The Truth About Anxiety Meds for Pets

October 24, 2016

My soul-dog, Buck, suffered from severe separation anxiety and noise phobia. His condition turned our world upside down, and I can’t begin to list all the things my husband and I tried in an effort to help him overcome his issues. Some worked, some didn’t and some probably had a placebo effect…on me, that is!

Desperate, we turned to our vet who suggested medication. Many pet parents are reluctant to put their dog or cat on pharmaceuticals for anxiety, fear, and stress. They worry that their pet may become addicted or that it’s unnecessary or that it’s just plain silly to medicate an animal for anxiety, of all things!

But the truth is that fear and anxiety aren’t behavioral issues; they actually create a neurochemical reaction in the brain. In other words, the animal has no control over their fear response. It’s a little like putting someone who’s terrified of spiders into a pit filled with spiders and then asking them to remain calm.

Our vet explained that medications can help animals be more relaxed in the face of fearful stimuli. So we decided to give it a shot. After all, what did we have to lose? But as with everything else we tried, we learned a lot of things along the way, like:

Some medications take weeks to take effect.
As humans, most of us prefer instant gratification rather than delayed satisfaction. But when it comes to anxiety medications, it pays to be patient. Some can take weeks to take effect, and the initial changes may be subtle. Keeping a journal of observations is a great way to track changes and determine whether the medication is working.

No medication works for all animals.
It would be great if there was a one-size-fits-all anxiety drug for pets. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. Each animal’s chemical and physiological make-up is different, so they’ll all react differently to individual medications. If a certain medication seems ineffective, don’t give up. Work with your vet to adjust dosage and/or find the right prescription.

Medications aren’t a cure-all.
There’s no such thing as a magic pill that will “cure” your pet of their response to fear, stress, and anxiety. But medication can help take the edge off so that you can actually work on behavior modification and making positive associations with the scary things.

My hubby and I also learned that medication is far more effective when paired with other therapies like herbal supplements, pheromone diffusers, T-Touch/massage, anxiety wraps and soothing music.

Chilly, wearing his CALMZ® vest

That’s why I wish we had had the CALMZ® Anxiety Relief System when Buck was still here. After seeing how well it’s worked with my current dog, Chilly, I feel certain it would have been a great help to Buck, too. The therapeutic combination of classical music, tones and vibrations have been shown to soothe anxiety within minutes, something I’ve seen with my own eyes.

Not only that but two board-certified veterinarians I recently spoke with told me that using it in tandem with a calming medication may even result in the vet being able to reduce the dose or eliminate it altogether!

Take it from me…if you have a fearful or anxious dog, don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about the best way to treat their condition. It can save both you and your pup a lot of stress, worry, and frustration.

For more ways to live happier and healthier with pets, visit my website, Kristen Levine Pet Living.