Strange Canine Behavior and Disorders

Severe behavior disorders can be successfully treated.

By | Posted: Thu Apr 1 00:00:00 PST 2004

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Research and practical experience in man and animals has clearly demonstrated the importance of specific brain chemicals that impact mood and behavior. The three most important chemicals are norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin; they are called neurotransmitters because they are required at the synapse (junction) between brain cells for the transmission of nerve impulses. Medications useful in affecting mood and behavior in dogs alter concentrations of one or more of these three chemicals.

In general, the more serotonin present in the nerve synapse environment of the brain, the more stable the dog's mood. Increasing serotonin levels at the nerve synapses in the brain of an aggressive dog levels out the dog's responses to aggression-stimulating events. Scientists have discovered drugs that allow serotonin to remain longer at the nerve synapses.

These drugs are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs. They include drugs such as Prozac (fluoxetine), which is useful in treating anxiety, panic, phobia, and obsessive disorders. While at Cornell University, veterinary behaviorist Ilana Reisner, assistant professor of behavioral medicine and director of the Behavior Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, authored a study of dogs with severe owner-directed aggression. These dogs had lower cerebrospinal fluid serotonin metabolite levels compared to non-aggressive dogs. The inference is that drugs that increase serotonin levels, such as fluoxetine, may help control owner-directed aggression.

Two classes of drugs commonly used are the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline, and the serotonin-enhancing medications (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine. Clomicalm (clomipramine) is at this time one of two FDA-approved behavior modification medications for use in dogs; it is useful for aiding in the correction of separation anxiety. The second approved drug is Anipryl (selegiline), a product that is used to assist older dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Other drugs, such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), diazepam (Valium), and phenobarbital, although not officially approved for behavior modification use in dogs by the FDA, are commonly used to help correct certain behavioral disorders.

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janet   bethlehem, PA

2/14/2011 4:23:16 AM

sometimes it is very hard to understand why our pets do the things they do

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janet   bethlehem, PA

3/22/2010 4:33:04 AM

thanks for the info

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janet   bethlehem, PA

3/12/2009 4:29:30 AM

good article thank you

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