Puppy Prozac?

Unbelievable.  No, strike that.  Entirely too believable

“Pet separation anxiety is real. If you have an infection, you can’t will it away. The separation anxiety is very risky for owners and dogs,” he said. “If a pet had an infection, you wouldn’t expect it to get better on its own — same thing for separation anxiety.”

Becker ran down the list of symptoms of pet separation anxiety:

  • Destructive chewing
  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • Yawning
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation

YAWNING?  Prozac for puppies because they’re YAWNING?  THAT’S A SIGN OF SEPARATION ANXIETY?  And the rest of those “symptoms” are merely normal puppy behavior. 

You wouldn’t give your 6 month old prozac for crapping in her diaper, would you?  As John Stossel would say, “Gimme a break.”

If you believe in this crap then YOU should be on medication. 


Besides that, just pour some beer in their water dish.  It’s far cheaper.  😉

I’m joking, but as long as you give them some toys to play with, and some attention when you are home, tending to their needs–affection included–then you should have no problems. 

Unless you’re overmedicated yourself . . .


21 thoughts on “Puppy Prozac?

  1. My last Springer, Gretchie, took Prozac. She came from an abused home, and when I moved to a new apartment, she began peeing on the couch. My vet in NC told me of a study into seperation anxiety, which we joined. Within three days on the meds her problem went away. Lo and behold, prozac was the medication. Without it, she was a mess. With it, life was good. She never acted weird on it. Really, it was a life saver.

    I now have a 19 week old Springer, Emma, and work hard to help her be physically and emotionally balanced. Gretchie suffered due to her bad first two years, but even well meaning owners can create this situation by “babying” their puppy. I do excercises with Emma to help her think on her own and self-soothe without being destructive. I started right from day one with never having elaborate good-bye/hello sessions and with crate training. Between Karen Pryor’s clicker training and the Monks of New Skete, so far so good.

    I know you might think Puppy Prozac is nuts, but I think it is just the by-product of treating dogs as children and not animals. (Emma does not, nor will she ever have a stroller.) Also, I know how helpful it can be for dogs emotionally hurt by bad humans.

  2. First of all, Jacqueline, thanks for your comment.

    I’d like to begin my response to you with the information that I have three dogs of my own. One is an eight-week old puppy right now. We’ve had her for two weeks. And yes, she still pees on the floor sometimes. But these are not the first dogs I’ve had, and while far from an expert, I think I have some insight here.

    I think you’re on the right track when you say this is partly the result of people babying their animals–but not entirely. We spoil our pets to no end, but we are also firm in disciplining them appropriately. And we have a LOT of animals: three dogs, two cats, three birds, three guinea pigs, four horses (and a new foal!), and a chinchilla.

    In living among all of these animals I’ve learned a few things. Each animal has its own personality and response system. But early training with proper techniques almost always produces positive results. Good habits learned early are certainly much more desirable than trying to get a pet to “unlearn” its bad habits.

    Where I really quibble with your statement about this being a byproduct of treating dogs as children and not animals is this: Norm and I DO treat our pets as our children, yet we don’t need to put them on psychotropic medication. However, considering the pill-happy society we live in, and the disturbing trend of parents to put their children on prozac or ritalin instead of learning parenting skills and actually being parents, I can certainly see how those type of parents would put their pets on prozac.

    Now in Gretchie’s case, if I understand you correctly, there was a good deal of poor “parenting”–if you’ll allow me the term–that could perhaps never be “unlearned.” In that case medication probably was a necessary step. But the article I was citing talks about medicating for what seem to me to be normal puppy behavior. And it is very possible–and preferable, IMHO–by giving attention and discipline while we’re present with our pets–to train them so that they can amuse themselves nondestructively while we’re gone.

    Mankind has had dogs for 10,000 years. Prozac for 20. It seems like a non issue to me.

  3. My five year old Lab, Daphne, has developed a terrible fear of wind. When you can hear it blow around the house and sometimes even when you can’t, she stops eating, pants heavily (to the point of getting a good corpse tongue going) and shakes so violently that she looks like a 15 year old dog on it’s last legs. She also refuses to either go outside or, if one forces her outside, refuses to come back in. She didn’t used to behave this way, but something obviously happened that I’m not aware of, because she also didn’t used to be afraid of strangers (I took great pains to socialize her properly and train her when she was a puppy) or stairs, but these neuroses all came on at once.

