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Sedative medications for dogs: types and uses [veterinarian's recommendations

Sedative medications for the dog

Excessive anxiety and stress are problems that often arise in animals, especially dogs.

Some owners ignore these diseases or do not know how to act in the event of their occurrence, and such a condition, lasting for a long time, causes enormous mental suffering. Long-term anxiety has a negative impact on the limbic system, responsible for behavior and emotional states. Chronic anxiety increases the concentration of steroid hormones, which are responsible for the emerging damage to the nervous system.

Various events can be a stressful situation, sometimes those that we ourselves barely notice and do not pay much attention to. It can be a visit to a veterinary office or a nursing salon, a trip, an exhibition, the sounds of a storm or fireworks, the arrival of a new family member, the caregiver going to work or going on vacation, changing the guardian or weaning the puppies from their mother, but also a simple walk, driving a car, the appearance of a new dog in the area, renovation of the apartment, illness of the caregiver or meeting during a walk

. the gentleman in the hat.

Any event can make your dog anxious. It is also extremely important to identify the source of anxiety and phobias and the stress associated with them. The cause of such pathological disorders may be genetic conditions, lack of proper socialization in the puppy period, difficult experiences, violence, disease, chronic pain.

Animal psychology and behaviorism are areas that have recently started to develop. Especially in terms of changes that have occurred in the dog-owner relationship and the approach to companion animals, which we treat as full family members.

We have a wide range of products on the market that have a calming effect on our dogs. From over-the-counter herbal blends to psychotropic drugs that are only prescribed and used under the strict supervision of a veterinarian. These measures are available in various forms, from lozenges, twist-off tablets, pastes, syrups, drops, food or collars, to contact diffusers.

It is worth remembering that these disorders are very complicated, the therapy cannot be based solely on pharmacology, in addition, regular meetings with a behaviorist and work on the behavior and relations of the caregiver with the ward are needed.

The treatment itself takes a long time and requires time, work and consistency in the procedure, but it is worth making this effort, helping your pet and yourself. Very often, problems with a dog's excessive fearfulness will result in frustration in its owner, who cannot cope with the animal's aggression, complaints from neighbors, self-mutilation of his pet or damage in the apartment.

Anxiety, especially chronic anxiety, causes a series of biochemical changes in the animal's body. These, in turn, significantly hinder the learning processes due to the excessive excitability of the animal.

Chronically stressed dogs have problems with concentration, are difficult to train, which makes training such animals longer, more difficult and more demanding than in animals not suffering from this type of disorder.

With untreated phobias and fears, there may be a situation where, due to the financial costs, stress, anger and resignation of the owner, the human-animal relationship is weakened, which may result in a decision to put the dog up for adoption. In extreme situations, untreated anxiety can even lead to euthanasia of a sick dog, especially when aggression towards humans or very intense self-mutilation occurs.

  • The mechanism of anxiety
  • Symptoms of anxiety and phobias in a dog
  • Correct diagnosis
  • Types of sedative medications
    • Supplements
    • Synthetic analogs of canine pheromones
    • Pharmacotherapy

The mechanism of anxiety

The limbic system located in the brain is responsible for emotional states and behavior. One of the most important parts of this system is the amygdala, in which the patterns of emotional reactions are formed and stored, both those inherited and those developed during the individual's life.

Fear in a dog is an adaptive phenomenon, thanks to it animals learn to avoid dangerous situations. Experienced and worked out reactions are remembered for the rest of life, thanks to which the body reacts in the same way at once recognized danger, even if it does not deal with it often.

In pathological conditions, excessively exposed or emerging anxiety in inappropriate situations is the cause of serious disorders. Thus, anxiety can arise in a completely safe situation, without an arousing stimulus.

Fear, on the other hand, is the correct response to a current, real, and well-defined danger.

Often the terms fear and anxiety are used interchangeably, which is not in line with their scientific definitions. On the other hand, persistent fear of specific situations, phenomena or objects is called phobias. It is a persistent, maladaptive, stimulus-inadequate behavioral disorder that is accompanied by a strong desire to avoid the stimuli that cause it.

