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The Use of Anti-Anxiety Drugs for Dogs

Going to the vet can be difficult for some dogs. Some dogs are fearful, and some dogs show aggressive behaviors. I also see many owners mistake their dog’s excited behavior for fearful or anxious behavior. Regardless of fearfulness or aggression, the over-abundance and overuse of “anti-anxiety” drugs such as Trazodone and Lorazepam to “treat” these issues has become rampant in recent years.

The use of drugs such as Trazodone and Lorazepam to treat anxiety in dogs (or for use in dogs in general) is considered “extra-label;” meaning unapproved. There is no hard science that shows these drugs are beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety in dogs long term. Many mainstream studies into the efficacy of these drugs in reducing stress and anxiety in dogs use “owner-completed surveys” as a basis of understanding the changes in these dogs.

In our own (anecdotal) experiences, the use of these drugs to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs doesn’t work. In high enough doses, and through the prescribing of several different drugs for concurrent use, we have seen dogs successfully complete veterinary visits whereas before they would not have been successful.

But, why were they successful? These drugs also act as sedatives in dogs. In high enough doses, dogs are still conscious of their surroundings, but sedated to the point of inaction on their part. If a dog is sedated to such a degree, have we really fixed the underlying anxiety? No. We have only masked the underlying anxiety, and absent these drugs, that anxiety will persist and continue to worsen over time.

Generalized anxiety can be eased and even fixed through behavioral rehabilitation training. Building a dog’s confidence and ability to deal with stress in their lives is the path to success for dogs who suffer from anxiety. You won’t have the immediate success that comes from sedating a dog, but you can solve your dog’s anxiety issues in the long run.

If your dog suffers from anxiety and has been prescribed drugs such as Trazodone and Lorazepam for long term use, or even for use in veterinary appointments, there is another way to fix these issues that doesn’t depend on the long term use of pharmaceuticals.

And we just want to mention that we are in no way anti-vet. We love all our vets and vet techs, and without them our pets wouldn’t have the long and healthy lives they are able to live. The veterinary field is a difficult field to be involved in, and we thank and show appreciation to our vets as often as we can! ❤️