Pill Popping Pets. Are We Turning our Pets into Drug Addicts?

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June 29, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

bulldog

Get that needle away from me dawg. I’m fine the way I am thank you.

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.

CA puss and boots

You do know I am not real, right, Amigo?

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.

Zoetis

Keeping livestock healthy sure seems legitimate, drugging pets into Zombies, not so much

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.

cat owner man

What?

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.

chihuahua w big eyes

The only “drug” I want is part of your Beef-Burrito mi amigo.

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?

Paris Hilton and dog

Of course I know she’s an animal…wait, what?

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.”

Parrot

What about me told you I’d never open my beak before you got me? Knucklehead, Knucklehead, Polly want a new owner.

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)?

cat owner female

We both get nervous and depressed a bit around humans.

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.]

bengal-tiger-why-matter_7341043

http://www.humanesociety.org/

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/21/do_our_pets_need_prozac_are_we_making_them_feel_better_or_ourselves/?source=newsletter

http://www.zoetis.com/growing-industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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38 thoughts on “Pill Popping Pets. Are We Turning our Pets into Drug Addicts?

  1. Paulina Z says:

    My pets are my babies, I love them as much, ok, more than most of my people family BUT I am not their drug connection! I try to give them natural and healthy foods. I have thought maybe some of my prescription meds in the past only becuz I know they get down when I’m down but after reading this blog guess that’s not a good thing. IDK.

    • Taton T says:

      Good idea Paulina! I am willing to bet that they can get along fine without the drugs and they definitely do not need your drugs.

  2. Cassidy C. says:

    I found this blog very interesting. The statistics are scary, but not surprising. I have two dogs, a four year old and two year old. My husband and I keep up with their yearly vet visits and keep them both up to date on their heart worm and flea and tick prevention medications, but we do not put them on medicine because they are scared of bad weather. I think keeping them healthy and giving them medicines for infection is acceptable. Giving them medicines to calm them down is a bit much! If you see that a dog is too hyper for you, find a good home for it and get one that’s suitable for you. Giving your animals medicines that are not necessary will harm them in the long run.

  3. Timothy C says:

    I do not own a pet- though as a child in rural Central Georgia my family always had pets (dogs). Actually, pet ownership might have been a requirement for our community- everyone seemed to own dogs, cats, snakes, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, horses, and any manner of bird you could imagine. 🙂

    It amazes me the amount of effort and money it takes to own a pet now. Back in the day, our dogs received their shots and that was about it. We never had veterinarian bills. There was no need for pet medication beyond pills for worms and Mange, or doggie chewables for bad breath. If our dog was ill, we never knew it beyond the occasional episode of eating grass and associated vomiting. We didn’t incur costs to euthanize. If a pet was injured or suffering, we just took him for a walk/ride in the woods and eventually ended up with a new pet. Also, our animals were primarily kept out doors- no kissing on the mouth, eating from the table, scratching up the hardwood floors, or having its own bedroom. If they were anxious, we didn’t know because pets had all outdoors to run it off or otherwise work their trails and tribulations. Without todays medicinal intervention, our pets lived Long and Happy lives OUT DOORS.

    • Tim, you’ll appreciate this nugget-an interior designer friend of mine tells me that a fast growing trend is designing “pet bedrooms,” complete with art to help enhance a well adjusted and content pet! She also says that a well equipped room can go for as much as $15,000 depending on one’s budget!

