Certain medications can help control excessive dog barking, particularly if it’s associated with anxiety or compulsive behavior. Drugs like Clomicalm or Reconcile, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are often prescribed. However, medication should be a last resort and used in conjunction with behavioral modification therapies, as it doesn’t address the root cause of the issue.
Are Medications to Control Barking Humane?
Using medication to control excessive dog barking can be humane when it’s done under the guidance of a vet and when the barking is due to anxiety or other mental health issues that cause distress to the dog. However, combining medication with behavioral modification is essential to address the underlying causes. Inappropriately medicating a dog without a valid medical reason can be considered inhumane.
Common Medications Use to Control Excessive Barking
This is a tricyclic antidepressant used in dogs to treat separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and phobias, including excessive barking related to these conditions. It works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which helps improve mood and reduces anxiety.
Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac)
This selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) is often used for managing separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and certain aggression-related issues in dogs. It increases serotonin levels in the brain, helping to reduce anxiety and associated behaviors, including excessive barking.
A benzodiazepine commonly used for its sedative, anxiety-reducing, and muscle relaxant properties. It is effective for acute anxiety episodes or panic disorders, which can manifest as excessive barking. Diazepam can also be used as an appetite stimulant and anti-convulsant in dogs.
Another benzodiazepine, Alprazolam, is used for its calming effect, especially in situations that can cause fear or anxiety in dogs, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises. By reducing anxiety, it can help control associated excessive barking.
Non-Medicine Alternatives to Treat Stress-Related Barking in Dogs
Behavior Modification: This is often the first line of treatment. Training techniques such as desensitization and counter-conditioning can help dogs learn to cope with stressful situations.
Environmental Changes: Changing a dog’s environment, such as reducing exposure to triggers or providing a safe space, can help reduce anxiety and associated barking.
Nutritional Supplements: Certain supplements like L-Theanine and pheromone products can promote relaxation and reduce dog anxiety.
Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP): Synthetic pheromones that mimic those produced by a mother dog to calm her puppies can also reduce anxiety and stress in adult dogs.
Physical Exercise: Regular and sufficient physical activity can reduce anxiety and improve a dog’s overall behavior, including excessive barking.
Mental Stimulation: Providing plenty of mental stimulation, such as puzzles, new toys, and training exercises, can help keep a dog’s mind occupied and reduce anxiety.
Alternative Therapies: Acupuncture, massage, and other alternative therapies may also help reduce anxiety in some dogs.
Safety Precautions for Using Medicines
Always Consult a Veterinarian: Medications should only be administered under the guidance of a vet to ensure correct dosage and use.
Monitor for Side Effects: Keep a close watch on your pet for any signs of adverse reactions or side effects and report these to your vet immediately.
Follow Prescription Instructions: Always use the medication exactly as the veterinarian prescribes, and don’t increase dosage or frequency without consulting them.
Never Use Human Medication: Many human medications can be dangerous for dogs. Always use medication specifically formulated for dogs.
Regular Check-Ups: Regular vet check-ups are important while your pet is on medication to monitor its effect and adjust the dosage if necessary.
Don’t Stop Medication Suddenly: Some medications require gradual cessation. Always consult with your vet before stopping any prescribed medication.
Keep Medication Out of Reach: Ensure medications are stored safely out of reach of pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion.
No Self-Diagnosis: Don’t diagnose your pet’s condition yourself. If your pet has health problems, always seek the advice of a vet.
Regularly Update Medical History: Ensure your vet has an up-to-date medical history of your pet, including any other medications they might be on, as this can affect the prescription.
Common Reasons a Dog Goes in Stress
- Separation Anxiety
- Fear of loud noises (like thunderstorms or fireworks)
- Changes in the household (moving, the arrival of a new baby, new pets)
- Loneliness or boredom
- Lack of exercise or mental stimulation
- Past trauma or abuse
- Sickness or pain
- Aging and related cognitive decline
- Fear of specific objects or situations (phobias)
- Unpredictable or chaotic environment
- Lack of socialization
- Inconsistent or harsh training methods
- Travel or trips to the vet or groomer
- Loss of a human family member or another pet