Barking mad

Risks of giving Prozac to dogs

source: Andrea Lord
New Scientist January 26 2002

Dogs and other pets are sometimes given Prozac or similar drugs to deal with repetitive behaviour, or stereotypies, but this may be inappropriate and could lead dogs to develop symptoms similar to those of Parkinson's disease. Prozac is a drug used to boost serotonin, and this and similar drugs, appears to help people who show flexible repetitive behaviour, but Prozac doesn't help with behaviour where the same action is endlessly repeated. An example of flexible, or variable, repetitive behaviour is grooming different parts of the body. Vets often can't tell the difference between the two sorts of behaviour, researchers argue, and too much Prozac can have side effects. This is because Prozac inhibits movement of all kinds, and too much of it makes people sluggish, as though they have Parkinson's disease, a condition which involves too low a level of dopamine being produced by the brain.