About Anxiety Medications for Dogs

By Rena Sherwood
Dogs share over 400 health problems with people, including anxiety. Anxiety is a little different from depression but is still often treated with anti-depressants -- some of them human anti-depressants in a more canine-friendly dosage size. Dogs can be anxious all of the time or just in certain situations, such as riding in the car or meeting another dog. Dogs resciued from puppy farms and abusive situations often have anxiety.


Please do not give any human anti-depressants or any other kind of human medications to dogs. Human medications are made for people weighing well over 100 or 200 pounds. It is far too powerful for a dog, which weighs a lot less than a person. Giving human anti-anxiety or anti-depressants can kill a dog.

Time Frame

Anxiety medications for dogs can take many days or weeks before you notice any difference in the dog's behavior. In some dogs, it seems to work after a couple of days, while others can take at least one month. Stopping medications abruptly can make your dog sick. Always have your vet decide when lo raise or lower the dosage.


Anti-anxiety dog medications break down into the same types as antidepressants for humans. They include:

Benzodiazepams: heavyduty depressants that can knock the dog out for a few hours. This is the last ditch effort medication for incredibly severe cases. It also can be addictive. Familiar names in this family include diazepam, Xanax and Valium.

Selective Serotonin Receptive Inhibitors(SSRIs): The most often perscribed medications for dogs and people. They include Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. Not all dogs can tolerate these medications.

Tricyclic Antidepressants: tend to make a dog very thirsty and very sleepy. They can have harsh side effects for long term use, including bone marrow problems. Brand names include Elavil and Clomicalm.


Medications can't do all of the work of making your dog less fearful. You need to help train your dog to get used to new situations and to reward for good behavior. Do not punish or hit your dog for being afraid, because that will make him or her truly panicked. You also need to be sure your dog is getting a proper diet and enough exercise to burn up excess energy. You also need to have your dog throughly examined by your vet to see if pain may be cauing the anxiety.


Anxiety is a serious condition, because it may make the dog dangerous, unpredictable and destructive. The constant stress also will wear down your dog's health. Symptoms include running away blindly, cowering, shaking, panting, fainting, howling for hours on end, ripping up your home whenever you are away and chewing on themselves.
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