    For the past six months or so, on the advice of my vet, we’ve been giving her “puppy prozac”. I can’t remember offhand what the actual medication’s name is, but the improvement has been remarkable. We give her a half a pill only when the shaking starts, as the other symptoms might be attributable to something else like just not being a big eater (she never has been, preferring instead to go on mini-fasts to let you know how cruel you’re being when you don’t share stuff off your plate with her) or having run around like a fool chasing a rabbit in the back yard.

    I have to say, it’s helped. Instead of having her daily existence thrown out of whack for a week or so after a windy day, she sleeps a bit more that day and the next day is good to go.

    You’re right, we have had dogs for 10,000 and somehow both mankind and dogkind have managed to survive things like this, at least as a species. I also know this situation isn’t necessarily the same as separation anxiety. But in some cases, there is a quality of life issue to consider. If one can make the life of one’s pet better, shouldn’t you?

  4. If one can make the life of one’s pet better, shouldn’t you?

    As I said to Jacqueline, there are probably instances where medication is needed. A previous lab that Norm and I had needed to be on seizure medication.

    But I’m specifically talking here about giving prozac to puppies because of the symptoms listed in the article. It’s just preposterous.
    A puppy chews something, so put it on a pill? A lot of this, I fear, stems from people having dogs who don’t have either the time or means to take care of them.

    We’re just way too pill-happy as a society.

  5. I agree that, as a society, we’re too quick to jump to medication, although I have mixed feelings about this now that I’m trying to get into pharmacy school…more pill popping means a bigger house for me eventually!!!

  6. I was a pharmacy technician for over two years and now I only take aspirin and the occasional (sp?) Tylenol.

    Anything else scares the crap out of me.

  7. Personally, this discussion has been a good “both sides of the story”.

    My sister’s Golden has exactly the same problem as QJ’s — freaking out during storms, etc. — and puppy Prozac makes it far more tolerable (as compared to her unmedicated habit of crawling into the cabinet under the kitchen sink and losing all bowel control).

    But also, having worked for a long time as a vet tech and a horse trainer, I am well acquainted with the “pill mentality” that most people have in terms of assuring proper behavior for themselves, their children, and — naturally — their animals.

    Part of it, I think, is that, in the bad old days, we didn’t have the money to pamper our pets the way we do today. Growing up, if I had had a dog that freaked out during a thunderstorm, given that all of them lived outside, that dog probably would have removed itself from our living situation eventually. Furthermore, when they were outside, it didn’t matter; most of what was outside we didn’t care if they destroyed. The same with our cats; the stupid ones who couldn’t take care of themselves ended up as coyote chow, and nature provided billions of scratching opportunities.

    But, in today’s society, we don’t do that — and worse, because of two incomes and such, we rarely have people at home for a good majority of the day. At the clinic, whenever someone adopted a new puppy or whatnot (which happened quite a lot), we’d usually give them a couple weeks of “bonding time” that they could spend at home taking care of matters — which I wish more people would do today.

  8. My grand-puppy (chocolate American Cocker Spaniel – 8 years old and two knee surgeries later) is family to me. He is spoiled to death. He is on seizure medicine and we get him tested to ensure all his functions (kidney, liver) are okay. Otherwise, without the meds he can wind up walking in circles and when he comes out of it he looks at us like “what’s going on?” This only developed at age 5 or so. If anything scares him (like thunder) he just gets in grandma or grandpa’s lap and cuddles with us. But not much scares him. I should have named him Napoleon. We lavish a lot of attention on him but he deserves it. Certain times of the year he has allergy pills (OTC) and those are only as needed. I hate pills myself so I don’t like making my pets take them. I knew someone w ho had a Springer Spaniel a few years ago and it was a tad hyperactive, jumping up on all the furniture, ran away and had to be chased down and brought back home, peed on the floor. I’ve heard from others that it’s common with the breed. But they said that about my Cocker Spaniel and that’s not the case. He’s a good boy. No messes but then we’re semi retired so he’s not alone much. The cats noses get out of joint but they’re fairly independent so that’s okay.

