Dr. Michael W. Fox

Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort

Vegetarianism: A Bioethical Imperative
Dr. Fox on the Tonight Show
In Memoriam_Feral Cat Mark Twain
DVD Links
Releasing Cats To Live Outdoors
Outdoor Cats, Wildlife And Human Health
Cat and Dog Nutrition--the Thiamine Issue
Cat Food Recipe
Cat Tail Deemed To Be Good Vaccination Spot
Cat Behavior
Cat Vaccination Protocols
Declawing Cats
Feline Stomatitis Complex
Cat Litter Box Issues
Introducing A New Cat
Introducing A Dog Into Cat's Home
Choosing To Live With A Dog
Dog Vaccination Protocols
Dog Mutilations
Dog Food Recipe
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Dog Food and Feeding Issues
Dr. Fox's Good Medicine Juice
The Truth About Manfactured Dog and Cat Food
Companion Animals Harmed By Pesticides
Dominance-based Dog Training
Dr. Fox and the Super Dog Project
Guide to Congenital & Heritable Disorders in Dogs
Dogwise E-Books
Concerning Outdoor Chaining/Tethering Of Dogs
Dogs In Shelters
Dr. Fox's Good Dog Cookie Recipe
Don't Clone Your Dog Or Cat!
The Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog
Recovering Canine Health And The Natural Dog
Animal Vaccination Concerns
Care For Dogs and Cats With Renal Failure
Urinary Tract Stones
Green Pet Care
Puppy and Kitten Breeding Mills
Pure Water for Cats and Dogs--and All
Dental Problems In Companion Animals
Chemical-related Human Diseases In Companion Animals
From Mineral Oil & Multiple Sclerosis to Plastics, Nanoparticles
Companion Animal Care
Companion Animals and Flea and Tick Treatments
Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort
Preventing Fleas
Domestication and Diet
Lyme Disease and Wildlife Management
Disease and Animal Rights
GMOs and Pet Food
Journal of AVMA and GMOs
Indoor and Outdoor Poison Hazards for Pets
Carrageenan In Pet Foods
Cats, Dogs and Cadmium
Fluoride In Pet Food - A Serious Health Risk?
Best Manufactured Pet Foods
Pet Food Letters
Nutrigenomics and the Pet Food Revolution
The Ethics of Krill Oil and Protein Supplements
Animal-Insensitivity Syndrome
Wolves and Human Well-being
Wolf-Dog Hybrids
Crying Wolf Too Much
Betrayal of Wolves and Public Trust
The 'One Medicine'
Pet Health Insurance
The Veterinary Profession
  Pharmaceutical Cruelty In Animal Farms: Consumer Beware
Pig Parts For People
Conflicts Of Interest In The Veterinary Profession
Bioethics: Its Scope And Purpose
The Bioethics And Politics Of Manufactured Pet Foods
Animal Rights, Human Rights And Wrongs
The Future of the Veterinary Profession
Holistic Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary Ethics and Economics
Veterinary Bioethics and Animal Welfare
Principles Of Veterinary Bioethics
What Price Our Animal Relationships?
Changing Diets for Health's and Earth's Sake
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Reseach Needs Ethical Boundaries
Wildlife Management Practices
How Animals Suffer Around the World
Feeling for Animals and Animal Liberation
Animal Altruism and Abilty To Empathize
What Makes Animals Happy?
The Empathosphere: Animal Prescience, And Remote Sensing
Mental Effects on Physical Health: The Mind-Body Connection
Animal Spirits
Light Of Compassion
Religion, Science and Animal Rights
Animal Suffering And The God Question
Healing Animals & The Vision of One Health
Islam And Animals
Panentheism: The Spirituality Of Compassion
One Earth, One Health
Why We All Must Care For Animals and the Environment
Quality Of Life In Animals
Healing Agriculture's Broken Connections
Mammon Vs. Civil Society
Justice For All Beings And The End Of Terrorism
Universal Bill Of Rights For Animals And Nature
Science Writers' and Reporters' Political Agendas
Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness
Michael W. Fox Resume'
Dr. Fox Biographical Interview
Interview: History of Animal Welfare Science
Curriculum Vitae
Books By Dr. Fox
Dr. Fox Lectures, Seminars and Workshops
My Life For The Animals
To Kiss Salamanders and Stones

               Behavioral Problems and Drug Solutions: A Last Resort

                                                       By Dr. Michael W. Fox

            A variety of psychotropic drugs have proven to be beneficial for treating people with various emotional and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Veterinarians are discovering that these drugs can help in treating similar problems in dogs. These clinical findings support my contention that the inner world of dogs, their consciousness and emotionality, must be similar in many ways to ours, otherwise these psychotropic drugs would not result in similar clinical improvement in dogs as in human patients.


            Veterinarians are well advised to use behavioral-modification techniques like reward training, desensitization, changing the dog’s environment, and evaluating the dog-human relationships in the home before prescribing these kinds of drugs. Some have potentially harmful side effects. Then there is the ethical issue of giving drugs to dogs to help them cope with a way of life -- like being left alone (often in a crate) for many hours during the work week, to which no animal should be subject. Turning a dog into a chemically-dependent zombie is ethically untenable.