  4. Rachel B. says:

    I honestly was not aware of the popularity in medicating pets, nor did I know it was really an option. I was aware that there are medications for animals. My dog had surgery several years ago and afterwards I had to give him meds to fight infection. That seemed normal cause we too take medications to fight infections. I never would have thought of giving him other types of medications. I do believe that some people face problems and having medications that combat ADHD or depression can really help. That being said I also believe a lot of people on these types of medications don’t actually need them. I feel that sometimes it seems like the easiest solution is to just give someone pills to fix a problem, but we have to think about side effects and what these pills are doing to us. At least humans can make a conscious decision to accept the medication from the doctor and take it if they want, or to not use them if they think they are excessive. Our pets cannot do this. Also, who is to say if an animal is hyperactive and needs medication, or if one is really depressed? My dog is a very calm, relaxed dog most of the time. He lies out front when I’m in the yard and people can walk by with other dogs and he won’t even get up. I never would have thought he’s depressed. He is calm most of the time and I think part of it is age. He’s 13 years old. I have also seen him get super excited and run up to someone he likes. Sometimes he bark’s to get your attention when he really wants something or he’ll make this whining sound when he’s happy to see you. Just because he’s calm and relaxed 90% of the time doesn’t mean he’s depressed and needs meds. I worry we are becoming a society that medicates as a solution to any problem, but it can be dangerous. Using this approach on our animals is crossing a line and I hope it’s something that will change.

  5. Chandria says:

    This is a very interesting topic. I have had pets all of my life. Like a previous respondent, during my childhood years, my pets stayed outdoors a majority of the time. However, as an adult, I vowed to have indoor pets because that was always my wish as a child. Unfortunately, I did not count on the toll that 40+ hour work weeks can have on person. It seemed I had the opportunity to spend countless hours with our cats and dog as a child. As an adult, I sometimes find it challenging to even take my dog for walks during the weekdays. I often worry that my pets are not receiving the interaction that they deserve from me. Fortunately, my mother lives with me and spends time with my pets throughout the day but it is still not the same because she’s not likely to pet them or pick them up like I do.

    My point here is that drugs for pets is absurd. It is the pet owners that must change their behaviors. The alternative is for people to simply choose to not have pets in the first place.

  6. Rebecca K says:

    I know of people who share anti-inflammatory medication with their pets. Pets can be expensive to keep, especially as they get older. But they are loved like family and I agree with keeping them healthy and happy, but just like people there is a line. I know that with my health insurance coverage it would be much less expensive for me to go to the doctor and get a prescription to give to my dogs than it might be to get it from the vet. I would be concerned that it could easily be the wrong dose or type of medication. I know that when the market feel in 2008 and after that there were a lot of abandoned pets due to financial reasons. A big problem we have here in Athens is that students get a dog or cat at the beginning of the school year and then leave it when they go home for the summer.

  7. Taton T says:

    I think we have lost it. We have weakened as a society, and that may seem ruthless to say, but just look around. There seems to always be an easy way out. This includes drugs. 100 years ago…200 years ago…500 years ago…these problems existed, but they were not taking these drugs and the population got along fine. If the masses cannot get along without these drugs now then we NEED to figure out what is causing these problems today and FIX IT!!!!

  8. Marquis S says:

    The very first statistic really stood out to me. “By 2015, at any given moment, 2 out of every 5 Americans will be taking some form of psychiatric drug.” I think this is just an example of our need to over medicate ourselves (and now our pets) rather than focusing on being able to adjust, adapt, and cope with difficult situations. I am in no way saying that psychiatric medication is a bad thing. It’s a very good thing, and I’ve seen the positive impact it can have in helping people manage mental disorders. But there are two key words in that: “people” and “manage.” Just because people may not mind being under the effects of psychiatric medication does not mean that an animal would want this. I don’t think an animal is meant to calm down. It’s an animal. But perhaps, we want our animals to act like us, rather than accepting and appreciating the fact that they are animals and are completely different from people. Medication is meant to help manage a disorder. However, I feel oftentimes it is viewed as a solution to an issue rather than developing coping mechanisms. To medicate a pet I feel is to look for a quick fix rather than understanding the needs of the pet and making the necessary adjustments to accommodate it. Even if a pet is out of control, animals can learn new behaviors, just as people can. It just takes the time, patience, and willingness to make adjustments.

