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Managing Anxiety in Dogs

Dogs commonly have anxiety problems. Symptoms include issues such as: destruction and panic when left alone; anxiety and vocalizing when crated; severe thunderstorm phobia; and, panic when shipping carriers deliver packages to front porch.  Some dogs experiencing separation anxiety have been known to chew through sheetrock and plywood causing great damage to the owner’s house as well as to the dog’s teeth and claws.  These disorders can be very frustrating and expensive to pet owners causing them to seek immediate relief of symptoms from a veterinarian. In addition to situational anxiety disorders, general “calming” of a dog is sometimes needed, particularly surgery when the animal’s activity must be restricted to allow healing. The medication trazodone is now utilized widely by veterinary surgeons and animal behaviorists to provide calming for anxious veterinary patients.Trazodone typically has very few, mild adverse effects which are usually limited to sedation, lethargy and ataxia.  Because trazodone can interact with other medications and cause very serious side effects, it is important that the veterinarian and compounding pharmacist are advised of any other medications the dog may be taking, particularly antidepressants or the pain medication tramadol.
Unfortunately, trazodone tablets have been in very short supply since September 2011.  Pet owners requiring a calming agent for their anxious or recuperating animals can contact our compounding pharmacists, who are able to prepare patient-specific dosage forms of trazodone for patients during the drug shortage including trazodone capsules, medicated treats and oral suspensions.  For smaller patients, oral suspensions of trazodone 10mg/ml are known to be stable for 30 days when refrigerated. 



Gruen ME, Sherman BL. Use of trazodone as an adjunctive agent in the treatment of canine anxiety disorders: 56 cases (1995-2007). J Am Vet Med Assoc. Dec 2008;233(12):1902-1907.

Pesko LJ. Compounding: trazodone oral liquid. Am Druggist, 1992; 205:58.

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