More Vets Prescribing Pet Anti-depressants

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Studies show 1 in 10 people are on anti-depressants, but drugs like Xanax and Prozac aren't just for people anymore. Many are now getting behavioral medications for their pets.

Kristie Townsley's dog Daxter is getting up in the years, and she's noticed some changes in his behavior.

"He's unsettled, he moves around a lot,' she told Joshua Smith, DVM at I-20 Animal Medical Center.

During thunderstorms Townsley noticed Daxter gets really anxious. Soon, he'll get some help for that in the form of a pill.

"If it comes to a point where you're noticing an obvious change in your animal, we like to, as needed, use medication," said Smith.

As veterinarians understand pets better, more often they're prescribing pharmaceuticals for our furry friends. They say, don't reach for the pill bottle first.

"A lot of it is just consultation with the owner, just seeing how severe their pet's situation is," said Smith.

"I think I would probably discuss it with the vet, but I wouldn't decide that was the first thing that I would do," said dog owner Margaret Phillips.

Animal lovers we spoke with say they've never considered behavioral meds for the pooches, but can see it as a possibility.

"He'll calm down on his own, so I've never really felt the need to medicate him," said Cathy Lammers, of her dog.

As more people are being prescribed anti-depressants themselves, vets are handling more questions. They say medication can work in some cases. Still, don't assume your pet has the same brain chemistry as you do.

"You like to think that your pet thinks the same way you do. In some situations that is the case, but not all cases," said Smith.

Left untreated, behavioral problems can be dangerous for you and your pet.

"In severe cases, they can actually be anxious to the point where they're destructive to owners, property, even to themselves at some point," said Smith.

Your vet should work with you to figure out the right solution.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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