Anti depressants are often used in dogs to treat behavioral problems including separation anxiety and excessive barking. They can make a big difference to a dog’s quality of life, as they feel relaxed and are less stressed.
These drugs increase the amount of a specific chemical in your dog’s brain called serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter, involved in transmitting chemical messages from a nerve cell to an adjacent cell. It is often called the “feel good” chemical, and will improve your dog’s mood and appetite, and generally make him feel good.
Serotonin also helps your dog learn new behaviors,so if your vet has recommended a training program to change his behavior, it will be effective sooner than if your dog didn’t take the medication.
These effects in combination make anti-depressants an important part of treating behavioral problems in our dogs. However, it can often take 4-6 weeks for them to take effect, so they are certainly not a quick fix.
Canine anti-depressants are very safe, and most dogs will have no problems at all while taking them. Having said that, there are some potential side effects that you should keep an eye out for.
· Some dogs are more sleepy than usual when they start the medication. This is usually only a short term problem.
· Some dogs show signs of gastro intestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Again, this doesn’t usually last very long, and can be resolved by giving the medication with food.
· Some anti-depressants can lower the “seizure threshold” in dogs, so if a dog has any tendency to have a seizure, even if it has never happened before, it may happen when he starts taking an antidepressant. Some drugs are more likely to do this than others, so if your dog has a seizure when you start giving him anti-depressant medication, your vet may suggest an alternative drug.
· There is a well recognized condition called “serotonin syndrome” which occurs when there is too much serotonin in your dog’s brain. It too isn’t common, and tends to occur when your dog taking more than one drug that increase serotonin levels in the brain. Affected dogs are depressed with a rapid heart rate and trembling muscles. They recover well when the medication is stopped, but may benefit from muscle relaxants and intravenous fluids.
Although the risk of side effects from anti-depressants is relatively small, you should try a natural treatment for anxiety and behavioral problems before you resort to these medications.
Sleepytime Tonic contains a number of herbs which lower anxiety, reduce restlessness and help your dog relax. It also contains homeopathic remedies to boost your dog’s confidence and reduce shyness, and alleviate depression.
There are no side effects, and dogs find the natural honey flavor hard to resist.
Unlike anti-depressant medication, Sleepytime Tonic works within 20 minutes, which makes it ideal if your dog is afraid of thunderstorms, or becomes anxious while traveling in the car.
If your dog suffers from anxiety or stress, you can help him feel better naturally, and without any risk of side effects by making Sleepytime Tonic a regular part of his health care program.
*Information in this article is not to replace the advice of your own verterinarian and is the opinion of the author.