A Guide to Understanding and Managing Side Effects of Anxiety Medications in Dogs
It’s challenging enough to have a dog with anxiety, but then to have side effects from the conventional drugs… .very concerning 🙁
Fortunately there are many alternative options – we have combined the BEST ones into our New Calming Chews: Dr Jones’ COMPLETE Canine Calming Chews
Conventional Anti-anxiety Meds for Dogs: SERIOUS Side Effects
Clomicalm (clomipramine hydrochloride) is the most popular veterinary drug being touted to help rid animals of their anxiousness. Clomicalm is believed to act on the central nervous system (CNS) as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, similar to the human anti-depressant Prozac. This action reduces the clinical signs of separation anxiety. Although it can cause lethargy in some dogs, it does not function as a sedative. The drug is not designed to work as a “cure" for depressed dogs, but instead it reduces anxiety in dogs to make behavior training easier
The FDA’s study of the drug involved about 200 dogs, half given Clomicalm with behavior training, and half given just behavior training and a placebo. After one week of treatment, 47 percent of the dogs on the drug showed improvement, while only 29 percent of the dogs just receiving training improved. This speed is the drug’s main selling point – the early success of the drug may encourage owners to continue treatment and training instead of getting rid of their dog. But the numbers leveled off after eight weeks of testing, with just 65 percent of the Clomicalm dogs showing improvement compared to 55 percent of the placebo dogs. Based on the FDA study, it seems behavior training alone is almost as effective as the drug.
Pharmaceutical Side Effects
Like most drugs, Clomicalm does have its share of side effects, warnings and contraindications. Side effects noted in the FDA study include vomiting (seen in 25 percent of the dogs in the study), diarrhea (11 percent), lethargy (10 percent), increased thirst (five percent), and appetite fluctuations (three percent).
The drug is not typically used to treat aggression (certain exceptions exist), is unsuitable for male breeding dogs because of an increased risk of testicular hypoplasia, and is not for puppies less than six months old. Dogs with cardiovascular disease, narrow angle glaucoma, or a history of seizures should also not use the drug. Clomicalm is also not to be combined with other drugs that act on the central nervous system, such as general anesthetics, and should be discontinued as long as possible before elective surgery.
According to the Clomicalm website, “When used in conjunction with the Preventic collar or Anipryl tablets an undesirable reaction may occur." That “undesirable reaction" is not specified on the site or in Novartis’ disclosure statement, but according to Pfizer’s disclosure statement for Anipryl, combining the two drugs can lead to “severe CNS toxicity including death."
P.S. If you can, try the alternatives, along with behavioral modification first. And please be aware of the side effects if your dog is on any type of anti-anxiety medication.
Our Natural Dog Calming Chews may help!
You can get them at:Dr Jones’ COMPLETE Canine Calming Chews
P.P.S. About our upcoming webinar: I am also going to be answering your most pressing dog health and nutrition questions (including those about What to feed, … but you NEED to be on the webinar to ask them. We only have 500 available spots, but already 2700 have signed up… . fortunately not everyone who signs up attends.