Can Prozac Help Dogs With Obsessive Personality Disorders?

I have a Vizsla mix (18-months, neutered male) who is highly excitable in the extreme and also exhibits a lot of obsessive behavior like running...


I have a Vizsla mix (18-months, neutered male) who is highly excitable in the extreme and also exhibits a lot of obsessive behavior like running in circles for hours at a time trying to catch lizards or bees. I have been working with both a private behaviorist/trainer and the owner/operator of the kennel/day care where he goes.

After several months with him, they both have suggested that he needs Prozac, as the non-medication approaches we have pursued are not working. My vet seems reluctant to prescribe Prozac. What do you think about Prozac? I adopted him from the pound nine months ago and have tried my best, but now I am at my wits end with this dog.

San Diego, CA

The word Prozac has become associated with many ideas in our culture. At first, Prozac symbolized an easy solution to a complicated problem: clinical depression. Over time, as Prozac failed to live up to the unrealistic hype, the name has become associated in many people’s minds with disappointment. Among doctors and veterinarians, a Prozac prescription sometimes is seen, unfairly in many cases, as a cop out for professionals who can’t be bothered to engage in serious therapy (in humans) or behavior modification (in pets).

Prozac and other psychotropic medications can help with certain behavioral disorders in pets. But Prozac is not a panacea. It works best in conjunction with serious training and behavior modification. I always recommend that owners work the training and behavior modification angle before they give Prozac to their dogs. Prozac shouldn’t be a first choice.

Gary, your efforts to work with your dog sound commendable indeed. For a situation such as yours, in which a bona fide effort has been made to change behavior without medication, drugs such as Prozac are, in my opinion, an acceptable next step.

Talk to your vet about this matter again. Don’t expect a miracle, and be patient (the full effects of medicines such as Prozac might not be realized for over a month). Your dog will need regular blood tests while on the medication. But it sounds like it’s worth trying.

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