Prozac for Pets

i-e3a5079804addfbdf2fba49b4f97365f-lolcat_hatemyself.jpgFortune has announced the year's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, including Prozac for dogs.

"Thank God. We've been so worried since Lucky dyed his hair jet black and started listening to the Smiths."

"Eli Lilly wins FDA approval to put Prozac into chewable, beef-flavored pills to treat separation anxiety in dogs."

It's not just dogs - cats are treated with SSRI antidepressants, along with psychotherapy. If treatment fails to calm behaviour, the next step is neutering. Imagine that veterinary approach integrating with current practices for humans. Patients who have trouble with adhering to prescribed meds might become more motivated in that scenario.

"I asked ''The feline Freud' Carole Wilbourne: if Prozac might not be the answer for [difficult cats], what about psychotherapy?

She pointed out that dogs with OCD respond very well to Prozac [as do humans with OCD], and sometimes owners mistake changes as negative side effects when in fact things like slackened muscles and a trance-like appearance are signs the cat is relaxing. And just as some humans become more agitated and suicidal from SSRIs, animals can turn more aggressive.

Also as in humans, drugs aren't the whole answer. "Sometimes drugs can work but I'd rather start on a behavioral program," said Wilbourne.

Via Mind Hacks
Read more about Carole Wilbourne's work
Also read the funny Barking at Prozac, with dogs speaking on their unique experiences with meds.


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As ridiculous as I have always found prozac for dogs, I have to admit that since I have worked in animal shelters and vet offices for a number of years I have seen a number of pet dogs who get so upset when they are left alone that they will do anything from destroy the house, urinate inside, hyperventilate, bark themselves hoarse, throw up, or any other number of things (and these are animals which were already neutered - it's a standard practice, not a last resort). This what happens when you domesticate a pack animal, train them to regard you as their entire family/social unit, and leave them alone for 8 hours day. I'm not one of those crazy people who things dogs is people, but if you own an animal you are responsible for it and if it undergoing severe mental anguish (and ruining your curtains to boot), just pay for the damn prozac!

Actually, our vet prescribed Prozac for our cat -- not for depression, but for hostility and aggression. (When my partner and I moved in together and moved my cat in with my partner's cats, my cat became aggressive to the point of being unmanageable.)

And while I realize this is anecdotal (or at best, a sampling size of one), it seems to work. With the Prozac, the cat is difficult and cranky, but manageable. When she goes without it for a few days (for a while she was rejecting the wet food we ground the pill up into), she tries to take our faces off.

I'm a little puzzled as to why this is such a dumb idea. Obviously not all meds are effective on both people and other animals -- but also obviously, some of them are. And if I'm not mistaken, some meds work differently on different species (e.g., some animal tranquilizers are used by people as hallucinogens). I'm not a doctor or a vet, but it doesn't seem absurd to me that an anti-depressant in humans could reduce anxiety or aggression in pets.

And before you ask: Yes, we tried everything else first. Meds were our last resort.

I don't think it's dumb at all, Greta. I doubt the staff at Fortune know much about psychopharmacology in either humans or pets. At first glance you can make silly jokes, but as you and Lycaon pointed out, it is effective.

Probably people think it's funny because they're skeptical about drug companies in general and think this is just another marketing ploy rather than something truly beneficial. Those people could do with a dose or two of PharmAmorin. ;-)

Although I can see humour in both sides, I do find it annoying when people make judgments about drugs they know nothing about, have never taken, and don't know anyone who takes it. I've known many people who were helped by Prozac and the huge number of studies aren't fake either. Depression, and pet anxiety, are very real and can be treated effectively with meds.

The creation museum, however, requires no thought whatsoever; it's entire point is to gratify those who already agree and con others into believing due to intuition and feelings rather than actual science

The timing on this post is uncanny! I just dropped $200 at my vet's office on labwork to find out why my beloved cat Turbo had lost so much weight, had stopped eating, had become antisocial and had that "Mommy, I hurt" look in his beautiful eyes (you cat owners know what I'm talking about!). The results? Turbo is perfectly healthy. Physically, anyway. The problem? A new cat introduced into our household a month ago who has been receiving more attention than Turbo. And better food. And his favorite couch.... OK, I'm a horrible Mom I admit it. But none of the other 5 cats got depressed.... Anyway, I've been lavishing love and attention on my little boy every day and his behavior is returning to normal. Lesson well learned. I'm not a big fan of drugs for pets, but if he hadn't responded as he did, I certainly would have discussed this option with my vet.

Another single point of anecdotal data. We give our 10 yr. old Samoyed prozac. As he has gotten older, he tends to have a hair-trigger startle response and will jump up and snap - especially when he has been sleeping. The daily prozac doesn't eliminate this - but it has reduced it to a considerable extent. We could try increasing the dosage - but the current situation is tolerable.

I agree with the assessment that the FORTUNE staff doesn't see the big picture. Kind of reminds me of the old Proxmire "Golden Fleece" awards - often seemed to honor dumb things - until you looked into them.

By Dave Gill (not verified) on 22 Dec 2007 #permalink

this post is really interesting.. It's funny how psychologist and drug profits could push the boundaries of what to treat.. From treating psychotic persons to treating psychotic and depressed animals. Are there going to be Prozac for grasshopers and cows?

This what happens when you domesticate a pack animal, train them to regard you as their entire family/social unit, and leave them alone for 8 hours day. I'm not one of those crazy people who things dogs is people, but if you own an animal you are responsible for it and if it undergoing severe mental anguish (and ruining your curtains to boot)

I've heard it can also be used to reduce aggression in male pet rats. Hey, the rats might as well benefit since they probably gave up their lives in the thousands during the testing of these drugs.