Symptoms of anxiety and phobias in a dog

The list of symptoms that can appear in a dog with an anxiety disorder or phobia is very long, and the symptoms themselves are varied.

The key is to carefully observe your pet and catch even small changes in its behavior early.

The most common and easily noticeable symptoms are:

  • tremors,
  • cringing,
  • gasping,
  • panting and nervous yawning,
  • sudden onset of skin lesions, dandruff, cross-hairs,
  • vigilant observation of the surroundings,
  • drooling,
  • whimper,
  • urinating in the apartment,
  • frequent shaking off,
  • There may also be behaviors transferred or inadequate to the situation,
  • aggression,
  • compulsive disorders,
  • discharging behavior, such as persistent licking, biting the paws or tail, hunting for shadows,
  • prolonged barking,
  • destruction of furniture and walls.

Correct diagnosis

Before starting any medications, even over-the-counter medications, visit your veterinarian for a thorough examination.

You need to exclude other diseases, perform blood tests - apart from morphology and biochemistry, it is worth paying attention to the thyroid gland and excluding its possible hypothyroidism (according to some studies, this condition may be associated with the occurrence of anxiety disorders in dogs).

Additionally, it is recommended to perform a neurological examination and an ultrasound examination of the heart, the so-called echo of the heart.

Some pharmaceuticals adversely affect the work of the heart and in animals with cardiological problems this group of drugs should not be used. Some behavioral disturbances, mainly aggression, can be caused by, inter alia, chronic pain, so other medical conditions should be ruled out before administration of sedatives.

Correct diagnosis will allow you to determine the most effective treatment plan and choose the safest drug.

Types of sedative drugs


Herbal preparations

Herbal preparations are a whole group of agents that are very often used in the case of excessive fear in animals. They are easily available, you can buy them not only in a veterinary office, but also in a pet store or even online with convenient home delivery.

The composition of the plant components of these mixtures varies, but most often you can find popular and well-known herbs in them, such as:

  • common chamomile,
  • Californian poppy seed,
  • hawthorn inflorescence,
  • passion flower herb,
  • St. John's wort,
  • lemon balm leaf extract,
  • hops extract,
  • valerian root,
  • Japanese ginkgo,
  • hemp oil
  • Methystine pepper also known as kava - kava.

These compounds have a relaxing and soothing effect on animals, have a soothing effect on symptoms related to the states of anxiety, fear and aggression.

Common chamomile

Contains spiroether, chamazulene and coumarin compounds, thanks to which it has relaxing and relaxing properties.

Its composition also includes choline, i.e. vitamin B4. It is relatively safe, even for young animals, but may interact with medications such as anticoagulants, for example.

California poppy seed

Also known as the Californian gilding.

It improves mental condition, has a calming effect, and makes it easier to fall asleep.

Gilding action is attributed to the protopine and allokriptopine - two alkaloids contained in it.

Studies have shown that they stimulate GABA receptors, the stimulation of which significantly affects the length and quality of sleep.

Another goldfish alkaloid - aporphin - has an affinity for dopamine and serotonin receptors, thanks to which it has a supporting effect in states of nervous tension.

California poppy also contains californium, which helps you fall asleep. Extracts of this plant should not be used in lactating and pregnant animals.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm, it is also called swarming house, beekeeper, queen bee or lemon herb.

Its leaves are a rich source of terpenes, which are responsible for the healing effects of this plant. They also contain small amounts of rosmarinic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene and polyphenols.

Thanks to its calming effect, you can significantly alleviate anxiety states, the feeling of stress and suppress excessive stimulation.

Lemon balm should not be consumed by animals that are about to undergo surgery because it affects the effects of drugs used to anesthetize patients.

St. John's wort

St. John's wort, or carob, has a calming effect, therefore it is used in states of nervous exhaustion, anxiety, nervous balance disorders. St. John's wort owes its sedative and antidepressant effects to hypericin.

Research shows that this substance inhibits the breakdown of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.

Preparations containing St. John's wort may reduce the effectiveness of some medications, so if your dog is under treatment, be sure to consult your veterinarian before giving them.

It is also worth remembering that St. John's wort increases sensitivity to the sun's rays, which should be especially taken into account when using it in white-coated or hairless animals.