  9. Fransiska says:

    I honestly believe that animals are animals. Yes, they are nice, soft and beautiful to look at. My thoughts are that animals should remain in the wild. There are so many people that being animals from other countries; the animals then reproduce and have a new species of animals. This causes an unbalance of the ecosystem that cause problems. Pills should not be in the diet of animals. I can understand if the animal is about to die then we can intervene in wild life animals. Humans are the care-keeper of all life.

  10. Jacki G says:

    This is an interesting topic for me because I am a huge dog person and have very mixed feelings about prescription drugs. I do think RXs, such as antidepressants and mood-stabilizers, can be effective and do help some people, but I also believe whole-heartedly that they are over prescribed and know for a fact DRs hand them out like candy. The fact that there is a huge group of DRs giving animals mood stabilizers only strengthens my opinion that prescription drugs are being over prescribed.

    One part of this blog mentions the fact that we are medicating ourselves because we are stressed and overworked and turn to prescription drugs to improve our mood. Then animal owners who know they are neglecting their dogs because they are overworked end up medicating their animals as well. Is the irony not obvious? Is this not a clear indicator that we need to slow down and take care of ourselves naturally, and our animals natural as well.

    To be, this is indicative of a bigger societal problem. Many people think of their animals as children. I know I do. I want biological children one day, but for now my dogs are my children. However, when I am stressed out and absent, am I going to shove a prescription pill down my child’s (biological) throat? Um no. I definitely wont do it to my pet, and I am even more sure I would never do it to my child.

    So why are more young children and teens taking prescription drugs? Perhaps because their parents are stressed and overworked and absent from their lives. Maybe it is more socially acceptable to shove a mood stabilizer down your pet’s throat because your pet is your pet. he/she cant actually speak or talk and how can they argue? But if you were to voice out loud that you were intentionally medicating your children because you knew you were an absent parent, would this be acceptable? No. Not in my opinion. But, perhaps children turn to the drugs, prescribed and illegal, on their own, when their relational needs are not being met at home.

    Lastly, the fact that animals cannot speak is why I have another problem with animals being medicated. As I mentioned earlier, I am not against prescription pills, but I am against abusing them and DRs overprescribing them because it makes them so much money. However, when they are prescribed correctly, it is usually because a patient has a sincere conversation with his or her DR, counselor, and/or psychiatrist. And when these conversations take place, they usually revolve around what is going on in one’s mind, how one feels on a day to day basis, in addition to physical problems. Can animals voice these concerns? No, Medicating animals for assumed emotional illnesses (when all they need is a nice long walk and genuine attention) often results in endless side effects that require additional medications to offset. It is an endless cycle that thankfully my two precious pups will never be a part of.

  11. Jennifer M says:

    This was an interesting post to read. I didn’t know that this was such a common occurrence! I can understand giving a pet medication when it is medically necessary due to illness, but beyond that I think it’s over the top. I had a vet tell me once that my German Shepherd had a food allergy and needed to be put on a special food that cost $80 a week. Turns out she had ear mites. I treated it with rubbing alcohol and she was fine. Seems like the animal doctor world is following closely in line with the human doctor world. People need to take more responsibility for their pets and make better decisions when choosing one that will suit their family.

    • It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and growing…also, big pharmaceutical companies are now entertaining vets and even taking them on cruises if they prescribe certain amounts of their product for pets…

  12. Patricia B says:

    Sadly, i think this is symptomatic of our culture. (Is there a drug for THAT?) We over medicate ourselves, we over medicate our kids, why not our pets? However, having owned cats, dogs, parakeets, lizards, snakes, fish, gerbils, hamsters, etc over the years (I raised 5 kids – and they all managed to have pets “follow them home”) I can honestly say that I would rather deal with a psychotic animal than have to try and give medication to any of them! It has never been an enjoyable process.

