Fluoxetine in dogs is a relatively new drug in some parts of the world, but it is already one of the most controversial drugs among both the medical community as well as owners.
It does seem to provide some benefits when it is used properly, but there are many on the other side of the argument that suggest the side effects far out way the benefits.
However, there is one important factor that all owners should consider.
It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, for use in animals.
With that being said, it is still prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra label drug.
In fully understanding Fluoxetine in dogs, it is very helpful for any owner to fully understand the term extra label drug.
An extra label drug definition is a use of a drug in a way or a purpose that is not specified on the label or the documents that are provided for that drug by the manufacturer.
Because of this, if there is any type of adverse reaction from the drug that causes any type of loss, injury, or even death, is not the responsibility of the drug manufacturer.
Instead, the responsibility is placed into the hands of the veterinarian.
However, it is also very helpful to understand that extra label drugs are commonly used in most any veterinary practice.
Although they may be very effective in people, they have not been approved for animals and carry this extra label stigma.
But this is still one drug that any owner should take a second look at as well as asking a lot of questions before it is allowed to be used in your dog.
Fluoxetine in dogs is perhaps better known as Prozac, and is an anti-anxiety drug that is most commonly used for behavioral problems.
The side effects are just one part of the building controversy, as there is also a lot of concern with owners that even with this drug, a large majority of dogs do not respond without behavior modification treatments in addition.
Because of this, many will question that actual overall effectiveness of Fluoxetine.
But there are always two sides to every argument.
There is one fact that many owners cannot dispute; behavioral problems are one of the leading causes, if not the leading cause, of dogs being taken to shelters as well as euthanized in many cases.
Because of this sad fact, this drug may be the only way to save a dog with behavioral issues, especially if they are aggressive.
Fluoxetine in dogs increases the serotonin levels in the brain and is used for three primary conditions; separation anxiety, obsessive compulsion activity, as well as aggression.
There are also some cases where the drug is used to treat very itchy skin conditions that will not respond to any other form of treatments.
With this drug, your veterinarian will start your dog out on very small doses and then very gradually increase it.
However, if you do decide to use this drug, there is one other aspect to strongly consider and discuss with your professional; increasing or decreasing it.
Either sudden increases, or the inverse, sudden decreases, can cause your dog to have severe behavior changes.
If your dog is on Fluoxetine and cannot handle it, they must very gradually be taken off it in lower dosages.
In most every case it will take at least six to eight weeks for this powerful drug to be deemed ineffective in your dog.
As effective as this drug can be for some dogs, it is very important to reiterate that are several side effects that may affect your dog.
Fluoxetine in dogs, even with the myriad of potential side effects, is still considered safe in many circles, but only if it is given by your veterinarian and then monitored very closely.
However, there are several drugs that may interact with Fluoxetine and for this reason it should only be given by your regular veterinarian that knows your dog’s history.
Outside of the drug interactions, the most common side effects of fluoxetine in dogs will be a gradual development of lethargy that will also affect your dog appetite.
Once this occurs, it is very common for dogs to stop eating for extended periods of time, which in turn leads to weight loss.
Anytime your dog loses their appetite and starts to lose weight, it affects their overall health.
The reason is simple; it threatens their nutrient source of several very important vitamins and minerals, which may then jeopardize the health of their immune system.
However, this is only the beginning.
The next set of side effects include a runny nose as well as what is referred to as dry mouth.
These conditions can very easily develop into a sore throat in your dog and then very quickly lead to both drowsiness as well as a general overall weakness.
Nausea as well as diarrhea is also real threats with this drug.
However, one of the most interesting and challenging set of side effects are the behavioral changes it can have on your dog.
Some dogs will develop the exact symptoms that Fluoxetine is intended to correct.
This will include both anxiety and panic attacks, as well as trouble sleeping for any length of time.
Agitation and irritability are also potential side effects, as well as sudden bouts of aggression, even in dogs that have never been aggressive.
Your dog may also suddenly have extended bouts of restlessness, hyperactivity, as well as depression.
Because of the litany of side effects, especially those that this drug is intended to correct or decrease, is the major reason it has become so controversial.
For this reason, if these side effects appear in the first few weeks of treatments, you need to notify your veterinarian as soon as possible.
However, the list is still not complete.
If you use this drug for any extended period of time, your dog will have to have their liver as well as their kidney enzymes checked regularly, as long term usage can cause damage to both.
Fluoxetine in dogs can also cause tremors as well as muscle twitching, problems with their balance, as well as overall confusion.
It can also cause sweating and an accelerated heart beat in your dog. If your dog is allergic to this drug at all, they may develop hives, skin rashes, or swelling of their tongue, face, lips, or worse yet, their throat.
If any of these allergic side effects happen, you will have to discontinue it immediately, but then your will face the challenges of other side effects of stopping it too quickly.
There is still one other potential and very devastating side effect; seizures.
Seizures are not as common as several of the other side effects, but if they do occur, they can very easily take the life of your dog.
Fluoxetine in dogs may help your dog with separation anxiety, obsessive compulsion activity, as well as aggression. But it may also cause a literal myriad of potential side effects.
This is one drug that all owners should take a very long and hard look at.
It may be the only possible chance there is from saving your dog from the shelter or something even worse, but is it really worth all of these risks?