Flesh-colored passion

It is a common ingredient in sedatives and its sedative effects are generally known.

However, many scientists question them due to the low content of active substances.

In addition to a small amount of maltol, passion flower also contains 2.5% of flavonoids and about 0.05% of beta-carboline derivatives. It should not be given to pregnant animals.

Common hops

Both hop cones and lupulin (also known as hop secretory glands, which is a yellowish powder that covers the hop cones) make it difficult to transfer stimuli to the nervous system, inhibit the activity of the cerebral cortex, and have a calming effect.

Hops extract is used in states of increased tension, anxiety and nervous hyperactivity. Hops also have a hypnotic effect and can be combined with other nerve-soothing herbs.

Valerian medicine

Valerian - a popular valerian. Valerian root and rhizomes reduce the activity of the central nervous system, thus reducing tension and anxiety, causing a state of mental relaxation.

In addition, valerian root also has properties that facilitate falling asleep, and also deepens and prolongs sleep. The plant owes its action mainly to valepotriates, but also to essential oils, monoterpenes and esters of valeric and isovaleric acid.

The rhizome of valerian also contains phenolic acids, flavonoids, amino acids, lignans and alkaloids.

The strength of valerian root extract depends on the method of obtaining it.

This remedy works well in stressful situations, feeling anxious and anxious, and with minor problems with falling asleep.

Some scientists have compared its anxiolytic effect to that of a strong psychotropic drug, diazepam. Long-term use of valerian or excessive consumption of it can cause side effects such as:

  • blurred vision,
  • arrhythmias,
  • nausea,
  • digestive problems.

It can also cause hyperactivity or insomnia.

Valerian interacts with various medications and therefore cannot be combined with antihistamines, muscle relaxants, sedatives, hypnotics, antidepressants or anxiolytics, among others.

Like lemon balm, valerian root cannot be used before surgery because it interferes with the effects of general anesthesia. Caution should also be exercised when using in animals with renal and hepatic insufficiency.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba - also known as ginko - biloba.

Many valuable health substances have been found in ginkgo biloba, such as:

  • glycosidic flavonoids,
  • biflavonoids,
  • terpenes,
  • steroids,
  • organic acids,
  • free fatty acids,
  • hydroxy acids,
  • procyanidins,
  • tannins,
  • carotenoids,
  • ginkgolic acid.

Helps in the treatment of mood disorders accompanied by anxiety and anxiety, protects nerve cells by protecting myelin sheaths, improves memory and concentration.

It also has an anticoagulant effect, so when used in excessive amounts, it may lead to intra-organ bleeding and miscarriage in pregnant bitches.

Hemp oil

It contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, including oleic, linoleic, linolenic and gamma-linolenic acids, which make up most of the oil, and other valuable nutrients, including vitamins and minerals such as: vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamins from the group B, vitamin K and calcium, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium.

It does not contain narcotic substances - THC, therefore it is legal and not addictive.

Hemp oil has neuroprotective properties, regenerates damaged nerve cells and protects against their degeneration.

It soothes and calms the nervous system, has anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties.

It can be used in depression, anxiety, panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia. It relaxes and deeply relaxes.

It prevents hyperactivity and makes it easier to fall asleep. It has an antipsychotic and sobering effect, reducing hallucinations or other states of disturbed consciousness.

Kava kava

It is a substance that has a calming effect and fights anxiety. The root of this plant contains the most active substances with a slight psychoactive effect - kavalactones, also known as cavapirones:

  • cavaine,
  • dihydrocavaine,
  • methysticin,
  • dihydromethysticin,
  • Yangonin,
  • demethoxyangonin.

Kava kava has a calming and relaxing effect, and soothes anxiety and insomnia. May cause mild sedation due to its effect on the GABA neurotransmitter system, which is the main neurotransmitter that inhibits the nervous system.

It is worth mentioning that this plant was illegal in Poland until 2018, but now the regulations have been amended and currently it can be used in accordance with the law.

The simultaneous use of Methystine Mint with St. John's Wort has a synergistic effect and enhances the anxiolytic effect.

