I know how strange it sounds to many people that some pets are actually placed on behavioral medications such as Prozac, Paxil, Xanax, etc…The reality of it is simply that our beloved pets have similar neuroanatomical and nuerochemical make up as people. Pets have the parts of the brain that are necessary for feeling anxiety, fear, panic, aggression, and compulsions. In fact, our senior pets can exhibit Alzheimers as well. In pets we call it cognitive dysfunction. Scientists actually study the aging dog brain to learn more about human Alzheimers because the process, although not exactly the same, is very similar. And, did you know that a gene was just identified in the dog that was associated with compulsive disorders?
Pets can exhibit behavior problems because they are too aroused to learn new behaviors or they may have an underlying emotional disorder that prevents them from learning new behaviors. It is for these pets that behavioral medications can be used quite successfully along with behavior modification and training.
Although I personally prescribe these medication frequently, I take each case very seriously and make sure I take the time to review side effects, adverse effects, realistic expectations, etc… with the family members so we can be sure we are making the best choice for each patient. A review of the medical history is also imperative to picking the best medication(s). I often say there is no magic pill, but sometime adding in behavioral medications in the right situations is not only extremely helpful, but also, especially in cases of anxiety, fear, and panic, the most humane thing to do to give that pet the relief he or she deserves.