Reader’s Corner

prozac dog
A humane society director warns that dogs addicted to Prozac become unadoptable.

Shirley Moore, director of Save a Dog of Sudbury, Massachusetts, writes:

I’m not surprised that the pet-loving population is not warned about Prozac. I just took a call from a woman last week whose dog was biting the kids and of course, the dog was on Prozac and she was told nothing about the side effects. She wanted to turn the dog over to the humane society, but I had to tell her that we can’t take dogs who are on Prozac because you can’t get them off of it. It’s designed to keep you coming back for more, just like all the other pharmaceuticals foisted on the pet owners.

There is disagreement and dissent within the veterinary community over a number of such medications. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s annual convention in New Orleans, attended by more than 10,000 of the country’s leading vets, saw a heated debate about the doggie antidepressants Clomicalm and Reconcile, and Slentrol, the world’s first canine anti-obesity pill.

The veterinarian at Eli Lilly, the company that makes Reconcile, says, “Behavior modification by itself works. There’s not any question about that. But if you use behavior modification in conjunction with Reconcile, it works quicker and it works better.” Yet Eli Lilly’s own study showed that short-term side effects include lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Is that an example of “working better”?

As we pointed out in our article and Shirley Moore underlined, it is easy to start antidepressant medications. But as with any highly addictive substance, it can be difficult to impossible to get off them.


  1. I am a former Prozac user who found the drug VERY unsatisfactory. As with most Big Pharma drugs, it is a compound which does not occur naturally in human or canine biochemistry, so side effects should be expected.
    Pet owners need to keep in mind that the problems Prozac was designed to solve (e.g. depression), are frequently a result of endocrine system problems in humans.. If you believe your dog is becoming listless, moody, etc., then thyroid hormone replacement in response to a thyroid test, may be all that is needed to restore your dog’s doggie-personality.

    1. Mr Arnold, I have been trying to reach you about your Mystery Illness piece. Would you contact me at publicslp at gmail ?

  2. Shirley, I think you are making sweeping judgements and huge assumptions, here. I’m not miniimizing the problem of addiction, but it simply is not true to say “you can’t get them off them.” There are tapering protocols that work to get the drug out of the body (and brain) — and, yes, they take time, and yes, there are a lot of unknowns and individual variations about the process. But it can be done safely. As with people, responses and sensitivities vary — a lot! And if we are talking about Prozac making a dog unadoptable — it is most often prescribed for severe separation anxiety. If that doesn’t make a dog unadoptable, I don’t know what would. Behavior is now a board-certified specialty within veterinary medicine. Dr. Nick Dodman at Tufts is well known in the field. I think as a humane society director you could get some professional advice on handling this problem by contacting him.
    The thing is, dogs with severe mental illnesses with components that make them extremely hard to live with, are the ones for whom the drugs give the owner enough of a boost to the behavior modification protocol to keep him from giving up. They make success possible. The weaning off is essential — and sometimes not done. But who is at fault? The prescribing vet can order the taper dose — but does the owner, fearing a relapse, decide to just continue at the therapeutic dose? Or does she simply stop “cold turkey” when the refills expire?
    My dog has been on Prozac for 3+ months and is beginning the taper. From 10 mg/day he’s down to 7.5 for 2 weeks, then 5 mg for 2 weeks, then 2.5 for 2 weeks. I also had a liver function test done after he started the drug. He has done very well, and I feel sure we can get him off altogether without problems or relapse. But I’m working with a veterinary behaviorist, to whom I report any concerns and progress regularly.
    But guess what? Even though this withdrawal protocol is well established, does the company make the pills in the smaller increments needed? No, they do not. If you are looking for a villain, look to the pharmaceutical companies. To do the taper I can cut the tablets myself into quarters, or go through a compounding pharmacy (of which there are only a few in the country). I’m cutting them myself, but it isn’t as precise as I would like.
    Psychoactive drugs are potent, and the veterinarians I have known are very aware and impress this on their clients. They can do a lot of good, even save lives. We all have to become more savvy consumers of drugs, as of everything else on offer. The cynical manufacturers only want to sell product — but we don’t have to be uncritical dupes. I agree there should be warnings on the label — but banning their use would eliminate a lot of positive outcomes.

