Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Select An Article
Font Size

Treating Behavior Problems in Dogs

(continued)

Which Medicines Are Best for What?

Five types of medicines are usually used to treat behavior problems in dogs. These are benzodiazepines (BZs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The following is a table that shows different behavior problems in dogs that have been successfully treated with behavior change training and medicine.

Behavior Problem

Medicine Type

General Timidity and Fear of New Things

TCA, SSRI, 5-HT agonist

Thunderstorm or Noise Event Phobia

BZ, TCA

Distress at Being Left Alone (Separation Anxiety)

BZ, TCA

Compulsive Behavior (repeating the same short response or sequence over and over again)

TCA, SSRI, 5-HT agonist

Excessive Licking

TCA, SSRI, 5-HT agonist

Cognitive Dysfunction

MAOI

 

Medicines for the Treatment of Sudden or Severe Fear and Panic

Some dogs experience fear only in specific situations, such as during fireworks or other events with loud noises. The benzodiazepines can help in these situations by reducing fear as needed right when these situations occur. Benzodiazepines take effect quickly, so they can treat impending fear within a short period of time-the same way an aspirin relieves a headache shortly after you take it. In contrast, most other drugs for alleviating fear need to be taken daily for several weeks before they produce results-just like antibiotics need to be taken a few days before they begin to fight bacteria. A minor drawback is that BZs must be given to the dog before the fearful event begins. Optimally, the medicine should be given one hour before the beginning of the scary event, or at minimum, it should be given before the dog shows any signs of fear or worry, such as stress panting, trembling, tail tucking, pupil dilation, sweating paw pads, etc.

Some common benzodiazepines are diazepam (Valium®), alprazolam (Xanax®), chlordiazepoxide (Librium®), lorazepam (Ativan®) and clonazepam (Klonopin®). Benzodiazepines work by increasing the activity of a chemical in the brain that interferes with activation of the fear networks.

Dose Effects

You can only know if a drug is working if you have an idea of what effects to expect. The following list provides the expected reactions in dogs to different doses of benzodiazepines:

  • At low doses, benzodiazepines ramp down excessive behavior and reduce excitability.
  • At moderate doses, benzodiazepines reduce anxiety. Dogs who are afraid will be less fearful and more likely to act normally. At these doses the drug can also increase friendly and interactive behavior.
  • High doses of benzodiazepines produce sedation, including impaired movement and thinking, and disorientation. They also produce sleepiness and cause vomiting. Benzodiazepines affect some of the same parts of the cells in a dog’s brain as alcohol, and so they produce similar effects.

Side Effects

Benzodiazepines have some unwanted side effects, including increased appetite and sleeplessness. Sleeplessness may seem contradictory, but this medicine can actually produce increased anxiety in some dogs. Although not common, this side effect seems to occur most often when the medicine is given after the dog has already begun to show signs of anxiety.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
 
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
Lady owner feeding dog
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
bulldog in party hat
Slideshow