When recommending these drugs, inform clients that the use is off- or extra-label.It may be advisable to have the owner sign a release form that lists the risks, limitations, and potential adverse effects of the drug being prescribed.In cases when sedation or an extra boost of anxiolysis would be helpful, shorter-acting drugs can be given on an as-needed (PRN) basis; examples are benzodiazepines (eg, alprazolam) or trazodone.Benzodiazepines are anxiolytic drugs and, used longer-term, can elicit anxiolysis without sedation.
However, it is important to keep in mind that any psychotropic drug may cause increased agitation or aggression.
At the doses typically used in veterinary behavioral medicine such reactions are rare, but the potential for them indicates monitoring the dog’s response.
Buspirone, a nonsedating anxiolytic, can be useful for generalized anxiety.
In these patients, the addition of behavioral drug therapy can significantly improve response to treatment.
When underlying anxiety is reduced, the dog is more receptive to learning and its behavior can change more reliably in the long-term.
Side effects include polyphagia, aggression disinhibition, and paradoxical agitation and ataxia without adequate anxiolysis, and may be dose dependent.