Fluoxetine (brand names: Prozac®, Reconcile®, Sarafem®) is an SSRI antidepressant used to treat a variety of behavioral disorders in dogs and cats. The FDA approved form for dogs is labeled to treat separation anxiety.
Its use in cats, dogs, and birds to treat certain behavioral conditions is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.
When veterinarians prescribe Prozac (fluoxetine as generic) for dogs, it’s the same medication you would receive from your doctor for a similar issue just in a different dosage. It’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), meaning it blocks your body from reabsorbing serotonin. When levels of this neurotransmitter are higher in the brain, it’s thought to improve mood. Does your dog need anti-anxiety medication?
Before prescribing anti-anxiety meds, your vet needs to rule out a medical cause. Dog anxiety can be triggered by internal issues such as irritability caused by allergies or even pain caused by osteoarthritis Once an underlying condition is ruled out, a veterinary behaviorist will assess your dog’s social and environmental history and anxiety episodes. “It’s not really always about figuring out the ‘why,’ but how to move forward,” Dr. Pike says. A diagnosis—such as fear-based aggression with people and dogs—will be followed by a prognosis. A treatment plan including medications and behavioral modification will also be made.
Uses Of Fluoxetine For Dogs
Fluoxetine can be used to treat several conditions in dogs. Vets usually prescribe it with a behavior modification program until the condition is under control. Then they wean the dog off the drug until they can manage the condition without the use of medication.
Here are some of the conditions in dogs that veterinarians may treat with fluoxetine:
- Compulsive disorders
- Separation anxiety
- Noise anxiety, including thunderstorm phobia
Dosage Of Fluoxetine For Dogs
Dosage of fluoxetine for dogs will vary based on the condition that needs treatment, the size of the dog, and the dog’s response to the drug. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely, as overdose of fluoxetine can cause seizures in dogs.
Typically the drug is given in a dosage of 0.5 to 0.9 mg per pound orally once per day. So, for example, a 30-pound dog would probably get somewhere between 15 and 27 mg per day. Fluoxetine usually comes in 10 mg or 20 mg tablets, and your vet will let you know how to give a precise dose.
How is fluoxetine given
Fluoxetine is given by mouth in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid. It may be given with or without food, but if your pet vomits when dosed on an empty stomach, give future doses with a meal or a treat. Measure liquid forms of this medication carefully. Do not stop this medication abruptly unless instructed by your veterinarian. Do not give this medication in conjunction with flea/tick collar use. Do not give aged cheeses to your pet while using this medication.
This medication can take up to a few weeks before full effects are noted, and at times improvement may not be visibly obvious. Laboratory tests may be needed to evaluate this medication’s effectiveness.
Fluoxetine Side Effects
- Dogs: Sedation and anorexia are the most-commonly reported side effects. Other side-effects include GI upset and behavior changes (anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, and insomnia). Aggression (very uncommon) and seizures also have been reported.
- Cats: Anorexia and behavior changes (anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity/insomnia, and elimination behavior) are the most-commonly reported side effects in cats. Anorexia is a common-enough side effect in the cat that the client should monitor the cat’s appetite and weight. Dermatitis may occur at the site of transdermal application.
- Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening, iatrogenic drug-reaction caused by excessive intra-synaptic serotonin. It is very rare in animals but may occur when multiple serotonergic drugs are administered, with an overdose or in instances of individual hypersensitivity. This most-commonly occurs with a combination of SSRI and MAOI medications, although there are some opioid analgesics with serotonergic activity. Symptoms include neuromuscular hyperactivity, hyperthermia, autonomic hyperactivity, and altered mental status.
- Fluoxetine usually is not prescribed for animals with diabetes mellitus or seizure disorders. Animals with impaired liver function may need reduced a dose.
- There are active metabolites of fluoxetine for four to five weeks after discontinuing the drug.
- Some animals appear to stop responding to an individual SSRI medication. This also occurs in humans but it has not been studied widely in dogs and cats.
Prices of Prozac For Dogs
$10.35 – $21.35