Pets or dogs in particular, who regularly suffer from anxiety, can be administered the animal equivalent of Prozac to help them cope better with negative emotions, revealed an innovative new study.
After pet owners drew flak for administering regular doses of “human pills” akin to Prozac or fluoxetine, as well as drugs like Clomipramine and Selegiline, the results of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, have come to their aide. Pet owners, on a daily basis, were feeding Prozac so these pets wouldn’t cause a ruckus or destroy the furniture while their owners were away.
The research has for the first time, revealed how the animals “feel during the clinical treatment of behaviors associated with negative emotions.” It turns out when Prozac treatment was administered along with behavior alteration therapy; pets became much more relaxed and could cope with the anxiety associated with the daily eight-hour separation with a lot more ease than ever recorded earlier.
Left unattended, pets quickly develop a lot of anxiety. Described as separation anxiety or separation distress, it is one of the top and most common behavioral complaints of dog owners. Needless to say, usage of prescription psychoactive medication, which is strictly meant to be taken under doctor’s observation, has been a widely debated practice.
It turns out, fluoxetine – the active ingredient in Prozac for humans and Reconcile for pets which is typically used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety in humans, was quite useful in in helping the dogs feel optimistic. Though the drug may not directly influence good behavior, the study recorded positive traits and improvements in dogs which were known to show signs of separation anxiety such as barking, howling, destruction of property and toileting when alone.
As against the control group, which showed no improvement, dogs that were administered animal equivalent of Prozac, had a remarkable improvement and could “tolerate” separation for a longer duration. Speaking about the veracity of the method, Research lead Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioral Medicine at the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, said:
“For quite a while, I, like many others, have been concerned as to whether drugs such as Reconcile simply inhibit the behavior and perhaps had no effect on the animal’s mood. With the advent of new methods to assess animal welfare, we were able to answer this question and were pleased to see that, when the drug is used within normal therapeutic ranges, the dogs do indeed seem better.”
However, he did caution that it is critical the dogs undergo behavior modification programs. Merely relying on Prozac may not be the ideal solution to your pet’s anxiety issues, he cautioned.
[Image Credit | The Eye Magazine, Animal Pics]