Dog Anxiety Medication: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments For Anxious Dogs

dog anxiety medication
dog anxiety medication

Anxiety and restlessness not only occur in humans but it can be observed in dogs as well. If you own a dog, you may be well aware of how your pet can show different behaviors and personalities under specific circumstances. You might find them in a very relaxed mood and happy whenever they feel safe and in a comfort zone. However, this calm behavior changes into extremely rowdiness or anxiousness, when they feel threatened or has been triggered somehow.

Many pet owner may not be aware of the types of situations, which your dog responds to by showing a certain level of anxiety. So, if you fall under this category, it’s recommended that you must have some idea regarding your dog’s behaviors. Only then, you can understand the actual reasons behind your pet’s anxiety disorder and give them proper medication.


For those owners who are looking for some info on the best dog anxiety medication, you can go through this article. Here, you will get to know all the major symptoms that your dog can show if he or she is getting anxious for any reason. Also, it covers the list of medications and a few treatments that can help your dog to come out of anxiety.

What Are The Causes And Common Symptoms Of Anxiety In Dogs?

When it comes to the issue of anxiety, both human beings and dogs suffer it equally and must have proper medication. However, in order to select the most appropriate dog anxiety medication, you must understand the symptoms of anxiety that your dog shows. Remember, every breed of dog can have this critical behavioral disorder, which can get worse if not treated properly.

Hence, follow this list of info discussed below, which will help to know the symptoms and effective medication to treat dog anxiety. Let’s start with the major signs that indicate your dog is having anxiety issues.

Symptoms To Look For If Your Dog Is Anxious

There are a few clear signs that indicate that your dog is undergoing some stress or anxiety. So, follow these major symptoms:

  • Your dog becomes restless and displays a compulsive behavior in a normal day.

  • You find your pet barking excessively & showing aggressiveness around people, object or any situation.

  • When the dog seems to be quite depressed & inactive even when the weather is good and have no physical issues.

  • You observe that your pet is drooling & panting around in the house and even outdoors.

  • Your dog is defecating and urinating unnecessarily and seems uneasy due to certain reasons.

  • It can be an anxiety attack or behavioral disorder when you fund your dog behaving destructively.

Major Causes Of Your Dog Getting Anxious

Now that you are aware of the symptoms to understand that your dog is under anxiety attack, you must know its underlying causes. So, follow these points to identify the reasons behind your pet getting anxious.

Threats In Form Of People, Place Or Surroundings

When your dog shows an aggressive behavior out of nowhere, it can occur if he/she don’t feel comfortable due to something or someone. So, it can be any specific person, a group of people, the surroundings or any other animal that makes them anxious. Sometimes, it can also happen when they see a new visitor or a baby, who joins the family to live for a few days or for the lifetime.

It further leads to your dog getting depressed due to lack of proper attention and affections from the owner. There are dogs who can become anxious when there is any firework going on in your neighborhood. Also, your pet can be sensitive while traveling via car or flights and can show anxiety.

Due To Separation From The Owner

A few dogs can show signs of separation anxiety when the owner is not present at home for long hours. It can also happen when the family visits some other place and leaves the dog behind with a caretaker or unfamiliar people.

Aging,  Medical Issues, And Ignorance

You might even find your dog urinating and defecating all around the house if he or she is aging and having physical problems. Sometimes, a sudden change in the climate or body functions can lead to anxious behavior in dogs. If you have forgotten to feed your pet or have punished them harshly, sometimes they can show anxiety issues.

They might feel so, thinking that the owner can abandon them anytime or not loving them like before. As anxiety is a disorder hence, any mental issue and heightened emotions can also be the reason behind the anxiety of your dog.

What Kind Of Dog Anxiety Medication Is Best For Your Pet?

Even though you may feel like all these symptoms and causes are quite normal for any dog. However, in some cases, this anxiety disorder can turn so critical that your dog may need proper medications in order to overcome it. Many veterinarians recommend various antidepressants and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat such depressive disorders and anxiety issues in your pet.

However, before you check out the list of dog medications suggested by veterinary experts to treat anxiety, you must know how the antidepressants work. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are selecting the best treatment and medication to help your anxious dog.

As every dog responds differently to the anxiety disorder, hence the medications also vary as per their degree of anxiousness. So, you must consult a proper veterinary doctor and get the best medicines and therapy details to treat a dog’s anxiety. Also, if you select a particular treatment plan, you must know the benefits and side effects of giving that medicine to your dog. So, let’s discuss the basic concept of antidepressants and how it resolves anxiety disorders in dogs.

How Antidepressants Works For Treating Dog’s Anxiety Disorder?

Most dog experts refer to the issue of depression as a state of serotonin deficiency or chemical imbalance. These imbalances affect your dog’s brain and trigger various responses out of him or her. It includes the response in form of showing anxiety, which can also come out as aggressiveness, depression and many other ways. So, for most dogs, giving an antidepressant along with other medication and treatment can help to overcome anxiety quite effectively.

According to some pet researchers, these antidepressants target certain chemicals (known as neurotransmitters) and specific brain circuits. These brain cells are responsible for transmitting signals from one nerve to the other. Some of these chemicals also include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Now, when you feed your dog a certain kind of anxiety medicine, it usually consists of various antidepressants. The composition of these antidepressants decides how the neurotransmitters will behave inside your dog’s brain and reduce anxiety.

Popular Dog Anxiety Medication Recommended By Most Veterinarians

Now that you are aware of how these medications work, check these medicines prescribed by the veterinary experts mostly.

