Do you or anyone you know suffer from depression? Then, you already know how useful antidepressants are in helping to overcome those feelings. Similarly, dogs that are clinically depressed may also be prescribed antidepressants.
Antidepressants for dogs
While antidepressants may be prescribed for dogs, it is a very rare occurrence. This is because veterinarians prefer to find the underlying cause of the depression and address it if possible. No doctor, whether for humans or animals, should prescribe medication as the first step in treating depression.
Why some dogs are prescribed antidepressants
If you’re like most people, you may think antidepressants are only prescribed to treat depression. That is not always the case and dogs may be prescribed antidepressants for several other conditions. These include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Separation anxiety
- Generalized anxiety
- Dog aggression
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac and Paxil are generally prescribed for the first three conditions. Tricyclic antidepressants may also be used as an alternative, and also to treat certain phobias in dogs.
Are there any side effects?
Antidepressants are known for their side effects and when taken by dogs, it is no different. Some examples of side effects from dogs who take antidepressants include:
- Feelings of drowsiness or sedation
- Increased excitability
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Changes in liver function
The most dangerous side effect of dogs taking antidepressants is something known as serotonin syndrome. This occurs when there is too much serotonin in the body and may lead to increased blood pressure and even death. This is more common in dogs than it is in humans, and they need to be closely monitored to observe reactions to the medication.