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Prozac for Pets Grows in Popularity, How Sad is That?

Prozac for Pets Grows in Popularity, How Sad is That?

When my dog, Sanchez, was recovering from a slipped disc in his neck, for a short time he was on some of the same medication that my mother takes for her back pain — gabapentin and tramadol. Fortunately, his acupuncture treatment was very successful at relieving his pain, and he was off of drugs pretty quickly. In addition to pharmaceutical drugs, psychiatric drugs have also grown in popularity for the 4-legged population.

An in depth article in Salon reported the results of a survey taken of insured Americans:

“One in five adults is currently taking at least one psychiatric drug. Americans spent more than $16 billion on antipsychotics, $11 billion on antidepressants and $7 billion on drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2010. And according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, 87 percent of people who visit a psychiatristc office leave with a prescription.”

Animal pharmaceuticals are a booming business. Salon also reported that the pet pharmaceutical business has grown from $6.68 billion in 2011 to a projected $9.25 billion by 2015. Zoetis Inc., once a subsidiary of Pfizer, is at the top of the pharmaceutical chain, with yearly sales of Pfizer’s animal pharmaceuticals worth roughly $3.9 billion.

With the July 4th holiday coming up in America, veterinary practices are expecting their busiest week of the year. People are seeking anti-anxiety drugs for their fireworks phobic dogs and cats. (Incidentally, the  busiest day of the year for shelters in the U.S. is July 5th, as sound sensitive dogs left outside during fireworks escape, seeking safety and quiet.)

One in seven dogs has an anxiety disorder that has been treated by a veterinarian. Reconcile is an FDA-approved just like Prozac, except it comes with a beef-flavor and is chewable. The company “Lilly” funded a study in 2007 that reported 17 percent of American dogs have separation anxiety.

Clomicalm by Navartis was also recently FDA approved for pets. The active ingredient duplicates the active ingredient in Anafranil. Novartis claims that it helps calm dogs with separation anxiety. Their website says, “CLOMICALM”  has been shown to be effective when administered in combination with behavioral modification techniques for the treatment of anxieties and stereotypies (obsessive compulsive disorder).”

Herein lies the problem. The majority of people want their dog’s anxiety problem solved, and solved quickly. And it’s so much easier to give their pet a pill rather than try behavioral solutions. While veterinary behaviorists may prescribe anti-anxiety medication, they only do so in combination with behavioral treatment. But, behavioral treatment often takes time, and pet parents would often rather solve the short term problem now than invest the time to solve the problem long-term.

Salon also interviewed Nicole Cottam at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University who had this to say,

“50 to 60 percent of the people who come to the Tufts clinic want drugs for their dog, cat, or bird. Most of our clients don’t call or come back after the initial appointment, unless it’s to get refills. When people leave with a prescription and behavioral exercises, they tend to only use the pills.”

Also, there are many alternative choices. When we first launched Through a Dog’s Ear, clinically tested sound therapy for canine anxiety issues, we joked about a tag line called, “Just Say NO to Drugs.” Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. Since a dog’s hearing is their second strongest sense (after smell), it’s not surprising that dogs  respond to music clinically tested to calm their nervous system. For thousands of dogs, the sound therapy has helped calm them instantly, even those with severe anxiety issues who formerly had jumped out the window during fireworks.

For others, there are desensitization tools combined with training protocol by world-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell. The goal is to change your dog’s association with the “bad thing,” i.e. fireworks, thunderstorms, construction sounds. Yes, that can take some time. But, the natural remedy again has worked for thousands of dogs. And you’ll save yourself a trip to the vet every July 3rd.

Other natural remedies include anxiety wraps, pheromone sprays, and calming caps. I highly encourage anyone with an anxiety ridden dog to try all of these natural solutions (and combine them as needed) before putting your dog on a doggie downer.

Delivering Calm, Four Paws at a Time!

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for the Through a Dog’s Ear newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets, Remedies & Treatments, Safety, , , , , , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


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11:07AM PDT on Aug 25, 2014

controversial and emotive article. Interesting.

9:36AM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Sad news.

6:41PM PDT on Jul 10, 2014


2:43PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

I would not call a person a "pet parent", that wasn't looking to do the right thing by their animal. I don't believe shoving prozac & the like down a pet's throat & not trying every other natural remedy including behavioral, FIRST! A person who loves their pet wants to do everything possible to help them & not hurt them. Drugging your animal (or human child), for that matter should NOT be the go to answer , sadly, our society is a "quick fix" culture...pop a pill & all your troubles go away... seems to be
the way too many people choose.

9:13PM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

Psychiatric drugs for dogs? I am not to sure about that. Consider the list of umpteen side affects they have on humans. What are they doing to dogs? I do feel with the majority of pets that more owner involvement would help a pet considerably.

12:47AM PDT on Jul 7, 2014

very sad ._(

11:24AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Far too many people looking for a quick fix, for themselves at times as well as administering the doggie downers without looking for a natural solution. Sad. If you love your furry friends, be a responsible owner and seek other solutions before turning to drugs.

10:01AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

I believe physicians and veterinarians are far more knowledgeable and have far more expertise in evaluating the risks and benefits of prescribing medications and judging when they're needed. Most people seem to getting their medical and pharmaceutical information from internet gurus and bloggers who have no more expertise than the people who read their malarkey.
Actually, I couldn't care less what people decide to believe and what they choose for themselves, but I'm sick and tired of them inflicting their beliefs on their pets.
*My cat has asthma but I refuse to give her prednisone because my second cousin twice removed took it and got a boil on his butt*.
Of course, you don't get to try and save their lives when they come into my ER, you don't see how many die from what I consider idiotic negligence.
Oh, BTW, since we are discussing psychotropic medications you also don't see how many animals I admit to the shelter because the owner refused to try medication ~ for all the reasons that have been posted here.
I can very rarely place animals with behavioural problems..........................

4:10AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

This is like killing our family

10:40PM PDT on Jul 5, 2014

Our dog is perfect except that she barks when there is a knock on the door or a visitor. My husband puts her in the kennel (for visitors). I finally put my foot down and told him when HE's not home,I leave her out,but on her leash. She barks,but settles down after a little while and goes back to biting her toy. Imagine if I drugged her. She rewards me with kisses and nestles in my lap. In 10 years,I've never given her anything but Prednisone when she hurt her leg. The Doctor said she would have to be on it for life. I started weaning her after a week when her behavior returned to normal. I suspect she scared herself and was afraid to use her leg. Her entire attitude changed for that period. My first cat hat asthma-yes-very funny. I got Prednisone shots for her and for 2 to 3 weeks she was better. But I refused to take her in monthly for a shot. A friend of mine had a dog with a large goiter that had grown after prolonged treatment with Prednisone.
When we adopted this cat,she'd been dumped twice-by 2 different families. I took her in,had her fixed, got her vaccinations, and and pills for round worms. She was vomiting blood and round worms. Poor baby! So I took her every 2 months for Prednisone shots.After 8 months,for some reason-she stopped having asthma at all. She lived to be 16. So I know. She was a wonderful cat. The best. And the less drugs,the better was my decision.

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