Posted by Deborah Pujoue on January 27, 2012
Okay, while surfing the Internet for random cutesy dog stories (I just love dogs), I came across an article about a dog that went Cujo on a houseguest out of nowhere. The article was called, “Prozac and Behavior Mod for Nanuk the Biting Dog.” This wasn’t the cute story I was looking for, but it certainly got my attention. I had to do a double take and rub my eyes to be sure that I read the title right. While I wasn’t mistaken in what I saw, I was completely stunned to read that dogs are being given Prozac to treat behavior problems.
After some more surfing to see about the matter myself, I found that giving dogs antidepressants is quite common as a means of treating behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and excessive barking. Apparently the drugs can also help de-stress your dog, as well. These SSRI medications like Prozac work the same way in dogs that they do in humans in that they increase the amount serotonin in their brains. The serotonin is also said to help the dog learn new behavior, too, which is supposed to be great for training the dog. So far, claims are that the canine antidepressants are completely safe for the dog, and most dogs will have no problems at all while taking them. I find that hard to believe since the drugs aren’t at all safe for humans to use.
In humans, SSRI antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa cause birth defects (PPHN, cleft palate, neural tube defects, autism) in the babies whose mothers took the drug while pregnant. I can’t help wondering if the drugs will work the same way in dogs. The drugs are also known to cause aggressive and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If the drug is being given to a dog like Nanuk, who is already acting aggressively, this may not be the best medication to offer.