Antidepressants for Dogs: Canines Inadvertently Subjected to Myth
By: Beth McHugh 2009
Regular readers of my articles will know that I have strong views on the use of antidepressants. These drugs are marvelous lifesavers for extremely depressed people but were never intended to be used long-term. That is, until the pharmaceutical companies started the myth that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The idea that depression is caused by an imbalance in the brain’s chemistry is unproven. It is merely a theory. And yet it continues to be spoken about as it if were a given.
The Republic of Ireland has now banned pharmaceutical companies from claiming in their drug facts sheets that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance yet, such is the power of these multibillion dollar companies that the myth continues. We can only hope that other governments follow suit.
And this myth continues right down the hierarchy to include the local vet. A friend recently revealed to me that their dog had been put on antidepressants. I asked the reason for this seemingly drastic decision. I was horrified at the answer.
The dog, a small terrier, was very good at digging his way out under the fence line and was continually getting out. After all, digging is what terriers naturally do. So this is not uncommon behavior for dogs of many different breeds, and with everyone in the household out all day, the dog was clearly bored.
The vet’s solution was antidepressants. Mind you, the dog was having a great time each time it got out and displayed no sign of unhappiness whatsoever. After a week of being slapped onto doggy antidepressants, the animal no longer got out. It merely slept most of the day, grogged out on its new tablet regime. The owners were happy – they no longer had to go pay fines to get their wandering canine back. Problem solved.
It’s so sad that this animal is being subjected to the beliefs of misguided animal specialists who falsely believe this dog was depressed. There are many alternate, healthy ways to keep a bored dog happy but it so much easier to give it a pill. And it shows a dangerous trend that is spreading from humans to helpless animals that have absolutely no say in what goes into their mouths. See Amy’s Pets Blog for sensible ways to keep dogs occupied.
But back to the antidepressants. It seems in this case, at least, as long as the owners are no longer bothered all is well.