Pets on Prozac: Why Some Pets Need Meds to Cope

It seems these days, everyone's on something. Doctors pass out prescriptions for issues like depression, anxiety and hyperactivity as much as they once passed out aspirins. Now, it's not limited to just humans-- apparently, our pets are getting medicated, too. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association, 2.8 million dogs are taking depression and anxiety medications.

One reason a pup might be put on meds is because of separation anxiety. When pet owners work full time and have a social life, leaving the household pup behind, dogs can experience anxiety. This may lead to bad behavior, such as barking all day, scratching on doors, chewing up the furniture or your expensive shoes. Anxiety medications can keep the pet calm and safe while the owner is gone.
Some pets have social issues. Some are too aggressive while others may be terrified of people and other animals. Others might be terrified of things like storms and fireworks. A dose of Xanax or Valium can help the pooch relax a little so the stress doesn't lead to more serious health issues.

Dogs aren't the only animals who might need meds. Cats and farm animals can benefit from medications sometimes as well.

New York City's Animal Medical Center's veterinarian, Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, recommends that a pet be examined for possible physical problems that might cause undesirable behavior. If no health issues can be found, a pet owner might try behavior modification. If all else fails, drugs may be worth consideration. "Only when we've looked at everything else do we turn to antidepressants," said Hohenhaus, but they can be effective in treating emotional distress. Hey, if it’s good for the goose, it’s probably good for the family pet, too.

Photo: ABC News