, tablets, and liquid suspensions. It can be used with or without food. If giving your dog Paroxetine, do not use aged cheese as a pill pocket.

What are Paroxetine’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Paroxetine include GI tract symptoms (drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation), seizures, twitching, restlessness, panting, pacing, vocalization, and dry and itchy skin.

Trazodone (Desyrel®) for Dogs

What is Trazodone for dogs?

Trazodone is an off-label serotonin antagonist/reuptake inhibitor (SARI) that is used to treat canine anxiety and other behavioral issues. It works by increasing the serotonin levels in the dog’s brain, which results in improved mood. Trazodone is used to boost the effects of other anti anxiety meds for dogs.

What type of dog anxiety does Trazodone treat?

Trazodone is best suited for separation anxiety, situational anxiety (vet visits, car rides), and noise phobias (thunderstorms, fireworks).

How is Trazodone given to dogs?

Trazodone is given as a tablet by mouth. Oral medication can be given with or without food. For dogs with sensitive stomachs, Trazodone should be given with a small amount of food or wrapped in a dog treat.

What are Trazodone’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Trazodone include sedation, lethargy, ataxia, increased appetite, dilated pupils, abnormal heart rhythm, vomiting, increased anxiety, priapism, and aggression. It must not be used in pregnant dogs and dogs with glaucoma.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) for Dogs

What are Tricyclic Antidepressants for dogs?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are a class of antidepressants that work by preventing the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. There are many TCAs available and you need to talk to your veterinarian about which is best for your dog. TCAs commonly used as anti anxiety meds for dogs are amitriptyline, clomipramine, and desipramine.

What type of dog anxiety do Tricyclic Antidepressants treat?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) for dogs are used to treat a wide variety of types of anxiety, including generalized and situational anxiety.

How are Tricyclic Antidepressants given to dogs?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are given orally to dogs. However, there are different types of TCAs and they are available in different forms (capsules, tablets, liquids).

What are Tricyclic Antidepressants’ side effects in dogs?

The side effects of TCAs include digestive upsets (vomiting, diarrhea, changes in appetite), drowsiness, urinary retention, ataxia, disorientation, seizures, and hormonal imbalances. In general, TCAs come with many side effects but they are still commonly used.

Amitriptyline for Dogs

What is Amitriptyline for dogs?

Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that works by increasing the levels of serotonin and noradrenaline thus supporting a state of emotional wellbeing. The use of Amitriptyline is off-label meaning the medication is not FDA-approved.

What type of dog anxiety does Amitriptyline treat?

Amitriptyline is used for separation anxiety and generalized anxiety. It is also given to dogs with other behavioral issues, like excessive grooming, urine spraying, and obsessive itching. Amitriptyline can also be used for the treatment of lower urinary tract infections and pain.

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How is Amitriptyline given to dogs?

Amitriptyline is given as a tablet by mouth with or without food. Dogs with sensitive tummies should be given the med with food. The medication can be compounded in a liquid form.

What are Amitriptyline’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Amitriptyline include drowsiness, increased heart rate, headaches, dry mouth, dry eyes, decreased blood cell counts, and rarely seizures. Amitriptyline is not suited for pregnant dogs.

Clomipramine (Anafranil®) for Dogs

What is Clomipramine for dogs?

Clomipramine, sometimes referred to as Clomicalm, is a tricyclic antidepressant that works by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin. It is the first drug approved and licensed for the treatment of behavioral issues in dogs. However, it may take some time until its effects kick in and it starts working.

What type of dog anxiety does Clomipramine treat?

Clomipramine is best-suited for separation anxiety. Off-label it can be used for other anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

How is Clomipramine given to dogs?

Clomipramine is given by mouth in the form of tablets or capsules. The medications can also be compounded in a liquid form. It can be given with or without food.

What are Clomipramine’s side effects in dogs?

The side effects of Clomipramine include GI tract issues (vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, constipation, lack of appetite), fatigue, increased heart rate, dry mouth, and elevated liver enzymes.