    1. I would like to point out that you have not taken your dog off Prozac – you are only in the process of attempting to do so. Secondly, what’s the point of putting the dog on Prozac, if you are taking it off – does Prozac cures any disease or behavior? Thirdly, besides violent behavior brought on by low levels of serotonin, are you aware of other symptoms such as Parkinson-like movement disorders brought on by serotonin uptake inhibitors?
      Fourthly, before consulting someone at Tafts, I would like to know who funds them. The last time I asked, they refused to tell me.
      Thank you for reading,

    2. Laurie, you’ve bought into pharmaceutical company propaganda. There are no well-established protocols for safely and effectively discontinuing psychotropic drugs. Most physicians don’t even acknowledge the need for it. When they do, they usually recommend discontinuing over a period of one month or less. This leavers people in horrible, extended withdrawal syndromes that can often result in long term disability.
      The fact is that these drugs are founded on lies. Fact: Prozac trials were originally halted because many trial participants became combative or suicidal. A benzodiazepine was added to the protocol and trials resumed. When the trial data was submitted to the FDA, this information was included. The FDA stated it was unnecessary to report and document this. Prozac was presented to psychiatrists without any warnings or the information about a benzodiazepine being added to the trials. Within just a couple of years, startled and concerned physicians reported a sudden increase of suicidal ideation of at least 4x more than previous years. Pfizer successfully defended against a government inquiry (there’s a reason the largest lobby in Washing ton is the pharmaceutical industry). There’s too much more info to write about here.
      This particular information came to light in the execution of a court-ordered discovery motion. Pfizer documentation told the story of people becoming aggressive on Prozac. The safety and efficacy of these drugs, Prozac included, is built upon lies and deceit. Those who think this is not true are either representing Big Pharma, have not done a realistic amount of research, or have been taking these type of drugs themselves (SSRIs) and are in denial.
      I make a living assisting people in getting off these types of drugs when they repeatedly fail at it because their physicians do not know how to do this. I hear people’s stories day after day. Unfortunately, dogs can’t just tell you how poorly they are feeling from a withdrawal schedule that is too rapid.
      Those who have pets with problems like separation anxiety would be best off to see a holistic vet familiar with homeopathy or flower essences. These both work quite well for this condition. A phone consultation in these circumstances will suffice.
      L:aurie, if you read what you wrote, you repeatedly contradict yourself.

  3. I wonder if the dog owners in Europe are aware of the problems giving pets prozac or other drugs. The frightenting thing about this is, what the USA does this year, Europe will follow like sheep for next year.
    Will pet owners have the strength to realise that puppies are excitable and noisey and race around like young children but hopefully parents DO NOT start prescribing depression pills for their children. Anyone who has become totatlly adicted to these drugs will persuade puppy owners not to use them. Exercising their dogs carefully but regularly and get them socialised with other dog owners will soon show the best way to stop the dogs being considered ‘off the dial’ and a normal action of a puupy as it grows up. Here’s hoping and praying.

  4. I can not believe people would be so stupid as to allow a vet or anyone else put their beloved pet on these horrible drugs. I would not put my worst enemy on the damnable things. Personally I think the makers of the poisons should all be in jail. They are causing far more harm than good in this world to both human and animal and they know it. All they care about is money and have absolutely no concern for the suffering they cause.

    1. Believe it – they llike to submit to authority. The only hope is to raise another authority. That’s why we spend our time on forums like this.

  5. Anti-Depressants for pets! Now you know the industry is ‘making a killing’ without concern for the havoc they create.
    Of course, this same problem applies to America’s children as well – But artist Chill E. B. has made an industrial strength noise about this main stream crime. Just as in Children, corporate drug pushers must all be challenged for all drugging targets to DEFINE BETTER!