The herbal preparation can most often be administered for a long time, some of them can even be used in puppies. However, you should always check the manufacturer's recommendations on these issues.

Although they are safe preparations, most of them must not be used in pregnant or nursing mothers, in animals taking other medications, suffering from chronic renal or hepatic insufficiency, and in patients before surgery.

The recommended dose should always be adhered to, as overdosing is associated with the risk of side effects dangerous to health or life.

All herbs can cause an allergy, if it occurs, you should immediately go to the veterinary office. However, not all of them are safe for animals, so self-administration, in the form of infusions or dried herbs mixed with food, should always be preceded by a consultation with a veterinarian.

The disadvantage of herbal preparations is their low effectiveness.

If our dog does not show major and long-lasting signs of fear, and we only want to help him and relieve some potentially stressful situation, we can reach for them. To obtain any effect, these agents should be administered well in advance, even for several weeks before the stressful event.

Green tea - L-Theanine

Green tea concentrate contains large amounts of L-theanine, a free amino acid that lowers the response to stress and fear, relaxes and improves learning without causing drowsiness.

It stabilizes the mood.

Unfortunately, green tea used in too high doses increases the risk of anemia due to the polyphenols contained in it, which inhibit the absorption of iron from food. It also has a negative effect on the development of fetuses.

B vitamins

The B vitamins include:

  • thiamin (B1),
  • riboflavin (B2),
  • niacin (PP, B3),
  • choline (B4),
  • pantothenic acid (B5),
  • pyridoxine (B6),
  • biotin (B7),
  • inositol (B8),
  • folic acid (B9),
  • p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA, B10),
  • cobalamin (B12),
  • orotic acid (B13),
  • pangamic acid (B15),
  • laetrile (B17).

Dogs need to get flu B vitamins with their food, because dogs, like humans, cannot make them on their own.

In addition, due to their chemical properties, they cannot be stored in the body, and in situations of long-term stress, the demand for them increases, so it is necessary to provide them in the right amount in food or rational supplementation.

It has been proven that all B vitamins have a positive effect on the nervous system, it is recommended to consume them in periods of increased stress.

Preparations containing vitamins are well tolerated and safe, but it should be remembered that a significant overdose may lead to hypervitaminosis, which in the case of this group of vitamins manifests itself in the form of:

  • stomach aches,
  • nausea,
  • rashes,
  • allergy to sunlight.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Its deficiency negatively affects the general well-being and causes increased nervousness. Thiamine participates in the synthesis of neurotransmitters that are responsible for the proper transmission of signals in the brain, it is necessary for the production of acetylcholine.

Vitamin B1 deficiency increases the susceptibility to stress and the risk of mental disorders.

Vitamin B3 (PP, Niacin)

It works in the mitochondria of cells, especially those in the nervous system, especially the brain. Supports the functioning of the central nervous system and protects it from damage.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

It is necessary for the functioning of the brain, including the production of neurotransmitters such as:

  • dopamine,
  • serotonin,
  • noradrenaline.

Inadequate amount and activity of these neurotransmitters can cause emotional and behavioral disturbances, as well as deterioration of cognitive functions, depressed mood and insomnia.

Amino acids

Taurine (L-taurine or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is an amino acid.

Unlike cats, dogs can synthesize it on their own, but sometimes - in the case of an inadequate diet or in states of excessive agitation, it should be supplemented.

It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter with a calming effect in states of hyperactivity or anxiety. This action may be useful in preventing epileptic seizures. Taurine has also been shown to help relieve depression by changing the activity of the hippocampus in the brain.

L - tryptophan, unlike taurine, is an essential amino acid that must be supplied to dogs and other animals with food.

Tryptophan in the body is converted into serotonin, called the "happiness hormone", the reduced concentration of which may cause depressive disorders, increased aggression, irritability and pain sensitivity. It has been shown that stressful situations can lower the level of serotonin and tryptophan, therefore supplementing the diet with tryptophan prevents its level from falling and thus reduces the long-term effects of stress.

Tryptophan is also a precursor to melatonin, which coordinates the biological clock in mammals by regulating the circadian rhythm and time of sleep and wake.

