Originally Posted by Maxy24
At what point do you think a dog needs medication for anxiety?
I can speak from my own personal experience but Bailey was unable to function in public around other dogs. I couldn't take her to general classes. I had no "teachable moments" because her brain was never in the right place when we left our house.
And who is qualified to make that decision?
Honestly, in the majority of cases only a board certified veterinary behaviorist is qualified to make that decision (sometimes a regular veterinarian can but NEVER a trainer--that is illegal and unethical). Like Lauren said, they take a complete history, know what they're looking for, and have seen numerous other dogs on medications to have the knowledge about which one to try first, or next, if needed. Bailey was prescribed Fluoxetine years ago by our regular veterinarian because I begged for it. I hated the fact that we couldn't get anywhere working in public around other dogs. On Fluoxetine, there was a small gap between see and react. I was able to utilize that and build upon it. After being on Fluoxetine, she was able to function in more and more environments!
What are the major side effects of most anti-anxiety meds?
The concerns are usually with the liver. Medications can be hard for the liver to filter and thus it's necessary to keep an eye on the levels. Bailey's had bloodwork at least twice yearly since starting meds and her values have remained absolutely normal. She's been on Fluoxetine for at least five years now.
How would I go about finding out if he would be a good candidate for medication?
Contact the closest BOARD CERTIFIED veterinary behaviorist. I honestly emailed Dr. Duxbury years ago but never felt the need to see her until we NEEDED to see her. She was always great about emailing me back about my little questions while I tried to determine if Bailey REALLY needed to go in or not.
Clonidine has been a literal life saver for Bailey. Last weekend she needed a bandage change so I asked my mom to give her a dose of Clonidine about three hours before our appointment. For the first time in her life, Bailey was able to be relaxed, not shaking, and responsive to cues. She laid on the floor of her own free will while her leg bandage was changed. I'd never seen her like that at the clinic, ever. She's usually a shaking, quivering, super sad mess trying to race out the door. Compare that to an impromptu veterinary visit on Saturday night to REchange the bandage. I didn't have enough warning to give her Clonidine and she was an absolute mess. I had to physically restrain her and she trembled the whole time.
Even if medications aren't prescribed, I feel like the discussions I had with our veterinary behaviorist are invaluable. She shed light on some situations I hadn't thought enough about... and it was just wonderful.
I rambled a lot but basically...
, and this
. Oh, and this one
is really important (and relevant), too.