Ask any dog owner and they will tell you that dogs are very well capable of experiencing many of the same emotional issues that humans deal with every day. Dogs have the capacity to experience anger, aggressiveness, depression, and anxiety just like their owners. While in the past little attention was paid to treating these conditions in dogs, today a large number of behavioral medications exist that can help ease the inner turmoil of your pet and allow it to enjoy a higher quality of life.
Anxiety is one of the main behavioral issues that many dogs frequently experience. In most cases, the anxiety is brought on by a specific trigger, such as going to the vet or riding in a moving vehicle. Other dogs may seem happy and emotionally healthy but are secretly hiding their anxiety like we humans often do. When this is the case, anti-anxiety medication formulated for occasional use may be the solution.
Many of the same anti-anxiety medicines that humans take can also be used to successfully treat dogs suffering from the condition. Various brands of benzodiazepine are helpful when anxiety is brought on by loud sudden noises, such as a slamming door or crack of thunder. These same medications can also come in handy if your dog has a very strong reaction to people leaving your home. Because benzodiazepine is fast acting, your dog will experience relief from his or her anxiety in just a few minutes after taking it. As always, though, talk with your veterinarian before administering any medication to your pet.
For some animals, anxiety is not an occasional episode that is triggered by a specific event. For anxiety that is more perpetual and constant in your dog, a more aggressive medication regime is often required in order to ease the suffering. Tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs are often recommended by veterinarians for dogs that are so timid and fearful that it severely disrupts their daily routine. This drug restores a more even temperament and eases the intense fear that anxiety ridden dogs commonly experience.
The best way to administer this type of medication is to slip it into your pooch’s food. TCA can also be an effective solution when your pet exhibits habits that could be categorized as compulsive behavior. For example, if your dog often engages in excessive licking, tail and shadow chasing, repetitive circling, or chewing with an empty mouth, it may be due to something more than mere boredom. If your veterinarian cannot find any underlying physical reasons for your dog’s behavior, employing some type of TCA may help to free it from whatever is causing his or her compulsions.
If your dog suffers from intense depression, it may be necessary to go with a stronger medication to restore proper emotional balance. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs can be used for long-term treatment of depression in dogs. If you follow the proper dosing instructions provided by your vet, drugs of this type usually begin to take a positive effect within a few weeks. However, keep in mind that just as some people have an adverse reaction to SSRIs, dogs can also experience a negative reaction to the drug as well and become more depressed. Watch your dog’s behavior closely and call the vet immediately if the mental condition of your dog appears to get worse instead of better.
Dogs can also have trouble with concentrating and relating to the world around them. When this is the case, employing a class of drugs known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs may be the ideal solution. Drugs of this type can help the mental processes of your dog become sharper. As a result, the animal will be more cognizant and alert as to what is happening around the home and react to it in a normal fashion.
There are also herbal blends of mood enhancing products that are recommended by some veterinarians. Unlike medications, these are available without the need of a prescription. However, dosage should be approved by a vet before attempting to treat your pet with products of this type. Many herbs can have a severe negative interaction with prescription medicines and could in turn cause your dog a great deal of physical and emotional distress. Your vet will be more aware of the risks associated with mixing prescription and herbal medications and can help you to choose an herbal blend that won’t create even more problems for your already troubled pet.
As with the use of medication in humans, it is important to closely follow your vet’s instructions when administering behavioral medication to your dog. Remember to always continue to administer prescribed medicine to your pet until your vet says it is safe to discontinue use as this will minimize the chances of your dog experiencing a sudden and intense rebound of the original symptoms.
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Leslie Silver is a freelance writer who writes about pet care, often discussing specific products such as dog medication.
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