In preparations, it is combined with herbs, for example with green tea extracts, valerian root or lemon balm, or with B vitamins. The most common are vitamins B1, B3 and B6.

Means containing amino acids or vitamins are not addictive or intoxicating.

They contain ingredients of natural origin, which makes them safe and well-tolerated even with long-term use. Sometimes a single administration, one hour before the stress factor occurs, is enough to achieve mild calming before a trip, exhibition, doctor's visit, storm or fireworks.

Milk caseins

This preparation contains alpha-casosepin - a natural, biologically active peptide obtained from milk, which is similar to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter. As a result, it has an anxiolytic effect and reduces the animal's reactivity to negative stimuli.

This peptide causes relaxation in newborns fed on mother's milk.

It is recommended to use it in dogs reacting with excessive fear or anxiety caused by the appearance of a new animal or new family members at home, moving, rearranging, changing furniture, exhibiting, visiting a veterinary clinic, driving a car, leaving the owners, or a storm or fireworks. This preparation is best used a few days before the anxiety situation.

It can be used for a long time and is safe.

There is also a complete feed available on the Polish market, containing both alpha - casosepin and L - tryptophan.

Supplementation in the treatment of anxiety disorders must be selected appropriately and taken into account in the possible implementation of pharmacological treatment.

Some supplements can interact with medications and reduce or increase their effects, so inform your veterinarian of all medications you are taking on your dog.

Synthetic analogs of canine pheromones

Pheromones are natural chemical compounds used to exchange information between individuals of a given species. The glands of the milk bar in lactating bitches release sedative pheromones.

These compounds affect puppies, calming them down by providing them with a sense of security in numerous potentially stressful situations while discovering a new, unknown environment.

Studies have shown that synthetic analogues of canine sedative pheromones not only help puppies but also have a soothing effect on adult dogs.

They can be used in the form of diffusers, collars, sprays and spot - on drops.

The diffuser should be connected to the room where the dog is most often. The area of ​​operation of the diffuser is 50 to 70 m2, one bottle lasts about 4 weeks and should be on all this time.

A collar can be used instead of a diffuser, especially if the dog is in a place where there is no access to electricity. The spray can be used both outdoors and indoors.

During the trip, we can spray our dog's hands, carrier, bedding and blanket. Spot-on preparation is applied to the skin and left to dry.

A place other than the antiparasitic products should be chosen for application, preferably on the top of the dog's head, between the ears. The measure should be applied at least 15 minutes before a potentially stressful situation. The effect may be diminished if you get wet or bathed. It should not be used on damaged skin.

Both natural and synthetic pheromones are safe, odorless and do not affect other animals and humans.

They are not absorbed into the body, so they do not interact with drugs, therefore pharmacotherapy and training with a behaviorist can be carried out simultaneously with pheromones.

If we want to minimize the fear caused by sound phobia, we use pheromones two weeks before the expected event, but if we are afraid of problems with the adaptation of an adult dog or puppy to a new home, we start using pheromones 2-3 days before his arrival.



Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam)

Benzodiazepines are a group of drugs that exhibit anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties.

They increase the affinity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to the GABA-ergic receptor, inhibiting the nerve transmission in the central nervous system, thus reducing its activity.

It manifests itself as an inhibitory effect on numerous functions of the brain and causes:

  • reduction of anxiety, phobias and other intense emotions,
  • calm,
  • decrease in psychomotor performance,
  • somnolence,
  • muscle relaxation.

They also affect memory and have an amnestic effect.

Alprazolam suppresses retrospective memory, i.e. the memory of events that took place immediately before the effect of the drug, and can be used up to several hours after the anxiety-inducing event.

They are used often because they bring almost immediate relief in states of tension, anxiety, anxiety or panic. The effect of their action is observed as early as 30 - 60 minutes after oral administration.

Benzodiazepines are used in the treatment of various anxiety disorders, especially when it is impossible to wait for a delayed effect. They are very effective when a quick, short and occasional anxiolytic action is required.

Not all benzodiazepines have the same properties, there is a group of benzodiazepines that act mainly:

  • anxiolytic (e.g. alprazolam, lorazepam),
  • sleeping (e.g. nitrazepam, estazolam),
  • relaxing (tetrazepam)
  • anticonvulsants (e.g. clonazepam).

