If you have ever watched your dog during a thunderstorm, or come home to a destroyed household after leaving your dog alone for an extended period of time, you have probably discovered that dogs are prone to anxiety. Whether caused by noise or loneliness, dogs are sometimes as emotional as humans. However, just like humans, there are anti-anxiety medications available for dogs to help curb the problems associated with these emotions.
Clomipramine, also known as Climcalm, is one of the few prescription medications on the market approved for anxiety in both humans and dogs. Clomipramine is a tricyclic medication proven to help regulate serotonin levels. Seratonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps transport brain signals throughout the body. When there is not enough serotonin available mental disorders such as depression and anxiety may become a side effect of the deficiency. Clomipramine works as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) meaning that it inhibits serotonin reuptake on the presynaptic cell, and increases the ability of the serotonin to bind to the monoamine transporters. This effectively helps relieve the symptoms of anxiety.
Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, is also a common used prescription medication for dogs with anxiety. Also an SSRI, this medication helps dogs regulate their serotonin levels. Fluoxetine can cause a series of side effects with your dog. As such, it is important to weigh the health benefits with anxiety, over the health side effects, especially stomach problems. Some dogs also experience an increased level of aggression while on Fluoxetine. This should be monitored, especially when the dog is commonly around young children.
Selegiline is an monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) also used for the treatment of anxiety in dogs. Selegiline increases the levels of dopamine in your dog's body. Dopamine works to increase and improve the cognitive processes of the animal's brain. The increased cognitive ability helps to relieve the symptoms of anxiety within the dog.
Another way to help dogs with anxiety is to understand what causes the anxiety in the first place. Just like with humans, when a dog experiences a threat, or feels threatened, their brain sets off a wave of chemicals creating a "fight-or-flight" reaction. This reaction increases the levels of adrenaline and other chemicals in our body that prepare for the worst. This means an increased heart rate, increase in blood cells in case the body gets hurt, and an increased sense of alertness. All of these reactions are produced to help the dog get ready to either fight or run. When this happens occasionally it can be beneficial, especially when a real threat presents itself. However, if it happens to often, it can cause a malfunction in serotonin levels. This can cause the dog to experience chronic bouts of anxiety.
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to chronic anxiety. These dog breeds include: dalmatians, bull dogs, German shepherds, and most breeds of terriers.