Oct. 4, 2013
The culture of prescription drug addiction in America seems to be spreading to the pet population, as an increasing number of pet owners opt to medicate their furry family members into behavioral compliance with mind-altering mood medications like Prozac. A recent report by MyFoxNY.com explains that more pet owners are choosing to dope up their pets with calming meds in order to address behavioral issues rather than simply spend more time exercising and playing with them, which is what they really need.
New York City-based pet expert and trainer Andrea Arden is deeply concerned about this disturbing trend, which she says has seen a massive uptick within the past 10 years. The overall number of pet prescriptions being filled for dangerous mind-altering drugs like Prozac and Xanax, for instance, is simply staggering, and the root cause of the issue likely has nothing to do with pets themselves and everything to do with overly busy and even irresponsible pet owners.
“Animals are expected to live more constrained lives,” explained Arden to MyFoxNY.com. “I think people are busier and busier, especially with the economic downfall. They’re working more so they have less time for their pets, and I think as a result we’re seeing more behavioral problems with animals.”
Back in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually granted approval for a Prozac medication specifically designed for dogs. Drug giant Eli Lilly, in conjunction with Elanco, created a once-daily chewable Prozac drug known as Reconcile, which quells the nervousness and anxiety often experienced by dogs when their owners leave the house or are gone for long periods of time.
“I think it’s mostly owners looking for a quick fix,” added Arden. “I think what people need to think about is [how] to find a way to spend more time with their animals, more quality time with their animals, and they really need to focus on enriching their lives so that they have fewer behavioral problems.”
Medicating your pets with mood-altering drugs could make the problem worse
But like with all pharmaceutical-based solutions, this quick fix comes with the potential for some nasty side effects. Animals given Prozac and Prozac-like drugs could actually experience more stress, says Arden, as well as develop eating disorders and elimination problems, among other conditions. The FDA failed to take any of this into account when it granted glowing approval for Reconcile and other similar mood-changing drugs.
“It may make them overly anxious,” warned Arden about the drug class. “It may make their appetite increase, which could cause stress. It could cause them to gain weight. It could cause an increase in urination and defecation. Those are all things that you want to talk to your veterinarian about.”
Good, old-fashioned training and regular exercise, on the other hand, are still the best options for addressing behavioral problems in pets, insists Arden. Just like with humans, throwing drugs at the problem will only create other problems in many cases, so it is important for pet owners to opt for drugs only as a last resort, and under the strict guidance of a trustworthy veterinarian.
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