Use Of Medications For Canine Anxiety During Storms

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Thunderstorms can be panic-inducing for some dogs that are sensitive to the sound of thunder, lightning, wind gusts, rain, and variations in barometric pressure. In extreme cases where you cannot console your dog during storms and their health and safety are in question, you may consider consulting with your pet’s veterinarian about medication. All medications have side effects, and you must weigh the pros and cons of medication to the risk of injury/duress during a storm.

Amitriptyline is a sedative commonly prescribed to dogs for thunderstorm fear. Side effects are intense drowsiness, decreased eye moisture, and dry mouth, so your pet may pant and drink a lot of water. Your pet may also have a decreased appetite, low blood pressure, changes in heart rate, changes in blood sugar, experience headache, bloating, hard stools, or behavioral changes. Since the liver processes it, prolonged use may call for a blood test to check liver function.

Clomicalm, Prozac, and Paxil are other medications used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques. These medications increase the serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn reduces anxiety in the dog. In this more relaxed state, a dog is more likely to respond to behavior modification techniques that will help the dog cope. Side effects can include dry mouth, appetite changes, upset stomach, drowsiness, and loose stool. Your pet may experience behavioral side effects, including panic attacks, insomnia, aggression, hyperactivity, or depression. There is also always the risk that your pet may become addicted to the medication and may not be able to function properly without it. Your vet will want to assess your dog periodically for liver and kidney function, as these medications will gradually cause damage.

Talking to your veterinarian is the best way to determine an appropriate course of action to address your dog’s anxiety during thunderstorms. The risks may outweigh the benefits, or conversely, the benefits may outweigh the risks. Since each dog reacts a little differently to each medication, it may take time to identify which medication will be the best for your pet.