Ativan for Canine Anxieties and Phobias
Like humans, dogs are capable of developing anxiety and phobias. The most common phobias-thunder, vacuums, and hair dryers-probably don’t seem like a big deal to you as a human, but to your dog, they’re absolutely terrifying.
Whether thunder sends your dog clawing through the wall or they retreat to a closet to shiver and whimper, anxiety is a very real thing.
Some dogs are capable of coping without having veterinary medicine, but if it’s started to reduce your dog’s quality of life, it might be time to consider giving your dog medication.
Ativan (lorazepam) is prescribed to anxious dogs as an alternative to Valium (diazepam). Ativan is part of the benzodiazepine family and has a sedation effect in anxious humans and animals.
It’s successful in treating phobias in dogs, but it’s also a very effective treatment for dogs with separation anxiety.
If your dog has been diagnosed with severe anxiety or any other specific phobia, and it’s affecting your life, talk to your veterinarian. A drug regimen could be just what your dog needs to help manage the anxiety.
Because Ativan is a benzodiazepine, it’s only available with a prescription from your veterinarian.
You should never give your dog this type of drug unless it’s been cleared by their vet, so if you have an anxious dog and a bottle of Ativan lying around, don’t be tempted to give it to your dog in case it’s an inappropriate choice in their case.
Is Ativan Safe for Dogs?
Ativan is considered a very safe drug even though it is highly addictive in humans. While it isn’t necessarily addictive in dogs, it isn’t something you can give them regularly and discontinue it suddenly.
Dogs go through withdrawal symptoms (increased anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation), so any discontinuation should be done slowly and always under the guidance of your vet. You should not use Ativan for generalized anxiety disorder without your vet’s approval.
Ativan isn’t given to dogs with liver disease because it can further damage the liver. Before your vet writes a prescription, they will want to run a full blood panel to ensure your dog’s liver and kidneys are functioning properly.
Side Effects of Ativan
The most common side effect is increased hunger. It’s important not to give in to your dog’s ravenous appetite otherwise obesity becomes a risk. Instead, make a point to offer healthy alternatives with a lot of fiber to fill them up.
Even though Ativan is supposed to cause sedation, this isn’t always the case. Some dogs become extremely excitable, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t working! While their activity increases, the drug is still having the proper effect on their brain. An increase in activity is not an adverse effect of Ativan.
Talk to your vet about this side effect; a different dose may be all that’s required. If Ativan has the intended sedative effect on your dog, don’t be alarmed if they seem extremely sleepy or their coordination is off.
Some mild loss of coordination is expected, especially if the drug is new, but if your dog is unable to walk or stand, consult with your vet immediately.
Ativan should not be used together with any other tricyclic antidepressant.
Finally, some dogs become aggressive when taking benzodiazepines. This isn’t likely, but it is a notable side effect of this category of drugs. Some owners report a minor change in their dog’s temperament while other dogs have to be taken off the drugs because the change is so significant.
The following information should never be used for you, as the owner, to decide the right dosage for dogs. The dose doesn’t just depend on your dog’s weight. A proper dosage takes their age, body condition, preexisting health conditions, and the severity of their anxiety into consideration.
It’s important to remember a lot of dosing information online is intended for emergency administration in the event of seizures, so a lot of online doses are significantly higher than a maintenance dose is.
A normal dose is 0.02 mg per pound given every 8 to 12 hours. A higher dosage is unlikely, and it’s possible a lower dose is going to be effective, stressing the importance of only giving this drug under a vet’s supervision.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs
Smart dog owners think that dogs, like humans, need to socialize with other animals. Separation anxiety is a serious issue. Dog anxiety is analogous to separation anxiety.
In case of separation anxiety in dogs, it is better to use alternatives to Ativan. Vets often recommend Clomipramine to treat separation anxiety in dogs because it is an FDA-approved drug.
People recommend behavioral therapy in place of anti-anxiety medication to transform dog behavior. Behavioral therapy can be used to treat general anxiety, aggression, social phobia, noise phobia, social anxiety disorder, and canine separation anxiety.
Anxiety Disorder in Dogs
Like humans, dogs are emotional beings. Ativan for dogs can be used for the temporary management of anxiety disorder in dogs. Alternative anxiety medication can also be used, but Ativan is highly effective in dealing with anxiety disorder.
For anxiety disorder in dogs, vets determine the long period for which anxiety medication should be taken. Anxiety medication, such as Ativan, can lead to long-term behavior modification.
Situational Anxiety in Dogs
Situational anxiety in dogs occurs when dogs face scary or unusual situations. Dogs can suffer from situational anxiety due to loud bangs, fireworks, and thunderstorms. Situational anxiety can also occur due to noise phobia and storm phobia in dogs.
Vets used anxiety medication to cause behavior modification. Behavior modification can help dogs face situational anxiety.
Storm Phobia in Dogs
Storm phobia can cause fear and anxiety in dogs. Dogs experience fear and anxiety when they experience anything related to a storm. It means that dogs with storm phobia can fear things like wind, thunder, and lightning. Dogs can exhibit aggression due to storm phobia.
Noise Phobia in Dogs
It is difficult to distinguish storm phobia from noise phobia in dogs. Dogs with noise phobia fear noise. Thunder and fireworks can produce loud noises. Subsequently, dogs can fear thunder and fireworks. Dogs can exhibit aggression due to noise phobia.
Travel Anxiety in Dogs
Ativan can be used for travel anxiety in dogs because it can stay in the dog’s body for several hours. Ativan is highly effective and it can save your dog from travel anxiety.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Dogs
Canine compulsive disorder (CCD) is actually obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in dogs. CCD can indicate dog anxiety. Although Ativan is used to treat dog anxiety, but it is given before an event that causes dog anxiety. Ativan might be used to treat compulsive behavior in dogs.
Alternatives to Ativan
Appropriate alternatives depend on what is being treated and the severity of the disorder. Alternatives are often used to treat separation anxiety in dogs. Obviously, other benzodiazepines are acceptable, but this category of drugs is typically a last resort.
Your vet may stress the importance of behavior modification before trying drugs. There are cases where dog anxiety is not manageable with anything but drugs, but some dogs can be successfully “trained” out of their phobias and minor cases of dog anxiety.
Vets also recommend other antidepressants like Clomipramine to treat dog anxiety. Clomipramine is also an FDA-approved drug. Clomipramine can be used to treat compulsive behavior in dogs. Vets can also recommend Clomipramine to treat panic disorder in a dog.
Paroxetine can be used for treating panic disorder in dogs too. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Sertraline, on the other hand, can be used to treat panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans.
Antidepressants like Clomipramine, Sertraline, and Paroxetine can be used to protect humans against a panic attacks.
But, all of them should not be used to protect dogs against a panic attacks. You should consult your vet before giving any antidepressants to your dog.
When you’ve reached your limit of shredded carpets, destroyed furniture, or potty accidents, it could be time to consider a medical intervention for your dog’s anxiety. While giving them a fairly potent drug is intimidating at first, improving your dog’s quality of life will make the process a little less scary.