  6. If any people reading this a feeling overwhelmed because their dog is on Prozac or another habit forming drug, I have some advice. When I was a teenager puberty hit me hard, after a childhood living in constant terror and shame I “flipped out”! I also had severe OCD. I was of course put on anti-depressants (this was the 90’s the dawning of the age of of prozac). Prozac tactually made me manic (crazy hyper and aggressive which got me an diagnosis of bi-polar. When I got older I tried to stop the meds but know one had told me that it would make me feel like I was losing my mind, crushing depression. horror. I assumed it meant that I must really need them. But now i am educated and after several failed attempts to rid myself of these drugs that do not work I finally figured out how to get off them comfortably. (My OCD was by the way was cured by my own behavior modification program with the help of my friends. Drugs did not help!) But back to point, the reason it’s so hard to get off is because you are given a time frame that is to fast. Prozac is a capsule with tiny beads in it, two different colors, don’t know if they are the same. but open your dogs or your own capsule and count out the tiny beads (I would keep the two colors counted separately. Then take about a 1/16 of them out. If prozac cap’s don’t come apart easy then just put remaining beads in cheese or something your dog likes. Keep an eye on pooch, they can’t tell you how they feel, if he seems a little off put more of the beads back. But every 1 to 2 weeks remove a very small amount. I am on Cymbalta a third gen anti-D in the prozac family and I have been able to cut my dose in half so far using this method. At first I was very cautious taking only a few beads at a time out but then I realized that I could go down 15 mg’s at a time but I had to do it slow. !5 mg.’s a week to two weeks depending on how I felt. I went from 120 mg to 60 mg and am so excited to be 1/2 way off. If your drug is a hard pill, get a pill splitter. If it is a hard pill that is time released find out if breaking up affects the release, if it does switch to a non time released. It means taking more actual pills but not more meds. I hope this helps.

  7. “Dogs addicted to Prozac become unadoptable.”
    Think about this situation a little. Could you write fiction as good as this? IMO either we as a society start to THINK independent of the MEDIA, the MEDICAL INDUSTRY, our DOCTORS and the GOVERNMENT or it is all over.
    Next up: The union representing the slave boxcar loaders wants to open negations with the US Department of Slave to Grave Transportation on not working on Sunday. “Sunday should be for the lord.” the union leader has stated.

  8. Another horrific example of tackling the symptom not the cause. Why on earth would you give anti-depressants to dogs? The problem is that too little attention is given to the behavioral requirements of animals so problems arise because the animals are stressed and distressed.
    I have been a dog owner for years and have always kept 2 dogs together. Dogs are pack animals and need companionship (in contrast to cats which are naturally more solitary animals). The reason dogs are destructive is that they get bored and anxious when left alone. I have NEVER had a problem with destructiveness because my dogs are content and happy because they always have a companion.
    The same goes for horses. They are herd animals and in my opinion should never be kept alone either.
    Why are kids prescribed so many drugs today for ADD? Because they are bored with the unimaginative delivery of useless facts in school and crave stimulation and the opportunity to use their imagination.
    Deal with the cause not the symptom and the drugs become unnecessary.

  9. I wish I had known or there had been Prozac or some such anti-depressant back in the early 80’s. We had a wonderful family dog that became totally destructive if put in an enclosed space or left at home. She completely mangled our main bathroom (door, medicine cabinet, wood cabinets and floor) and I didn’t think a dog could damage a bathroom. I now know she had severe separation anxiety. Of course in the early 80’s there was little known about it, about behavior modification regarding this or drugs. I agree with those of you who say that a dog (or cat) could be weaned off the drug but the bottom line is that the animal’s behavior may be such that it has to stay on the drug in order to be acceptable as a pet. Bottom line is that saying a blanket statement that a dog in not adoptable if on anti-depressants is over the top when there are so many other factors to be considered. I was on Prozac and simply stopped taking it when I started having symptoms I could not deal with (teeth grinding at night). My hubby was on Zocor (I think – not sure but something like that) for a few months and just stopped taking it. Neither of us had horrible symptoms. That is not to say those of you who have had awful experiences are somehow weird or whatever – we are all different and react differently to medications, food, etc. No blanket statements can fit us all.

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