    Animals need medication when they are ill or injured. When they are bored, scared, lonely they need companionship and reassurance. If you cannot find time to give them that, don’t get a pet to start with! How cruel to medicate an animal simply for your convenience. But then, we have parents and teachers who advocate medicating kids into zombie states simply because their behavior is inconvenient so what should we expect?

  13. Michael R. says:

    This article was very interesting. The stats, specifically, the report that stated “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” was rather alarming. $9.5 billion, with a “B”, on pet medication? $9.5 billion! Wow! Look, I have a pet dog and I am all for providing him with the medication that he may need in the event of a medical procedure, surgery, or illness or infection, but c’mon. Just because my pup takes a 3 hour nap instead of a 90 minute nap does not mean that I run out and lace him with a drug that peps him up. Maybe he was legitimately, you know, sleepy.

  14. cynthia h says:

    Personally, I’m one of those people that avoids medications. I will always try and self-medicate prior to visiting the doctor’s office. I don’t think putting all those drugs in your body is good. I have seen loved ones literally medicate themselves to death…..and perhaps that’s why I would rather suffer a little prior to seeking medical assistance. Anyhow, it’s sad that folks are duplicating this trend over to their pets. Folks are doing it to their children too. In fact, isn’t that the case with our beef and such? We jack them up with antibiotics…..It’s scary, really.

  15. Car-ra B says:

    Wow! I don’t have any pets on my own, so I’ve never thought of prescription medicine for pets. I don’t consider medicine as being pet friendly, unless a veterinarian is preventing or treating a sickness, or it is needed for surgery procedures, but not daily doses. With all the possible side effects that humans have from any given type of medicine, I don’t think it’s safe for animals to be given or prescribed medicine meant for human ailments. In my opinion, drugging animals to modify their behavior is inhumane. It’s hard to even fathom a black market for pet drugs; however, I’m truly not surprised. Smh. The part that I personally find extremely disturbing is the medicating of livestock. Yes, these drugs are meant to keep the livestock healthy, but what about once the human consumes the livestock? This medicine could quite possibly and unknowingly harm humans.

  16. Rebecca L says:

    When I first saw this blog posting, I smiled at the title, but didn’t read it. On Saturday, I sent an email to a friend about how my dog (a pembroke welsh corgi) is terrified of thunder and fireworks and that he didn’t leave my side on July 4. She responded that her dog has his own account at Walgreens for the anti-anxiety medicine he takes. She says she calls the pharmacy and says, “I need to refill Big Buddy O’s prescription…” I chuckled and thought immediately of this blog posting. While we’ve never given anything like that to our dogs, we did have a golden retriever once (Bonnie) who “took” glucosomine chondroiten (sp?) as she aged. My husband recently started taking it and he said, “it worked for Bonnie!” So in many cases, people give pets meds because it worked for the human. In my husband’s case, he’s taking the supplement because it worked for the dog. Talk about messed up!

  17. Christie S says:

    I think pills have gotten to the point where they are addictive. People in our society believe that pills can solve everything and they need pills to function daily. It’s a hard topic with pets because they are usually not using them for migraines, stomachaches or soreness. I believe it is wrong to give pets any dose of medicine that they do not need. I think many doctors can be the problem. They prescribe many medicines to humans and pets that enable their habits to think they need it. Times have obviously changed but a daily life of a pet has not.

  18. Khari L says:

    These issue fall under the pet owners thinking their pets are kids. Pills should never be used on animals unless they are wild and have the potential to attacks humans. Those type of pills simply calm the animals down. That does not mean the same pill will always work because some pets may need a stronger dosage. The fact that human think drugging their pets resolves there problems in life really scares me. Human society should try to handle their problems on their own first and if they feel they do need some drugs to neutralize depression then they should consult a doctor. I can guarantee those doctors who proscribe those drugs will not request that humans should give their drugs to their pets. The article mentions Pet pills should also be used to help cure for different diseases such as livestock. The price for animal pharma industry can be cut down a little without causing individuals to lose employment.