  9. I’ve hesitated to contribute to this discussion as it brings back very bad memories of living through the “emotional” melt-down of my German Shepherd at the age of 5. He had been fine up to that point, then serious phobias — first to thunder storms, then rain, then cloudy skies — out of his head terror. Believe me, terror of cloudy skies in western Washington is a bitch.

    I took him to a vet for natural methods for dealing with the problem, but unfortunately, that vet was a major quack. I finally ended up with a doc who used psychotropic medication, which granted two more years of a relatively peaceful life, until concerns increased again. So, though healthy in all other respects, I had to have the dog put down. That was about 10 years ago, so I trust that treatment knowledge has increased.

    In my dog’s case, a dog that came from “show lines”, I suspect that line breeding played a part of the problem.

  10. I think many of these problems are linked to overbreeding of dogs. The desire to have a “purebred” dog is more important to many people than the effects that such breeding has on these dogs. The “mutts” that I have had over the years have had few physical/mental problems (yes, I know this is anecdotal).

  11. Well, anecdotally, I’ve found that “mutts” are also usually much better tempered animals to begin with. So that makes sense to me, John.

    KJ, I’m so sorry for your experience.

  12. Jamie, I agree that we seem to jump the gun on giving medication, and it looks like this is sometimes the case for pets. Personally, if everything is else is equal, I prefer to not have to take medication. I find that in many cases, they simply do not work, and as a bonus, I sometimes get the side effects that worsen the original condition. Of course, there are many times when medication is necessary and helpful.

    I “adopted” a pet when my partner moved in with me over a year ago. She’s a sweet 13 year old dog, probably a blue heeler (Australian cattle dog) mix. About a year ago, she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, which is a neuromuscular autoimmune disorder. (Aristotle Onassis died from it). She has to take four different pills for it, but thankfully they are working great. She can walk almost as well as she did before, and still can jump on the bed. Sometimes the need for medication is temporary, but when we weaned her off the pills, the symptoms returned. So in this case, it’s clear to me that medication has helped and made the quality of life much better.

    MG is rare for dogs, although it is common for Jack Russell Terriers. If your dog regurgitates constantly and/or collapses on their hind legs more than usual, consider suggesting MG as a possibility to your vet. In fact, it was those two symptoms together when the vet finally determined that MG may be the cause.

  13. “MG is rare for dogs, although it is common for Jack Russell Terriers. If your dog regurgitates constantly and/or collapses on their hind legs more than usual, consider suggesting MG as a possibility to your vet. In fact, it was those two symptoms together when the vet finally determined that MG may be the cause.”

    Thanks for the tip–one of our dogs, “Micky,” is a Jack Russell Terrier, and the runt of his litter. The only purebred animal we have, actually. I’ll know now to be on the alert for this.

  14. Jamie, no problem. Just to clarify, I meant to say that the occurrence of MG is more common for Jack Russell Terriers than other breeds. I’m not sure how common it actually is though.

  15. John is very definitely right. Dogs are extraordinarily overbred these days, unfortunately, and that creates a lot of problems. The hybrid vigor that comes from crossing breeds really helps in terms of health and temperament.

    And Pat, if she’s a Heeler cross, she’ll look a lot like the NDT Mascot — who is a pureblood Blue Heeler.

  16. Pedigrees in the homo sapien family haven’t necessarily produced the best results either. Gotta make sure that family tree forks.

  17. Sigh, good point. Two of my great grandparents were second or third cousins, so I can always blame any shortcomings on that. 🙂 And Queen Elizabeth II and her husband are third cousins (great-great grandchildren of Victoria) and there seem to be issues there.

    NDT, yes our furry four-legged female looks very similar to NDT Mascot, including the face, ears, and fur. She has the same colors, but very little black and much lighter coat in general. The body shape is about the same, but she is a bit overweight. She was even before she got sick. With the medication, she is ALWAYS hungry and whimpers to let us know that. At least she hasn’t put on more weight.

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