Drugs For Moody Mutts June 3, 2007Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Animals, Dogs, Drugs, Psychology and Behavior, Think About It.
If you didn’t already know, dogs sometimes need drugs too – just like us humans. In fact, a new drug has just been approved for dogs. It’s an antidepressant called Reconcile. If you’re not familiar with antidepressants for humans, these are drugs that work for conditions like depression or severe mood swings. Pills for a sad pooch? It seems a little far fetched but it’s true.
The drug itself is called fluoxetine and Reconcile is just the brand name that it’s sold under. You might have even heard of another brand name drug for treating depression in us humans – it’s called Prozac. Fluoxetine is the active drug in Prozac as well.
If you already know about a friend with an antidepressant-treated dog, you might be wondering: What is Miss Weird Scientist talking about? It’s not a new drug! This all comes down to something called off-label use, which veterinarians and our own doctors can and often do. Basically, a drug gets approved for one or more different health conditions. A vet can, however, still prescribe it for a condition other than the one it was approved for initially. It’s a legal practice although not everyone agrees with it and not all doctors or vets will practice it. The approval of Reconcile to be used specifically for dogs with behavioral problems means that it will get prescribed more often. So even though vets have been prescribing dogs antidepressants made to treat human depression for years, they now get to give specially dosed and yummy flavored treats to your family pet.
Um Ok..So How Does It Work?
The whole idea behind Reconcile is that it treats behavioral problems in dogs. Dogs (and humans too) have neurotransmitters in the brain that release chemicals like serotonin to keep our moods stable and also regulate things like appetite and sleep. Antidepressants are thought to correct abnormal brain chemistry and so they alter how these chemicals are regulated. This means that if a dog seems shy, nervous, aggressive or barks a lot – basically what we call antisocial behavior – he or she would probably be a candidate for Reconcile.
Having Loads Of Options
While options are good, it’s even better if they include non-drug ones too! The thing that really ruffles my feathers is I can see the potential for lots of owners who don’t look after their dogs to just stuff their hounds with drugs when the problem itself is easily corrected without pills. How about taking your dog for regular walks and fresh air? Maybe cuddles and kindness each day as well? For those who love and care for their pets but still find that there are issues, Reconcile may then be appropriate.
I will admit that dogs can get depressed, although it’s not the same as depression in humans. Perhaps a small percentage of these dogs will benefit from Reconcile. But there definitely needs to be a strict set of standards to actually assess whether your furry friend needs an antidepressant and other non-drug stuff should be tried first to treat behavioral problems.
I’ve thrown in a rather sad picture of my dog. He’s actually really happy and I think he’s just pouting so I can give him a few of his favorite liver treats. At least his treat will be real food and not the beef flavored antidepressant Reconcile.