Meds to Calm Dogs Down

You may want to better ground your hyper, high-flying canine.
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Prozac for dogs? You bet. If your pooch has been riddled with anxiety lately, meds can help. Only turn to puppy Prozac if exercise and training are not working on their own, and only administer pills under your vet's supervision.

Types of Medications

Before you can find the right med for Max, you need to consult your vet to help figure out the problem. If he just hyper, that requires a different approach than if Max is full of anxiety and stress -- or if he's acting aggressively and you want to calm him down. Medication is effective in up to 90 percent of the dogs treated for aggression and up to 60 percent of dogs being treated for anxiety or phobias, psychologist and canine scholar Stanley Coren notes.

Separation Issues

Used in people to treat anxiety, amitriptyline hydrochloride -- sold under the brand name Elavil -- is also prescribed to also treat dogs with anxiety problems, especially separation anxiety. Amitriptyline hydrochloride has been shown to be effective in cats to treat stress and excessive grooming issues -- so it's at least possible that the meds might also help dogs with similar issues.

Aggression Issues

Not long ago, dogs deemed too aggressive were often put to sleep as "unsalvageable" -- but not anymore. More and more vets are now prescribing drugs to help tone down the aggression so Cooper can respond better to training and lead a better, less "crazed" life. Fluoxetine -- better known by its brand name, Prozac -- is a common prescription for aggression in dogs. Other serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- also known as SRIs -- are often prescribed as well, including Elavil and sertraline hydrochloride or Zoloft.

Other Issues

Many calming medications -- including Prozac, Zoloft and Elavil -- must be given continuously to work. That means Bandit should be taking those pills daily for months or years to help with ongoing issues. However, some dogs need meds only occasionally -- for example, Bandit might need something to calm him down before a trip, a visit to the groomer or the Fourth of July fireworks. For those cases, vets might recommend benzodiazepines, a type of drugs that include alprazolam or Xanax and diazepam or Valium. These drugs are fast acting but have a temporary effect -- usually just a few hours -- enough to calm down Bandit and help him get through a difficult event.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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