This division becomes blurred when higher doses are used.

In toxic doses, they depress the respiratory center. Long-term administration of benzodiazepines causes rapid onset of drug dependence with the development of drug tolerance. This results in the need to use higher and higher doses to maintain the same effect.

Most often we give them at:

  • phobias, including sound phobias (storm, fireworks),
  • anxiety states (situational anxiety, panic, generalized anxiety).

Selective alpha - 2 adrenoceptor agonists (dexmedetomidine)

Dexmedetomidine is a potent and selective alpha - 2 adrenoceptor agonist.

It works by inhibiting the secretion of norepinephrine from noradrenergic neurons, by reducing its amount in the central nervous system. When administered in low doses, it is effective in reducing acute tension and anxiety in dogs related to noise.

It is administered in the form of a gel that must be applied to the cheek mucosa, accidental ingestion makes the drug ineffective.

Very agitated animals are less sensitive to the drug.

The first dose should be given when the dog shows the first signs of anxiety or when the owner anticipates a stimulus (sounds of fireworks or storms) causing the dog to be anxious or anxious.

If the anxiety-inducing stimulus persists and the dog begins to show symptoms of anxiety and fear again (the animal gasps, trembles, is agitated, often changes places, seeks human company, hides under furniture or in dark rooms, tries to escape, refuses food, gives up urine and faeces, drooling, etc.), the product may be re-administered 2 hours after the previous dose.

It is allowed to administer the drug 5 times in one day.

Due to the fact that the drug is absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes, gloves should be used during application.

The effects of dexmedetomidine can be counteracted by administering the specific antidote, atipamezole, which is an alpha - 2 adrenoreceptor antagonist.

It must not be used in dogs with severe cardiovascular, kidney or liver problems. It is relatively safe and effective when administered correctly.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine, sertaline, fluvoxamine)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or Serotonin - Specific Reuptake Inhibitor) inhibit the absorption of serotonin by neurons, which increases its level in synaptic clefts.

Serotonin (5 - hydroxytryptamine), on the other hand, is a paracrine hormone (i.e. one that affects only the surrounding cells, does not get into the bloodstream), it is also a chemical neurotransmitter of nerve impulses in the brain.

It plays an important role in the central nervous system and is important in the development of anxiety and depressive disorders.

Serotonin stimulates nerve cells, affects well-being and mood, and its insufficient amount in synaptic clefts is considered a likely cause of depression. Thus, through its mechanism of action, this group of drugs is a good mood regulator.

Drugs of this group are well tolerated because they do not reduce the activity of the central nervous system, and do not impair cognitive functions or psychophysical fitness.

Their disadvantage is that for a therapeutic effect to appear, they must be taken for several weeks. They should not be discontinued suddenly as this may result in the development of withdrawal symptoms. In order to minimize the risk of this syndrome, it is recommended to gradually reduce the dose of the administered drug.

The indications for the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include:

  • long-term anxiety and depression,
  • aggression of various backgrounds (excessive, defensive, fear, frustration or social background),
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder,
  • stereotype,
  • excessive licking and urine marking,
  • sleep disturbance,
  • separation anxiety,
  • vocalization,
  • excessive or distorted appetite.

Tetracyclic antidepressants (mianserin)

Tetracyclic antidepressants work by blocking alpha 2 - adrenergic receptors, thus inhibiting norepinephrine reuptake and increasing the conductivity of nerve impulses in the central nervous system.

It should not be used for more than 2-3 weeks as prolonged use may lead to a state of increased alertness and panic attacks in the treated animal.

It is indicated in states of decreased psychomotor activity, acute post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, lack of appetite, excessive sleepiness.

Tricyclic antidepressants (clomipramine, amitriptyline)

Tricyclic (tricyclic) antidepressants (TLPD, TCA) are non-selective serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors, they act by modifying the sensitivity of the respective receptors.

The first therapeutic effects are visible 3 - 4 weeks after starting the drug administration.

They have antidepressant, anxiolytic and sedative properties. They can be used together with benzodiazepines, but must not be combined with selegiline. Do not use in animals suffering from heart disease.

