Prozac or its generic Fluoxetine is increasingly being prescribed by veterinarians across the country to treat behavioral problems in dogs like fear aggression and separation anxiety. This practice of prescribing human medications for dogs has created a lot of controversy because many dogs don’t respond to this type of medication and will experience intense side effects.

Unfortunately, behavioral problems are one of the main reasons dogs are euthanized in animal shelters or surrendered to dog rescue groups by their owners.

Prozac, or Fluoxetine, is an antidepressant that increases serotonin levels in the brain. It is frequently administered to dogs for treating separation anxiety, aggression, and other anxiety-related issues.

Prozac is usually prescribed in combination with a behavior modification program. Once the anxiety or fear levels diminish, dogs are able to learn the necessary skills to help them cope with the object or situation that is triggering their anxiety. For this reason Prozac is often prescribed for a short period of time until the behavior modification program takes hold.

Veterinarians will start a dog on a small dose of Prozac that is less than the dog needs and then gradually increase the dosage. Increases in dosage need to be done cautiously because any sudden increase or decrease in the dosage of Prozac can cause severe behavior changes in a dog.

Prozac has some serious side effects for dogs and cannot be given to a dog taking any of the following medications: monoamine oxidase inhibitors, diazepam, phenylbutazone, digoxine, or buspirone (a generic of Buspar, a psychoactive drug used to treat anxiety disorders such as severe anxiety separation issues).

Any dog who has a history of seizures should never be given Prozac and dogs on Prozac for a long period of time will need to have their liver and kidney enzymes checked regularly as long-term use can cause damage to these vital organs.

The most common side effects that dogs experience on Prozac are changes in appetite, weight gain or loss, lethargy, weakness in the limbs, or diarrhea. Unwelcome behavioral side effects include anxiety, panic attacks, hostility and aggression, restlessness, irritability, hyperactivity, trouble sleeping, or increased depression.

Some additional serious side effects that require a veterinarian exam are tremors, muscle twitching or stiffness, problems with balance or coordination, confusion, or a very rapid heartbeat. Some dogs also develop allergic reactions that cause a skin rash or hives, difficulty breathing, or a swelling of the dog’s face, lips, tongue or throat. Any of these side effects necessitate immediate discontinuance of the Prozac.

Treatment with Prozac can sometimes be beneficial in improving problematic behavior in a dog, but any dog being treated with this medication is always at risk of numerous side effects and must be watched carefully for any indications of a problem.

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3 Responses to “Prozac For Dogs?”

  1. Debbie Hennessy says:

    Now I am very concerned about my senior Sheltie female, age 12. She has demonstrated signs of dementia and aggression. And was prescribed Prozac, human dose. Now I’m wondering if I should cut dose back.

    • Susan Tombs says:

      I’m replying to your post dated April 5, 2015. Today’s date is September 28, 2015. Nearly 6 mths have passed since your post. How is your girl doing? My previous dog was a male Sheltie, who lived to see his 14th birthday. It was May 30, 2005… a very sad day indeed…

      I am reading extensively re: use of fluoxetine in canines. I only have first-hand, personal experience in its use (<15 years use myself, discontinued July 2015). Also, I am not a vet. You might find this article (link is below) of value. It is VERY detailed and informative. I have 2 Belgian Malinois. The oldest (F, 7 yr+) has ALWAYS suffered from mild Separation Anxiety, and the youngest (M, 2 yr+) began having GM seizures at the end of Dec 2014. He salivates and pants excessively when he is excited or on walks. I have NOT discussed with my vet trying out fluoxetine with either dog. The seizures basically rule out its use in the male. After enduring over 7 yrs without having any really serious consequences, I'm reluctant to put my older girl on meds, and I'm home 99% of the time (retired). I cannot ethically give you any advice regarding your dog's dosing, but I REALLY encourage you to do your homework on it. There is a LOT of v. credible information available online. As not all vets know all there is to know, and as all humans make errors… I ALWAYS do my own homework… when it comes to ANY medical situation, whether it concerns my dogs or it concerns myself!!! It really has paid off… so I would STRONGLY ADVISE EVERYONE to do it, and don't let ANY doctor try to intimidate or dissuade you from doing the same kind of personal investigating and self-educating!!! I have read a lot more, though this is a very good article to begin with:

      http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/Products/ApprovedAnimalDrugProducts/FOIADrugSummaries/ucm062326.pdf

      Feel free to email me to discuss this further. (Make sure, if you do, to remind me how we met, so I don't think you're spamming me!!!)

      You can reach me at: siriusaboutdogs@telus.net

      I don't know if this website gives you that…

    • Sara says:

      Hello! I just recently had an issue with my (now former) veterinarian because she perscribed my dog double the amount of Prozac that should be taken for dogs. It should be .5 milligrams per pound!

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