Fluoxetine for dogs is a special formulation of the antidepressant medication known as fluoxetine. While its use in human population is in the management of major depression, bulimia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even panic disorders, its primary indication in the canine population is for the management of canine aggression as well as obsessive compulsive disorders and anxiety. It belongs to the class of antidepressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs. It is available in 10- and 20-milligram capsule formulations and can only be obtained with a prescription from a veterinarian.
Fluoxetine hydrochloride is primarily indicated in the following conditions in dogs.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by repetitive behavior. In dogs, it can take many forms such as constant tail-chasing or even licking of the paws as in cats.
Canine depression is a very intriguing topic since there really is no way to categorically ascertain the existence of depression in dogs in a manner that closely resembles the way we define depression in man. However, as long as there is an unexplained reduction in the physical activity of dogs and supported by other clinical manifestations, then depression can be diagnosed.
Other forms of canine anxiety may also benefit from the administration of fluoxetine. This is especially true among pooches that have known behavioral issues.
Benefits of Fluoxetine
The amazing benefits of fluoxetine hydrochloride for dogs can be attributed to the nature of the drug in managing various depressive and anxiety states in dogs. These can easily translate into the following benefits.
- Calmer and more relaxed pooch
- More trainable pooches
- Improved nutrition
- Easier administration
How Fluoxetine Works
Fluoxetine hydrochloride works by selectively inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in the nerve endings in the brain. This produces two effects. First, since serotonin is not sent back immediately to the nerve endings, there is a greater concentration of serotonin in the synapse or junction between nerve cells. This allows its relaxing effects to be felt by the dog for a substantially longer period of time. This is what helps calm down or relax dogs that are overly anxious such as those with obsessive-compulsive behavior.
The second effect of the slowed-down reuptake of serotonin is that there is a commensurate increase in both dopamine and norepinephrine in other parts of the nerve cell. These two neurotransmitters help in the regulation of the dampening effects of serotonin so that those dogs that are in depression will have an overall improvement in mood and sense of enjoyment.
Potential Side Effects
One of the greatest drawbacks to fluoxetine is related to its effects on the central nervous system. As such, if you see any of the following manifestations in your dog, you should bring your pet to the vet immediately.
- Convulsions or seizures
- Shivering or tremors
- Reddish skin accompanied by blisters and excessive peeling
- Problems with sleeping
- Agitation, aggression, irritability, or hostility
- Problems with coordination or balance
- Muscle twitching or stiffness
- Very rapid heart beat
- Mood or behavior getting worse
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
- Increased depression
The following side effects can also be expected from the administration of fluoxetine in dogs. However, unlike the side effects above, these are generally considered to be mild.
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Changes in appetite
- Dry mouth
- Weight changes
As always, if your dog presents with swollen lips, tongue, or face or shows difficulty breathing or even skin rashes, then it’s important that you bring your pet immediately to the clinic as it may already be suffering from an allergic reaction.
Things You Should Know about Fluoxetine
It will take about 3 to 4 weeks of continued use before you can expect to see any results from your pooch. As such it is important to adhere to the therapeutic regimen advised by your veterinarian. Also it is important to withhold the administration of fluoxetine if your pet is also receiving a monoamine oxidase inhibitor like selegiline and Anipryl as well as Mitaban Dip and Preventic collar. It is also crucial to inform your vet in case there are worsening symptoms or you see any of the side effects we outlined above.
What You Should Tell Your Vet before He Prescribes Fluoxetine
You should always discuss with your vet any medications that your pooch is currently having before the administration of fluoxetine. This is to make sure there are no untoward drug reactions. Any allergies to the components of fluoxetine should also be established before the initiation of therapy. If your pet is pregnant, lactating, or has history of seizures, diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disease, your vet needs to know them, too.
How to Give Fluoxetine to Your Dog
Always give fluoxetine according to your vet’s specific instructions. Bear in mind that it takes about 3 to 4 weeks before you see noticeable results. It is important not to stop the dosage without consulting your vet first. It is also important to store fluoxetine in a safe place and at room temperature, preferably away from heat and moisture as well as from your kids and other pets.
What to Do If You Miss a Dose
Missing a dose doesn’t mean you should make up for it by doubling the next dose. If the next dose is still quite far, then you should give the missed dose immediately. If not, simply skip it and just proceed with the next one as if you did not miss a dose.
What to Do in Case of Fluoxetine Overdose
As in any case of drug toxicity or overdose in dogs, your immediate reaction should be to bring your canine friend to an emergency vet facility.
Some Drug Interactions
Carprofen, etodolac, piroxicam and similar drugs when used concomitantly with fluoxetine can increase the risk of bleeding or bruising. Digoxin, warfarin, amitriptyline, diazepam, imipramine, and phenytoin can also have adverse interactions with fluoxetine. It’s important to seek your vet’s advice whenever your pooch is taking anything else whether it’s a medicine, a supplement, or a nutraceutical.
Fluoxetine for dogs is an effective drug for managing a variety of behavioral and anxiety-related problems in dogs. It works on a variety of neurotransmitters in the brain and as such may also have serious side effects. Strict adherence to the regimen is required if you want your pooch to get all the benefits of using fluoxetine.