We use them for:

  • over-agitation,
  • anxiety states,
  • psychogenic alopecia,
  • aggression on the background of pain,
  • excessive vocalization,
  • separation disorders - separation anxiety,
  • excessive attachment and / or emotional excretion.

Selective irreversible MAO-B inhibitor (selegiline)

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are a group of compounds that inhibit the activity of enzymes from the monoamine oxidase enzyme family. We call them psychostimulants.

Selegiline increases the availability of dopamine in the brain, affecting the animal's motivation, exploratory behavior, and the ability to learn and remember. It has a neuroprotective effect.

In overactive individuals, selegiline causes paradoxical sedation, while in inhibited individuals - psychomotor activation. It can be discontinued without tapering off the dose.

The indications for use are:

  • hyperactivity,
  • psychogenic alopecia,
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder,
  • cognitive dysfunctions,
  • sleep-wake cycle disorders in geriatric dogs,
  • also problems with learning and concentration, also in young animals (in this case, use should be started three weeks before training).

Neuroleptics (acepromazine)

Acepromazine blocks dopamine receptors in the central nervous system and inhibits the turnover of dopamine in the neurons.

It causes myorelaxation, it is a neuroleptic - it reduces mobility with fully preserved consciousness. It has no anxiolytic properties and is even contraindicated in anxiety disorders. It increases the sensitivity to sounds, which intensifies sound phobias.

The drugs described, except benzodiazepines and dexmedetomidine, do not have an immediate effect, it is recommended to start treatment six weeks before the expected time of the anxiety events.

Pharmacological therapy is carried out until a satisfactory improvement is achieved, and then for the next 1-3 months.

After treatment, drug withdrawal can begin, unless there are other behavioral disturbances that require longer treatment. Discontinuation of medications should be done gradually to avoid recurrence of symptoms. Dose reduction is based on the duration of treatment.

As a rule, there is one week off treatment in each month of treatment. This means that, for example, after three months of treatment, the dose should be reduced over a period of three weeks. The exception is selegiline, which can be discontinued without gradually reducing the dose.

Combining tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, as well as tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors with an MAO-B inhibitor (selegiline) is contraindicated as it may cause serotonin syndrome.

By combining and, consequently, overdosing on drugs from different groups, but having a similar effect - enhancing the effect of serotonin - there is an increased risk of use and greater toxicity of these drugs.

Caution should also be exercised with the simultaneous use of L-tryptophan and some herbs during psychopharmacology.

Before any surgery, please inform your veterinarian about any sedative medications you are taking, as they may interact with premedication or general anesthesia medications.

It should be remembered that these substances do not have healing properties, they only cause calming and tranquility during behavioral therapy so as to allow for effective training, or they can be used for a specific anxiety event, for example New Year's Eve.

When drugs are stopped, and blood levels drop, the symptoms of anxiety and other behavioral disturbances come back.


Before administering any medication or dietary supplement, consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination and diagnosis of the animal.

Even herbal remedies can cause allergies and side effects, especially in animals suffering from comorbidities. Particular care should be taken when administering drugs to pregnant and lactating bitches, puppies and older animals.

If our animal is stressed by visiting a veterinary office, before administering sedatives, consult a veterinarian so that the administered substance does not affect the results of the tests or obstructs, and sometimes even prevents the planned surgery.

With slightly expressed symptoms of anxiety, you can reach for over-the-counter drugs, and if their use does not bring any effect, consult a veterinarian and change the agent to a properly selected drug.

In situations where the attack of a phobia is relatively short-lived, such as sound phobias, we use fast and short-acting drugs - dexmedetomidine or benzodiazepines.

For persistent disorders, such as separation anxiety, long-term medication and concomitant behavioral therapy are needed. It must not be forgotten, because the administration of drugs itself is symptomatic and does not solve the cause of the appearance of anxiety behavior in animals.

Psychotropic drugs must never be used on their own, even if somehow the owner has access to them without visiting a veterinarian. We do not modify the doses of drugs on our own and, what is very important, we maintain a regular time interval between subsequent administrations (sometimes drugs should be administered with an accuracy of a few minutes!).

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