  19. Nicole J says:

    Using drugs, and only drugs, to treat behavioral problems had become a huge thing in the past few decades. The only thing that keeps being repeated over and over is how to mask certain behaviors. And that the problem.. drugs only mask the problem. Why not come up with a solution to eliminate the problem from the source. For example, your pet is too hyper and won’t stop barking? Well maybe it needs a little exercise. Your pet won’t listen and is behaving? Again, maybe you should exercise your pet. It’s the same with kids. When you keep them cooped up in a house or room all day they become hyper and tend to get into trouble. My dog is the same way. If I am a bad owner and don’t run him for few days in a row he becomes so hyper and barely listens to any commands I give him. When I consistently exercise him, he is the best behaved dog you’ve every met. He listens, he is more affectionate and he doesn’t run around my apartment like a crazed animal. Doctors don’t care about this. You go to the doctor office wanting a definite answer to your pets problem and a pill to fix it. No one wants to pay to hear the answer “I don’t know whats causing this”. The patient wants an answer and an easy fix, and the doctors are willing to give us one which makes pharmaceutical companies happy too. It’s a win win for everyone. The problem is that no one wants deal with the actual responsibility of owning a pet and having to exercise them daily. We have become a lazy society that wants a magic pill to fix everything and as well as medical explanation to go along with it. No body wants to hear get off your lazy butt and go for a run or put down the cheeseburger and eat a salad. When in reality I believe exercise and a healthy diet will fix the majority of problems people (and animals) have.

  20. Jill V says:

    It infuriates me to hear people give their pets just anything: drugs, mediocre care, unclean water, etc. If you can’t manage your pet without drugs, maybe they aren’t for you. I have always been around animals. They need training. They need attention. I can also tell you what they don’t need (unless absolutely necessary) and that is DRUGS. Do I feel that heartworm and preventative treatments should be given?…of course. But Prozac for your dog…come on people. Duncan, my dog, fears storms. Yes, it can be a little annoying…but you know what…he copes with his Thundershirt . And I shouldn’t just harp on owners feeding their pets all these meds and trying to get them to mold either to the way they want them to be or what they feel is necessary. Really owners need to look at what all they’re coping with and if the medicines they take is their cure all. People need to fix their problems not masks them with drugs. Again, unless there is no other alternative option other than to medicate oneself or their little fluffies…I say…leave the med bottles be. Start with self-meditation, pet obedience, etc. etc. My pets are my family, and our health is my responsibility.

  21. Andy M says:

    I had two dogs last year but lost them last year through separation; now I’m a childless dude in his 30s living alone. It’s kinda funny, when I had the dogs I cared for and liked them sure, but every time one of them had to go to the vet for some injury or disease, which was surprisingly often, it could be hard to resist viewing them as money sinks of questionable worth. I even considered getting pet medical insurance for them, which is a whole other issue of treating our pets like little humans and thus letting another giant industry make money off our care for them. Now that they’re gone, though, I miss them a lot, more than I thought I would. I’ve even casually considered getting a cat to fill that void, even though I long considered myself Mr. Independent who didn’t need no stinking companion. So, I guess what I’m saying it, I get it. I certainly think overmedicating our pets is a valid concern and, like I said, worry about predatory pharma companies who view pet meds as the Next Big Thing and prey off our attachment to them, but I understand that attachment and wanting the best for them. However, I’ll admit the onus is largely on pet owners to acknowledge that pets are still animals and not people, and understand that caring the best for them does not always mean providing every one of the latest new pet meds or miracle cures.

