Pets & Mental Health: Are Psychiatric Drugs The Answer?
It’s no secret that our four-legged friends can be affected by mental illnesses, too. Dogs and cats both experience a range of issues such as separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and phobias. And, more often than not, the treatment for these mental health issues includes psychiatric medications meant to be used on humans- granted, with a different dosage.
According to statistics, millions of pets in the United States are taking psychotropic drugs for behavioral and psychological problems. Prozac, Zoloft, Xanax: these are just a few of the many human meds that veterinarians prescribe to their furry patients. While not all people would agree with giving their pets psychiatric medications, there’s no doubt that they’re efficient. With the right dosage and a course of treatment, cats and dogs can go from aggressive and anxious to happy and content in a matter of months. And I’m not talking about spazzed out and mellow, either: there is a genuine change for the better, both when it comes to the pet’s quality of life and their behavior.
However, even though for some furbabies taking the right meds has been nothing short of a miracle, it doesn’t mean that they are the universal answer to every behavior issue. Unless the case is severe, the first course of action is to try and correct the problem with positive reinforcement training and lifestyle changes. For instance, some dogs with separation anxiety could benefit from being crate trained, and having a safe space of their own is enough to solve their solitude issues.
So what’s the verdict on pets and psychiatric medications? To be perfectly honest, it’s something only a veterinarian can have a valid opinion on. But, it’s important to remember that there’s no magical overnight cure for pets with psychological issues. A sustainable solution requires commitment, effort, and consistency, which should often be reinforced with the right combination of pharmaceuticals.
A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.
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