June 29, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
By 2015, at any given moment, 2 out of every 5 Americans will be taking some form of psychiatric drug. Between 2010 and 2014 we spent $7.5 billion on anti-psychotic meds, $5 billion on antidepressants and $4.2 billion on drugs to treat various forms of Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD and ADD).
And when we aren’t stocking up on generic meds from Wal-Mart, CVS or Walgreens we get the stronger stuff, the prescription drugs from our friendly psychiatrist’s office. Almost always. At least according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 90% of the time Americans leave the psychiatrist’s couch they don’t leave empty-handed.
But here’s the rub.
Increasingly, we are “sharing” our anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs like Prozac, valium, Xanax, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Luvox with our beloved dogs, cats and birds.
In other words, Rover, Fluffy and Polly really are resembling their masters more each day. At least when it comes to their choice of meds.
The fastest growing market for OTC and prescription drugs in America today?
It is now the direct to consumer market for pet pharmaceuticals.
In 2014 we have already spent $8 billion on pet-pills for our little bundles of joy and fur and by 2015 it is estimated that the pet pharmaceutical industry in America alone will rake in $9.5 billion annually.
Eli Lilly Inc., reports that its pet pharmaceutical division saw its sales soar over $1.4 billion this year. It did so well that it is outpacing its human division.
Zoetis, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of animal drugs sees the trend of increased “drug use” among domesticated animals continuing into the near future.
They also point out that the overall (not mainly psychotic drugs) animal-pharma industry is about $102 billion worth of which close to $25 million is geared towards combating livestock disease through vaccines and other medicines.
Fair point. Veterinarians need and use legitimate pharmaceutical drugs daily and provide expert health care to animals in need. So do legitimate “people doctors” and hospitals.
But just like the answer to any question that has the word “stress” in it probably should not always be “more Prozac, please,” the answer to every pet issue probably shouldn’t be more pet-drugs.
Ok. Let’s allow all these billion here and billion there numbers to settle just a bit. The bigger point to figure out is just what in the name of “Cesar the Dog Whisperer” are we doing to our pets?
Do they really need all these drugs? Do we?
Animal Psychiatrists have a number of theories (well, of course they do) to explain our behavior which seems to be greatly influencing our pets.
Seems a number of factors, like more and more adults who are staying single well into their 30s and 40s are in greater need of some emotional attachment but for many reasons (work, travel, incompatibility, fear of commitment, financial) they aren’t getting it from fellow humans but seek out the more unconditional type of animal love.
Also, say psychiatrists, when the “master” or pet owner is stressed out the pets get stressed out too. And with the economy, job demands making a work-fun imbalance, we, apparently, have less and less “quality” time to spend with our pets. The result? You guessed it-we turn more frequently to psychotic drugs to cope, and, say some experts, we figure what’s good for us must also be good for our pets.
But it is it really?
Take for example, the tiny dog breeds, the toy breeds, the “yippers” as a colleague calls them-Chihuahuas, Terriers, Pomeranians, it would seem like “hyper” activity, lots of barking and seemingly never staying still is part of what comes with “owning” one of these pups.
Not so fast, say representatives of the pet pharma industry. They tout that yes, you can get all the cuteness of such breeds but not the “annoying” downsides through “calming” drugs such as Prozac.
Maybe that’s how Paris Hilton keeps her tiny pup so quiet and still in her Gucci purse?
Is your dog scared of noisy thunderstorms (hey, who isn’t)?
There is a (actually many) drug for that.
Does your pit-bull seem a tad, um, aggressive?
There’s a drug for that.
Does your furry feline seem a bit “lazy” and unresponsive (aren’t all cats)?
There are drugs to “pep” h/her up and make them more affectionate.
Does your bird, you know, overdo it with the bird calls?
Yep, drugs galore, my friend, you need only to ask.
Look, loving your pet, becoming attached to it, wanting to keep it happy and healthy, is well, healthy and natural. Treating it like a human “pet” and assuming it wants, it needs, the type of meds and drugs that we may (may not) need is not as healthy according to the folks at the AMA.
On the other hand, abandoned pets is becoming a growing problem in America. Every year about 7 to 8 million dogs/cats/birds (this group is the highest incidence) are abandoned because its owner found them “too difficult” to keep anymore.
Pet Store owners are reporting an increase in “returns,” the bird that turned out to be annoying after a month or two, the dog who was just too much work, the cat who wasn’t “cuddly.”
Are drugs to “modify’ pet behavior then the answer?
The pet friendly folks at the Humane Society tell us that above all else, education, knowing more about what is and is not natural animal behavior and what to expect and what not to expect before we “own” a pet is vital.
Those non-stop bird calls Polly does, well, that’s what parrots do. The Chihuahua that yips, a lot, maybe a St. Bernard would have been a better choice for you, though you’ll need a way bigger purse. Looking for lots of love from Ms. Paw-Prints? Are you sure a cat is the long-term answer (c’mon cat-lovers tell me I’m wrong)?
Seriously, isn’t it time we stopped treating our pet animals just like little-people and stopped trying to drug them into some type of “Zombified” state of being?
And maybe ourselves?
[Below the Tiger are some links you may want to check out to find out more about this growing issue of pet over-medication and drugs.]