    – Andrew M

  22. Luke E says:

    When I first read the title I giggle a bit. Personally, I think the main problem is that we don’t know what we want. And when we do know we tend to look past the reasons for not acting. The biggest problem in many situations is a lack of education. People far too often purchase something with out fully understanding the consequences of the purchase. Nearly every example given above is an effort to change the animal’s natural traits. Tailor your clothes to your body, or tailor your body to your clothes. But for heaven sake don’t tailor your pet’s behavior to model yours. One’s pet can be both a pet and a member of the family. I have two beagles with terrible separation anxiety. However, I don’t medicate them pharmaceuticals. I leave them outside. Sure they wig out a bit, but as soon as a squirrel darts by they are good for another hour (and squirrels are plentiful in my backyard). In that hour they forget my wife and I are at work. Another reason for the recent spikes in pet-aceuticals are pet owners trading children for pets. My wife worked with someone who had two dogs. These dogs went to doggie daycare to socialize, had their own wardrobe, wore jammies at night, and rode in car seats. That’s right! I didn’t know they made such things. I will say pet marketers are genius. I have literally bought dog food because of nutritional value and product ascetics. Furthermore, I have made purchases thinking, “I think Georgia and Carolina will really like this.” Thus, I can’t judge too harshly. I don’t think we need half the drugs we take. Sure if diet and exercise isn’t enough please take medicine to maintain your health. However, a healthy diet, exercise, and a beagle will make you happier!

  23. Thomas C says:

    I am a dog owner and must confess that I treat my dog like a member of my family. Nevertheless, I do believe that there is a limit to how much they should be treated like “little-people.” To me medicating my animal for something like anxiety (except for a true medically necessary reason) is a bit much. Vaccines and pain meds are fine for animals to help prevent diseases and to ease pain from procedures, ailments, etc. However, giving anxiety medicine in any other instance I feel is excessive.

    As a dog owner, I understand that my pet gets nervous. She huffs at the door and paces back and forth between my wife, the kids and myself. I have learned that this behavior means that somebody or something, like a cat or a squirrel is in the yard and she wants to go outside. Also, when I become agitated so does she. Once again, taking her outside is the perfect remedy. So far from my experience, anxiety in animals is a consequence of being domesticated. Thus, I believe that the cure should be to introduce a little more freedom and not complicate the issue with a little more medication.

  24. matthew. p says:

    Its amazing the amount of money that is spent on our pets. Its even more amazing that there is now pet insurance offered. I figure with the current state of affairs in our government, its just a matter of time before there is an Affordable Care Act for our pets. Before we know we will be able to buy our insurance and our pets insurance without fear of reprisal from the evil insurance companies for Fido’s pre-existing conditions.

  25. La'Keiya B says:

    Pharmaceuticals sure know how to make a profit. Medicines to protect pets’ health and prevent diseases should be the only medication ingested/injected. Owning a pet takes a lot of time and love. If for some reason ownership gets overwhelming, please find another safe home for Rocky or Lu-Lu.

  26. Shannon V says:

    I honestly never thought I’d have a discussion with my vet about anxiety, but I guess one can never say never! Last year, I lost my oldest beagle to cancer. He was about 15, and I had acquired him when he was a puppy. His “brother” was 13 at the time my old guy passed, and the loss of the one pet was so very difficult on the other. Beagles are pack dogs, and they had been together for almost 13 years. The pet left behind had so much anxiety, I was overwhelmed. In the end, he was never medicated, but the situation opened my eyes to the fact that situations may present themselves where certain medications may be necessary. To preserve life and prevent pain, I believe in pharmaceuticals for pets, but I do think – like everything in modern society – things can be taken to the extreme.

  27. Jaimie C says:

    After reading the first statistic in the first line of this blog I was hooked. I’m very surprised by this statistic. I was expecting the statistic to just read “medicine” like aspirin or cough medicine, but to read 2 in 5 Americans are taking psychiatric medicine is scary. Not that the people themselves are scary, but just the amount taking the medicine. It makes me wonder if the medicine is over prescribed. BUT then to go on and read the terrifying statistics of our animals taking medicine. I have never had an animal, so I don’t know what it is like to take care of one or feel responsible for its well being, but it seems sad to “drug” a dog. Animals can’t say “no.” The dog you call depressed might just be a melancholy. But again, I don’t have an animal so I would listen to the owner, it just makes me think.

