Prozac for Pets

There once was a time when unruly pets were sent to obedience school to solve the problem rather than be medicated with powerful drugs. But once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of Prozac (fluoxetine-based) for pets, it was a foregone conclusion that pet owners would jump at the chance of an easy fix.

Prozac is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class which gained wide popularity once it was FDA-approved in 1987 for the treatment of depression, then later obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa and panic disorder. It remains one of the most popular mood stabilizing drugs on the market despite the numerous product liability lawsuits filed against drug maker Eli Lilly and Company for the adverse effects of Prozac on humans.

Called Reconcile, the mood stabilizing drug for dogs based on the Prozac formula, was developed and marketed by Eli Lilly and Company as a chewable tablet designed to be given once a day to a dog which exhibits anxiety or nervousness when the pet owner goes away during the day. Animal experts are disturbed by the growing trend of pet owners who prefer to drug their dogs than to spend more time with them, which would do wonders to alleviate feelings of insecurity and fear in these already much-constrained animals.

This concern is not so much a matter of the idea of a chemical stopgap; antidepressants have a notoriously long list of potential adverse reactions which are somehow mitigated in many cases because physicians consider the benefits to outweigh the drawbacks. But in the case of pets, the same side effects apply and since a diagnosis of mental illness is unlikely, there are no real benefits to the animal. There have been reports that there is a potential to exacerbate behavior problems of dogs that had been put on Reconcile.