Dealing with Pet Anxiety: Should You Medicate Your Dog?

| 3/21/2016 7:00:00 AM

Many pet owners struggle to help their pets deal with anxiety, especially dogs, which can do some serious damage. Problems like excessive barking, chewing, jumping, housebreaking issues and even escape attempts are common symptoms of dogs dealing with anxiety.

woman with husky puppy
Photo by tranmautritam.

Some pet owners are able to help their pets learn how to cope with anxiety, but others can’t. The anxiety may be too severe, the owners may not have the resources to deal with it, or there may be a chemical imbalance in the animal’s brain. No matter what the reason, many people are turning to medications in order to help their furry friends live happier lives.

Almost 3 million dogs are now on some form of anti-anxiety medication in the United States. This is actually less than 4 percent of the 77 million dogs that are owned, but the number is climbing.

Why Medicate Your Dog?

Most people are opting for medications for their pets because it really helps. Most of these people have tried other options and haven’t found them to be helpful. This is especially true for pets that experience separation anxiety. Pet owners can see the pain their pets are in when they’re left alone, and it causes them stress, too.

Some vets prefer using medication as a last resort, in part due to the potential side effects. Like all drugs, doggie Prozac does have some risks, including a loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and tremors. For some people, that may be too much of a risk to subject their pets to. For others, the anxiety or aggression is worse than side effects that may or may not affect their pet.