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Sunday, January 17, 1999 Published at 09:53 GMT


'Prozac' for pooches

Brighter outlook for depressed dogs

Ever wondered how to stop your dog going barking mad? Well, a drug company may now have come up with the perfect solution - a prozac for pooches.

The BBC's Cece Leadon: New drug for dogs
A new drug to treat dogs suffering from depression has been licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The pills are said to help dogs which cannot cope with being home alone.

Experts describe the condition as separation anxiety. Up to seven million dogs in the US are said to suffer from the condition.

Vets say it can lead to a wide range of symptoms can include incessant barking, soiling and other destructive behaviour when left alone.

[ image: Home alone can be stressful]
Home alone can be stressful
"Videotapes of this dog have show that they are in extreme distress. These are dogs that are barking or whining, urinating and defecating in the house, destroying the house, chewing the dry wall and pulling up the carpeting," said Debra Horwitz, veterinarian psychologist.

"These dogs are extremely anxious and suffering, they may even go as far as to jump out of a window, or break off teeth trying to escape from a crate, so this is beyond just missing, these dogs can do some real harm to themselves."

The new medication comes in the form of a meat flavoured pill called Clomicalm. It is a derivative of the anti-drepessant Anafranil, which is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders in humans.

The drug has been produced by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis and is available by prescription for adult dogs.

But there is a price to pay. The side effects may be more difficult to handle than the anxiety disorder, they can include vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dogowners appeared sceptical about feeding anti-depressants to their pets.

"I would think unless its some radical case you wouldn't want to give them a doggy Prozac, who knows what that's going to do to them," said a man playing with his dog in a park in New York.

"I think probably most dogs would rather have some attention and a lot of exercise and a good trainer if you have a problem. If none of that works I suppose it's you last resort," said another dogowner.

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