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Behavioral Medications for Pets


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Problem behaviors strain the relationship between pet and owner. In fact, behavioral issues are the number one reason for pets to be relinquished to animal shelters. Whether it is a dog that is destructive when left alone, a cat that urinates outside the litter box, or any other habit that is dangerous or annoying to pets and/or people, problem behaviors must be addressed.

"The potential benefits of medications are often overlooked when discussing treatment for behavioral problems."


Treatment Options for Pets With Problem Behaviors

Anxitane for Dogs

The potential benefits of medications are often overlooked when discussing treatment for behavioral problems. There is no magic pill available that will transform a troubled dog or cat into the best behaved individual on the block, but when used appropriately, medications can make the training process go a whole lot faster and more smoothly.

Over the counter supplements like Anxitane or Composure behavior calming chews are readily available and worth a try, but they tend to be most effective when a pet’s behavior is just starting to become an issue. The longer a behavior is allowed to continue, the more ingrained it becomes and the harder it is to treat. Therefore, longstanding or especially severe behavior problems often require treatment with more powerful, prescription medications like Clomicalm, clomipramine, Reconcile, fluoxetine, or amitriptyline.

The Benefits of Behavioral Medications

Medications and supplements are best used to improve a pet’s receptivity to behavioral modification techniques not as a standalone therapy. Canine separation anxiety is a perfect example. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety panic when left alone. They become so scared that they may attempt to escape through windows, doors, or walls; urinate and defecate in the house; and engage in other, destructive behaviors. The goal of behavioral modification in a case like this is to teach the dog to remain relaxed and reward him for doing so. Initially, owners only pretend to leave, but as his condition improves, he can be exposed to more and more intense stimuli (e.g., being left alone for increasingly long periods of time).

This all sounds perfectly logical, but in reality it may be impossible to keep a dog relaxed with even the slightest hint that its owner might be leaving. This is where medications can be so beneficial. Treating a dog suffering from separation anxiety with an appropriate medication can tip the balance in favor of a “Hmm, this isn’t too bad” response when an owner picks up his keys.

It is important to remember that medications should be used with, rather than instead of, other behavioral modification techniques. Talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist to determine which behavioral medications, environmental changes, and/or forms of training might work best for your pet.


The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.