Would Prozac work?

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Would Prozac work?

This is a discussion on Would Prozac work? within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My lovely Australian Cattle dog as some fear aggression issues. I rescued him in September and he's a little over a year and a half ...

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Old 05-13-2016, 06:01 PM
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Would Prozac work?

My lovely Australian Cattle dog as some fear aggression issues. I rescued him in September and he's a little over a year and a half old. He's always had some issues with strangers, well, mostly men. He's came very close to biting my trainer, as well as a couple family members. Since using positive reinforcement he has become much better with people coming in and out of the house. I still don't trust him though. He seems to be sketched out by just about any man, even my FIL who has known him since the 3rd day we got him ! The other day he lunged at someone while my GF was walking him, which I would have never expected!

I'm hoping Prozac (or something similar) could help him relax around new people and in anxiety provoking situations. He really is so good, he listens really well off leash, he's excellent in the house (minus some food stealing), he is so sweet with everyone he knows... It just makes me so angry that this issue holds us back from doing so much! But most of all I want him to just feel comfortable, happy and not feel the need to be on edge and defend himself all the time.
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Old 05-14-2016, 12:44 AM
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If you are wanting to put him on that type of medicine please talk to a veterinary behaviorist. One of them will be best able to advise you on if your dog should be on medicine, and what to expect. From everything I've read, the medicine is very likely to make him worse for a few weeks before you really start to see any improvement in him. Also you'll need to do behavioral modification in addition to the medicine, don't just rely on it.

Check out these two websites, they have a lot of tips and advice on working on reactive and fearful dogs. The fearfuldogs one has a section on behavioral medications and the best ones to use.
Fearfuldogs.com
Care for Reactive Dogs
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Old 05-14-2016, 07:41 AM
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Paging @PoppyKenna who has a reactive dog. She's been working with him for quite some time, and he has recently begun a medication regime, and I'm sure she will have useful advice for you.
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Old 05-14-2016, 10:39 AM
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Oh, gosh. It's frustrating, isn't it? My little guy is such a happy, bouncy goofball of a dog until he goes into reactivity mode. It really is so sad that he's so scared, and (probably selfishly) it's sad for me that I can't get out there and share him with the world. If he weren't so reactive, he'd have so many friends. He's just got a great personality otherwise.

For me, putting him on meds is a continuing journey. My old vet wouldn't entertain the idea of anything but Ace (Ace is very, very bad). I asked another vet who said he needed meds but she also wanted to do training with me, which I understand is totally necessary (we also work with a trainer) but her methods made me really uncomfortable. So another dead end.

His current vet did bloodwork to make sure he was healthy - he is - and agreed that he needed something more intense than just supplements as his fear was severe. Funny too because I thought he actually acted pretty decent at the vet - he certainly wasn't at his worst! She was reserved about putting him on Prozac because it can lower bite inhibition. She prescribed Trazodone and Xanax as needed instead.

Like with human meds, it differs totally between dogs and what will work well and what won't. Xanax doesn't seem to work with my Chisum - it makes him super wired and still anxious. Trazodone will need longer to "kick in" so I'll reserve judgement but it mostly just makes him a little sleepy and not really any less anxious. Yesterday my parents left for the weekend (I'm living at home while I finish my degree) and he was a disaster. So, so anxious.

Prozac may work for your dog. Based on what my vet says when I update her in a few weeks, we may or may not give it a go ourselves. Trazodone seems to be more for insomnia and as a supplement to an SSRI so while it seems like a "safe" choice it may not be as beneficial as we'd hoped. It's always worth a try.

Being an SSRI, keep in mind that it will take a while to properly work and the first few weeks might be rough. I have anxiety and depression and take an SSRI for it myself (escitalopram). My docs tapered me up from 5 to 10 to 20mg where I'm at right now. There is benefit to tapering up...the side effects are usually not as intense. They were really intense when I first started and was adjusting, but were a little less intense when I went up to 10 and when I bumped up to 20 there were almost none. My doc also prescribed a benzo to take the edge off a bit.

So, in dog terms - it may be best to start low and work your way up. It'll take longer to get to that magic dose and you may have little setbacks with each increase but in the long run it may not be as traumatic overall. Your vet may also suggest something for situational anxiety or to give if your dog seems to be struggling.

And, if Prozac doesn't work there are other options out there.

First step is to either talk to a veterinary behaviorist if you have any around (we don't) or see how knowledgeable your current vet is about these kinds of medications. My current vet isn't a veterinary behaviorist but is in contact with one in OH whom she calls for advice - not all vets will do this, but it's helpful. Some vets are more willing than others to prescribe these things, which is sad. Some dogs just have that imbalance, just like us people.

Best of luck to you.
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Last edited by PoppyKenna; 05-14-2016 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 05-15-2016, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Rain View Post
If you are wanting to put him on that type of medicine please talk to a veterinary behaviorist. One of them will be best able to advise you on if your dog should be on medicine, and what to expect. From everything I've read, the medicine is very likely to make him worse for a few weeks before you really start to see any improvement in him. Also you'll need to do behavioral modification in addition to the medicine, don't just rely on it.

