Many dogs now spend much time alone, confined to small spaces where the only yard they see is through a window. Also, many dogs are expected to be members of the family, treated like people instead of dogs. The result? Our canine companions may develop anxieties and behavior problems.
General anxiety -- nervousness, worrying, unease -- is different than fear or panic, which can come on suddenly or be severe. If your dog is experiencing anxiety, his behavior may be controlled through behavior modification alone, or with drugs, such as tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or serotonin (5-HT) agonists. Of the latter, buspirone (BuSpar) is the only 5-HT agonist used in behavioral issues, sometimes in conjunction with SSRIs and TCAs.
BuSpar is given to dogs exhibiting anxiousness during thunderstorms, or due to loud noises, and to reduce general stress and anxiety. It eases anxiety levels by reacting with serotonin receptors in the dog's brain. BuSpar must be prescribed by a veterinarian. While generally safe for all breeds, it is not advised for working dogs as it can alter behavior and energy. A calming drug, it also may cause sleepiness, aggression, agitation and increased playfulness or friendliness.
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