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Overview of Fluoxetine for Canines and Felines
- Fluoxetine, commonly known as Prozac® or Reconcile®, is used in dogs and cats for behavior modifications, separation anxiety and aggression.
- Behavioral disorders in dogs and cats are common causes for veterinary visits. Behavioral problems are also a frequent reason for euthanasia of pets, especially when unacceptable or dangerous animal behavior is involved.
- Recently, veterinarians have begun placing increasing emphasis on training and behavior modification, and animal behavior specialists have adopted drugs used in modifying human behavior for animal use. Fluoxetine is one of these drugs.
- Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that is used to treat depression in people.
- This drug increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that facilitates transmission of “messages” among brain cells.
- Fluoxetine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
- This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
Brand Names and Other Names of Fluoxetine
- This drug is registered for use in humans only.
- Human formulations: Prozac® (Dista) and various generic equivalents
- Veterinary formulations: Reconcile® (Lilly) – chewable flavored tablet.
Uses of Fluoxetine for Dogs and Cats
- Fluoxetine is used for behavior modification of dogs and cats. Reconcile® is labeled for dogs with separation anxiety.
- Common uses for fluoxetine include treatment of aggression and obsessive-compulsive disorders in dogs and cats. Fluoxetine can also be used to treat itchiness that is unresponsive to more conventional therapies.
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, fluoxetine can cause side effects in some animals.
- Fluoxetine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. Fluoxetine is contraindicated in animals with a history of seizures.
- Fluoxetine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with fluoxetine. Such drugs include drugs classified as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (selegiline), diazepam, phenylbutazone, digoxin or buspirone.
- Side effects associated with fluoxetine include lethargy, panting, hyperactivity, shaking, restlessness, excessive vocalization, aggression and temporary lack of appetite. Gastrointestinal upset may also occur.
- When large quantities of fluoxetine are ingested, pets may seizure. Overdose should be promptly treated by your veterinarian.
How Fluoxetine Is Supplied
- Fluoxetine is available as 10 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg tablets or capsules.
- It is also available in a 20 mg/5 ml liquid form.
- Reconcile® is available as 8, 16, 32 and 64 mg chewable tablets.
Dosing Information of Fluoxetine for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- For dogs, the dose of fluoxetine is 0.5 to 1 mg per pound (1 to 2 mg/kg) given every 24 hours, orally.
- For cats, the dose is 2 to 5 mg per cat once daily.
- The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse or prevent the development of resistance. Pets must receive fluoxetine for 6 to 8 weeks before it can be determined that the medication is ineffective.