Big Pharma and Your Dog’s Anxiety
Dog anxiety is a big problem, and now it is big business too. Prozac nation apparently isn’t enough, the FDA has approved three antidepressants to manage your puppy’s frantic behavior when you are leaving him.
The Dog Whisperer recommends calmly preparing to leave while ignoring the dog until just before going, then lead it to its happy place, a blanket, dog bed, favorite corner, etc, and “staying” the dog.
Another training method is to simply leave the dog for very brief periods of time. When you return, do NOT make a big fuss over the dog until it calms down.
Doing this with puppies from the very start is usually the best way to avoid the problem in the first place.
But in this drug-happy country, we have moved far beyond time-consuming training and tryptophan pills (the chemical in turkeys which make you sleepy after a big meal.)
Dramamine, which you may already have for travel sickness, is also a mild tranquilizer, but many people who don’t have time for their dogs to calm down on their own have turned to the same powerful drugs used on suicidal humans.
Stop Dog Anxiety With Pheromones
In addition to the chemical tranquilizers which are actually a kind of sleeping pill and are quite safe, IF intended for dogs, there are chemicals which work directly on the brain.
These are pheromones which come in many varieties and affect both animals and humans.
Pheromones are what cause people to like each other or be attracted to each other and are found in perfumes and other places.
Chocolate contains phenylamine, which is not a pheromone itself but which generates them in people when consumed (do I need to say that in dogs chocolate only generates possible death!) and chocolate is associated with raising mood and libido. Chilies contain capsaicin which releases endorphins, which in turn, can arouse sexual desire.
For dogs, a number of calming pheromones have been discovered and are available as relatively inexpensive sprays suitable for places such as cars and crates.
Sounds can calm dogs just as they can people.
I often use rain forest sounds or a bedside sound generator.
For dogs who fear thunder, obviously you can use rain if that doesn’t trigger fear of future thunder, or things like streams and ocean sounds with bird calls and wind noise.
The same sort of classical music which you might use to let you relax will work with dogs, as will anything mimicking a heartbeat – it works for babies especially well, both canine and human.
Sound generators usually have such a setting.
FDA Chimes In
Although probably not needed for the vast majority of dogs, in extreme cases (or when owners aren’t willing to try the easy methods), there are powerful drugs which should never be used in combination with any other pills or sprays except possibly hormone/pheromone sprays.
Fluoxetine is an SSRI drug (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitor) which helps control anxious and OCD behavior, depression, and aggression.
It is intended to include drowsiness but can cause digestive upset.
Unfortunately it can have the exact opposite result causing hyperactivity.
In my personal experience as an AKC dog breeder (Bouvier des Flandres), I often suggested that the one requiring tranks wasn’t the canine but the two legged partner. In fact, human anxiety may well be worse than dog anxiety.