  28. Ashley G says:

    I am a pet owner and I personally know that some of military neighbors give their pets anti-anxiety medication on a daily basis to keep their dog sedated while they are at work. Although the dog has separation issues, the dogs are completely out of it and the vet willingly prescribed the pills upon the request of the pet owner! Smh!

  29. Chandler W says:

    Well Im not a pet owner, however I can see how our obsession with prescription drugs has carried over into the lives of of species on this planet; “our pets”. I just recently had this conversation with someone that when I was in my toddler years up until age 15 or so, I dont remember my grandparents or my parents having to need so many prescriptions to manage thier lives or even the day to day routine. Their solutions, was eating right, walking, and laughter. We are a society, that has forgotten about how many things that affect is chemical, but the first medical solutions is life changing habits.
    As we move into a different era in medicine and science I fully support the ability of doctors and scientist to create and find new terms to offset or cure diseases and ailments, but I dont support the drug companies, that filtrate the halls of hospitals and doctors office for frankly maintaining profit margins.

  30. callen m says:

    My yorkie, Max, was attacked by a jack russell that lived down the street from us several years ago and after the incident occurred he began to become more aggressive towards other dogs. He became even more hyper and out of control around other dogs and every time we took him outside. We took him to several behavior classes and trainers, each of course with their own ideas and methods. The last trainer we took him to wanted to prescribe him medicine after her evaluation. I was a bit taken back by her recommendation, but was willing to try anything at that point. So at just 3 years of age our 12lb yorkie was put on a daily prescription of prozac and valium. We saw a subtle change in him, but the aggression towards other dogs and outside insanity continued. We continued to push through paying the monthly bills at CVS for our “child” Max’s medicine. We eventually moved and settled into a new home away from where the attack happened. After our move we saw a drastic improvement in Max. We began to realize that it was his fear of the attack and the other dog that was creating anxiety for him. While he is still a terrier and a yapper he does not need to be on any medication and really never did. From my personal experience I cannot say I think that these drugs are as beneficial on animals as they are on humans. I think it is an easy way for pharmaceutical companies to make an extra dime or a few billion!

  31. julianwjr says:

    Oh, get over it, people!

    There is absolutely nothing morally or ethically reprehensible about medicating animals, large or small, when it is beneficial to the animal. Nor is it wrong to give animals medications that make life better not only for them but for their owners. And yes, before you go there,that can even be true when the prime motivator for the prescription was for the convenience of the human owner.

    Here are two real life examples. The very happy animals in these stories, C.J. and Pinto, are resting comfortably and contentedly at my feet, waiting for it to cool off enough for their evening walk with Daddy.

    C.J. is a 28 pound Jack Russell / Beagle mix I adopted from the pound about six years ago. The dog catcher had found him running loose, down to about 18 pounds and covered in fleas and ticks the size of grapes.He had on a collar but no tags. The estimated he had been on his own for about six months. His estimated age was two to three years old.

    My housekeeper went with me to pick him up. I was a 61 year-old male in a wheelchair at the time. He took to her immediately, as he does to all females to this day. However, at first, he did not trust me at all, as ids the case to this day with all males he meets for the first time.

    From day one, C.J,. has always been a very sweet, well behaved dog. He has never chewed on anything he was not given to chew. He’s great with kids and other dogs. He came to me housebroken.

    That deepened the mystery of why someone had put him out on the street with no identification and why he showed signed of having been treated badly by a man.

    Well, after about a week, he had warmed up to me and seemed to trust me. Then, one day, i was mystified when he peed on my bed. I’m not talking a small, marking pee but a full on, badder emptying pee. I dd not get mad. I was just mystified because he would usually come get me to take him out when he needed to go. This peeing on the bed happened a couple of more times.