            The benefits of these mind (brain-chemistry) and behavior-altering drugs to dogs are being documented in the veterinary literature. Before the advent of these new drugs, many dogs would suffer years of distress (and their owners too), or be euthanized.


            Fluoxetine (Dista’s Prozac) has helped many dogs suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorders, including compulsive licking, pacing, tail-chasing, and self-mutilation.


            Selegiline (Pfizer’s Anipryl) is now being prescribed for old dogs suffering from the “old dog’s disease” of disorientation and anxiety called cognitive dysfunction syndrome. 


            Amitriptylene (Zeneca’s Elevil) is one of several medications that can help dogs showing dominance aggression, coupled with underlying anxiety.


            Buspirone (Bristol-Myers Squibb’s BuSpar) and Clomipramine (Novartis’ Clomicalm) have proven beneficial to dogs suffering from fear-related aggression.


            One of the most common emotional disorders to afflict dogs today is separation anxiety. If behavior-modification techniques, and providing another dog as a companion or an open crate as a safe “den” do not work, the treatment with any of the above drugs, including Eli Lilly’s Reconcile ( that is the same as Prozac but is beef-flavored), or with Imipramine (Novartis’ Tofranil) or Alprazolam (Pharmacia and Upjohns’ Xanax) can provide significant relief, emotionally or symptomatically, for the dog, which will help the distraught owners feel better as well.


            I find it ethically questionable to drug a dog who is suffering from boredom and loneliness and becomes a house-wrecker. Wherever possible, dogs’ basic needs should be met and their environments changed for their benefit rather than changing their brain chemistry to help them cope with and adapt to a relatively deprived existence. Is it more ethical to selectively breed them to better adapt to such conditions? Or would they then become “virtual dogs,” dispirited facsimiles of the once real, that our children may never know, respect and cherish, with no remnant of the wild that we recognized in their original presence?


            Many behavioral and emotional problems in dogs have a complex genesis, including the animal’s genetic background and basic temperament, the dog’s rearing history and experiences earlier in life, and current factors in the dog’s immediate environment and family relations, including other animals as well as people in the home.


            The judicious use of psychotropic drugs, with careful monitoring and individual dose-adjustments is appropriate, I believe, but only as a last resort for those conditions when behavioral counseling and modification procedures have failed. Often the dogs can be slowly weaned off these drugs and, in the process, they seem to learn to cope better with the conditions or stimuli that caused their behavioral disturbance in the first place.

The worst side-effect of some psychotropic drugs (other than dependence, liver damage and paradoxical reactions), which lead me to caution against over-prescribing, are disturbing consequences that may be hard to detect in the animal, but which humans report when on similar drugs. These may include disorientation, increased feelings of vulnerability, anxiety or depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and disturbed sleep patterns.


            Another often overlooked factor that can affect behavior is diet. Nutritionists are beginning to discover how dietary habits cannot only affect the immune system and other vital body functions, but also influence behavior, emotions, and cognitive (learning) abilities in humans. Recent work by a team of veterinarians at Tuft’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, Boston, has revealed that for dogs showing territorial aggression, their aggressive behavior was lowered when they were fed a low protein diet supplemented with tryptophan (10 mg/kg per meal, twice daily).  Dogs showing dominance aggression were less aggressive when fed low or high protein diets supplemented with tryptophan, compared to when they were fed a high protein diet without the extra tryptophan. These different diets had no appreciable effect on hyperactive dogs.


 While a dietary approach to treating some dog behavior problems is relatively new, the health benefits of good nutrition have been long recognized. Artificial coloring agents, preservatives and other ingredients like wheat and various glutens in many manufactured foods may affect brain and behavior, so a whole-food, biologically appropriate diet may be helpful.


Many veterinarians prescribe herbal and nutraceutical supplements for companion animals with behavioral and emotional problems including Valerian, Passion flower, Hops, Lavender, Kava Kava, Chamomile, and Melatonin.


The need for companionship for a dog alone at home all day should also be considered, another compatible dog, or a cat or two being the most natural remedy, and negating the need for pysychotropic drugs to help an animal cope with loneliness and a deprived, un-stimulating environment.


Check the link below for a Dr. Fox C-Span feature concerning "Animal Testing"

Dr. Michael W. Fox on C-Span

--Video Link--

Dr. Michael W. Fox

What right do we humans have to exploit other animals?  Where does that right come from and what are the limits if any?  What duties or obligations do we have in our relationships with our dogs, cats and other animals domesticated and wild?

          Follow and support Caroline Kraus and her Moments of Truth Project documentary film as she travels across the U.S. asking people, who variously live, work with and care for animals, these and other relevant questions.

Is there an overriding consensus and what are the reasons why people respond very differently to these questions, which in part examine our character, culture and future?

The viewing and discussion of this kind of documentary should be part of every school curriculum and will be of interest to all who work with, profit from and care for animals. Project Home Page: http://momentsoftruthproject.com/  To see the interview with Dr. Fox go to http://momentsoftruthproject.com/dr-michael-fox/