Alprazolam

As an anti-anxiety medicine, Alprazolam is quite effective in treating moderate to severe level of dog’s anxieties. You can’t expect to see quick results with this drug but, it can show full effectiveness within four weeks to at least two months of usage.

Now, it also depends on your dog’s physical and mental condition, which decides how long this medication can last to overcome anxious behavior. However, if your dog has situational anxiety especially during thunderstorms, this medicine can be helpful.

This drug falls under the benzodiazepine category of sedatives, which targets your dog’s central nervous system. Its function is to depress the anxious activities going on in certain parts of this system. It works the best when you feed this medicine to your dog beforehand on receiving sure signs of him/her getting anxious. You can get Alprazolam in form of liquid or tablets and give it to your dog with/without food.

Amitriptyline

If your dog shows frequent signs of separation anxiety or any of the other anxious tendencies, you can try Amitriptyline. This drug is a kind of tricyclic antidepressant that works in a unique way on your dog’s brain and controls his/her anxious mood.

It can reduce the level of anxiety by increasing the number of neurotransmitters and also the level of norepinephrine and serotonin. You can give this medicine in form of tablets and it can be taken with or without food. This medicine has to be tried for at least one to two weeks to treat your dog’s anxiety disorder.

Buspirone

This medication is perfect for those dogs who usually shows a tendency to develop anxiety during socialization. They can also become anxious while interacting with other dogs/pets. You can use this as a mild anti-anxiety medicine that calms your pet’s brain by activating serotonin receptors. This drug can also be given to your dog without food, but it can be effective while feeding with food.

Clomipramine

Clomipramine is an anti-anxiety medicine that got approval from the FDA for treating separation anxiety issues in dogs. This medication also falls within the category of the tricyclic antidepressant. It functions very much similar to the way as that of Amitriptyline, which is already discussed above. You can give this medicine to your dog as tablets and with or without any food.

Dexmedetomidine

This medicine is also known as Sileo in the market. The FDA has recommended veterinarians to use it to reduce anxiety in dogs. If your dog becomes anxious due to fireworks or thunderstorms, you can feed this drug to him or her.

This is a type of alpha-2 agonist, which works to reduce the level of anxiety by lowering certain brain activities. These activities usually trigger the causes that lead to your dog getting anxious. So, this medicine can lower/prevent the anxiety whenever you see your dog getting anxious.

It is available in the form of a transmucosal gel and available as a multi-dose tube. One of its important guidelines to use this medication is to put it in between your dog’s cheek and gum. So, you must make sure that your dog doesn’t swallow this medicine. Simply allow the mucous membranes to absorb it directly.  

Diazepam

This drug can also be given to your dog beforehand if they are about to become anxious. The Diazepam is a member medicine under the benzodiazepine sedative class as well, like the previously mentioned Alprazolam. Like most of the anti-anxiety drugs, this medication affects your dog’s central nervous system.

However, you can give this as a tablet or liquid form, after having food or in empty stomach. In liquid form, you can give this medicine by squirting it into your dog’s nasal passages or rectum area. Under emergency cases when the dog doesn’t eat anything, this medicine can be given as an injection.

Fluoxetine

Sometimes known as Reconcile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends this Fluoxetine for treating anxiety in dogs. This Fluoxetine falls under the class of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI).

It increases the quantity of neurotransmitter serotonin in your dog’s brain. You can feed this anti-anxiety drug in form of tablets, liquid or capsules. Your dog doesn’t require to have a proper meal before taking this medication. According to most veterinarians, this medicine can reduce the level of anxiety but can continue for more than two months.

Lorazepam

Whenever you feel like your dog can react differently and develop anxiety, you can give Lorazepam beforehand. Sometimes, known as Ativan, this drug can be a replacement or alternative to Diazepam for treating dog’s anxiety disorders.

Although this medication is one of the safest treatment for anxious dogs, sudden discontinuation can affect negatively. Your dog can show several withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, disorientation, anxiety, and diarrhea.

Hence, you must consult a veterinary expert and discuss all the side effects before using it on your dog. It is available in form of the liquid, injection and tablets can your dog can consume with or without food. The direction to use is similar to that of the Diazepam medication.

Paroxetine

This medicine also falls under the SSRI class, as mentioned already in the description below Fluoxetine. It not only treats anxiety disorders in dogs but can cure their specific behavioral problems. These behavioral disorders include phobia during thunderstorm or fireworks, hair pulling, and excessive licking.

Whenever you start this medicine for your dog, it is advisable to not stop its usage without consulting the veterinarian. It is available in tablet and liquid forms and can be taken without any food also. During the medication, try to give a proper dose of Paroxetine to your dog at the same time every day.

Sertraline

dog anxiety medication

The Sertraline is SSRI class drug that veterinary experts recommend to treat feline and canine anxiety. You may know it as Zoloft, which is helpful for treating fearful behavior and aggression tendencies in dogs and cats. This drug also works as an antidepressant and blocks serotonin receptors to treat anxiety. Your dog can take it as a tablet or liquid and not necessarily with food.

Apart from the above-discussed medications, there are other ways to prevent dog anxiety as well. These treatments can be considered as alternatives which include nutritional supplements, homeopathic medication, aromatherapy, pheromones & calming products to prevent your dog from being anxious.

So, these are some of the effective anti-anxiety medication that are helpful for dogs. But before you give any medication to your pet, consult a vet to eliminate the risks.

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