    Then, one day, I noticed that he was not at my feet here in my office. When I went to look for him, I found him in the middle of my bed, trembling all over. He then explosively blew his bladder. That was his and my lucky day.

    I’m a former Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman. I recognized immediately that I was witnessing a petit mal seizure. When I took him to the vet, described his actions and expressed my opinion as to the correct diagnosis, he agreed with me on the spot. That was six years ago this month. C.J. has taken 1/4 grain of phenobarbital every twelve hours ever since. He has never had another seizure. Excuse me, it’s time of his evening dose right now. He had no idea there was a quarter grain of phenobarb hidden in his eagerly anticipated peanut butter snack.

    Now, had I been an anti-canine pharmaceutical purist, I could have either put the poor fellow back out in the street or been changing hundreds of pee soaked bed sheets and mattress protectors for the last six years.

    My choice to medicate resulted in very happy, healthy, active-as-ever, dog who loves his owner and vice versa.

    Now, Pinto is a Jack Russell / Chihuahua mix. I adopted him abut eight months ago form the same dog pound. He was six months old at the time. I adopted him primarily as a companion for C.J. while I was off to the CCGA campus in Brunswick, 45 miles north of my home in St. Marys , GA, sometimes all day long, not returning until after 10:00 PM.

    Pinto had been voluntarily surrendered by his original owner. I soon learned why. Pinto had severe separation anxiety.

    Here is a partial list of what he destroyed in my absence from home.

    A $1,000 memory foam mattress.

    Five sets of sheets at abut $60.00 per set.

    A $75.00 pair of slippers.

    A $55.00, leather dress belt i had worn once.

    Countless ball point pens.

    Now, I had long been aware of the use of Prozac for the treatment of separation anxiety, depression, and OCD in dogs.

    When I asked my vet for it for Pinto, he prescribed some bogus “homeopathic” remedy which is essentially the equivalent of a warm glass of milk in pill form at bedtime for $60.00 per month.
    A the end of a month and several sets of sheets later, I informed him that it did not work and that I still wanted Prozac. His answer was that I should buy another $60.00 bottle of do-nothing warm milk pills and augment it with a $75.00 bottle of some other bogus homeopathic snake oil. I declined and he is no longer my vet.

    I then set out to find a vet who would proscribe Prozac. I set an appointment with one whose receptionist led me to believe that would not be a problem. However, when Pinto and I showed up for the appointment, I was greeted by their certified, in house, animal behavior therapist. I took Pinto.

    When I called the office of the lady who is my new vet, I made it very clear that to her receptionist my dog did not need psychotherapy, primal bark therapy, EST, yoga, transcendental meditation or a damned thing other than Prozac. She laughed and assured me that I could get a prescription.

    Pinto now gets a 20 mg capsule of Prozac in his peanut butter snack every morning.He is every bit as active and playful as ever but he has not destroyed a thing since about three weeks into the Prozac when he reached a therapeutic blood level.

    So, once again, a dog who had been turned over for possible euthanasia by his original owner because of his un-medicated destructiveness is living happily ever after with an owner who can well afford to keep him for $34.00 per month worth of Prozac versus thousands of dollars worth of destruction had he not been medicated.

    Given that both C.J. and Pinto might well have had very miserable existences or been euthanized had it not been for pharmaceutical interventions, I rest my case.

  32. Kelly Strozier says:

    This entire concept is new to me. Although nothing really surprises me, never in a million years would I have thought of pets popping pills. I am a first-time pet owner, by force. My daughter found an abandoned pup, brought it home and left for college shortly thereafter.
    I’ve witnessed the affects that psychotropic meds can have on a human being so why for pets.
    After reading this article, all the horrors came racing through my mind. With prescription drug use on the rise, addicted pet owners will start using their furry friend’s prescriptions or sell them for profit and not treat the pet. I was blown away by this article but found it to be a very interesting read.

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