Check out these two websites, they have a lot of tips and advice on working on reactive and fearful dogs. The fearfuldogs one has a section on behavioral medications and the best ones to use.
Fearfuldogs.com
Care for Reactive Dogs
I will try to find a veterinary behaviorist, or ask my vet if he can recommend someone who is familiar with using psychiatric drugs to treat dogs.

Any medications will be use in conjunction with retraining. I don't plan on giving him a pill and having it all go away. What I'm hoping for is for him to be less reactive and a little more open to new people.
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Old 05-15-2016, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by PoppyKenna View Post
Oh, gosh. It's frustrating, isn't it? My little guy is such a happy, bouncy goofball of a dog until he goes into reactivity mode. It really is so sad that he's so scared, and (probably selfishly) it's sad for me that I can't get out there and share him with the world. If he weren't so reactive, he'd have so many friends. He's just got a great personality otherwise.

For me, putting him on meds is a continuing journey. My old vet wouldn't entertain the idea of anything but Ace (Ace is very, very bad). I asked another vet who said he needed meds but she also wanted to do training with me, which I understand is totally necessary (we also work with a trainer) but her methods made me really uncomfortable. So another dead end.

His current vet did bloodwork to make sure he was healthy - he is - and agreed that he needed something more intense than just supplements as his fear was severe. Funny too because I thought he actually acted pretty decent at the vet - he certainly wasn't at his worst! She was reserved about putting him on Prozac because it can lower bite inhibition. She prescribed Trazodone and Xanax as needed instead.

Like with human meds, it differs totally between dogs and what will work well and what won't. Xanax doesn't seem to work with my Chisum - it makes him super wired and still anxious. Trazodone will need longer to "kick in" so I'll reserve judgement but it mostly just makes him a little sleepy and not really any less anxious. Yesterday my parents left for the weekend (I'm living at home while I finish my degree) and he was a disaster. So, so anxious.

Prozac may work for your dog. Based on what my vet says when I update her in a few weeks, we may or may not give it a go ourselves. Trazodone seems to be more for insomnia and as a supplement to an SSRI so while it seems like a "safe" choice it may not be as beneficial as we'd hoped. It's always worth a try.

Being an SSRI, keep in mind that it will take a while to properly work and the first few weeks might be rough. I have anxiety and depression and take an SSRI for it myself (escitalopram). My docs tapered me up from 5 to 10 to 20mg where I'm at right now. There is benefit to tapering up...the side effects are usually not as intense. They were really intense when I first started and was adjusting, but were a little less intense when I went up to 10 and when I bumped up to 20 there were almost none. My doc also prescribed a benzo to take the edge off a bit.

So, in dog terms - it may be best to start low and work your way up. It'll take longer to get to that magic dose and you may have little setbacks with each increase but in the long run it may not be as traumatic overall. Your vet may also suggest something for situational anxiety or to give if your dog seems to be struggling.

And, if Prozac doesn't work there are other options out there.

First step is to either talk to a veterinary behaviorist if you have any around (we don't) or see how knowledgeable your current vet is about these kinds of medications. My current vet isn't a veterinary behaviorist but is in contact with one in OH whom she calls for advice - not all vets will do this, but it's helpful. Some vets are more willing than others to prescribe these things, which is sad. Some dogs just have that imbalance, just like us people.

Best of luck to you.

Thank you!!

It's incredibly frustrating to have such a wonderful dog 90% of the time and have to be on edge all the time when he's around people. Honestly, it's sad for me because I feel like he can't live up to his full potential or be has happy as he could be. I'll be going to visit a friend in a few weeks and we plan on going on a hike. I'd take him off the leash (he listens SO well), but God forbid we come across someone I can't take the risk of him finding something "creepy" about them. Usually settings like this aren't a problem, but I don't want to risk it.

I assume the trazodone and the Xanax you give as needed?
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:01 AM
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Thank you!!

It's incredibly frustrating to have such a wonderful dog 90% of the time and have to be on edge all the time when he's around people. Honestly, it's sad for me because I feel like he can't live up to his full potential or be has happy as he could be. I'll be going to visit a friend in a few weeks and we plan on going on a hike. I'd take him off the leash (he listens SO well), but God forbid we come across someone I can't take the risk of him finding something "creepy" about them. Usually settings like this aren't a problem, but I don't want to risk it.

I assume the trazodone and the Xanax you give as needed?
I give the Xanax as needed and the trazodone twice daily. From what I've read, trazodone is used largely for insomnia or as a support with an SSRI med on occasion so I'm not sure how much it will do for him and will ask the vet when our month is up. She was very cautious to use Prozac for fear of negative side effects, but the trazodone mainly makes him very sleepy.

I tried the Xanax when he was stressed and it wired him up big time. Totally the opposite effect I was expecting.

Yesterday we went to the lake and there were more people there than expected, especially as it was rainy and cool (it's usually deserted anyway). We drove by a man and Chisum let out one bark and then just cried for about 5 minutes straight - it was so sad.
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Old 05-18-2016, 09:18 PM
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Took my three hours to fill out the paper work since I had to do it TWICE, but it's all sent off the to behavioral veterinarian. I'm shocked it's only $75 dollar for the consultation fee! Fingers crossed she can help us. He really isn't a bad dog, he just doesn't think and gets defensive.
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