The Use of Fluoxetine in Dogs in Veterinary Behavior Practice: Prevalence of Side Effects
Fluoxetine is commonly used to treat behavioral disorders in dogs. As in human medical practice, prescription habits may differ from recommendations based on clinical studies.
This study explores the use of fluoxetine in French veterinary behavior practice, with a focus on side effects.
Twenty French veterinary behaviorists completed a general survey about prescribing fluoxetine for dogs.
Sixteen of the veterinarians also completed a questionnaire on side effects in 130 dogs they treated with fluoxetine. Each dog received behavioral therapy. The average age of the dogs was 27.6 months, the average weight 18.8 kg, and the average fluoxetine dosage prescribed was 2.57 mg/kg/day. The sex ratio was 1.89.
Thirteen of the 20 veterinarians indicated that fluoxetine is the psychotropic that they prescribe most commonly. The side effects they reported included loss of appetite, lethargy, apathy, tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation, hypervigilance, anxiety and sleeping disorders.
Sixty-eight dogs out of 130 exhibited side effects. Nineteen/29 dogs that were treated at a dosage <2 mg/kg exhibited side effects. Forty-nine/101 dogs that were treated at a dosage 2 mg/kg exhibited side effects.
There was no statistical difference in the number of side effects found between the two populations (p=0.1).The side effects described were similar to those reported in the general survey.
This study confirms the major side effects reported in previous studies. In addition, it reveals that high dosages of fluoxetine do not trigger side effects more frequently than lower dosages. These results provide a baseline for future studies on veterinarians’ prescription habits.