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What Are the Uses of Clomipramine for Dogs?

Teaching a dog some basic commands may help the animal alleviate anxiety.
Clomipramine may help calm a dog who barks excessively.
Exercise, like long walks, helps reduce stress and anxiety in dogs.
A veterinarian may prescribe clomipramine to treat a dog's anxiety issues.
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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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Clomipramine for dogs is commonly used to treat separation anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and other canine anxiety disorders. Canine separation anxiety can cause the dog to display destructive behavior, bark incessantly and howl. Veterinarians frequently prescribe clomipramine for dogs when other methods of treatment fail. These other methods include behavior modification training and exercising the dog to relieve excess anxiety.

When clomipramine for dogs is prescribed for anxiety, it is said to elevate their moods. This medication is classified as a tricyclic antidepressant, which is thought to work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is referred to as a feel-good chemical, and dogs, as well as humans who have low serotonin levels may be predisposed to depression and anxiety.

Although clomipramine for dogs remains an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, important side effects can occur. These side effects can include pronounced sedation, vomiting, and loss of appetite. In addition, although uncommon, elevations in liver enzymes can occur as well. Many veterinarians prescribe clomipramine for dogs as a stand-alone treatment, however, many recommend that it be used in conjunction with behavior modification sessions.

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For separation anxiety, experts recommend that leaving and arriving home be kept as low-key as possible to keep the dog's stress levels at a minimum. In addition, doing things like jiggling the car keys and putting on a coat should be done even when staying home, so that the dog doesn't associate those actions with its owner leaving. Occupying the dog with toys might also help divert its mind when the owner leaves. These interventions can enhance the effects of clomipramine for dogs who suffer from anxiety disorders.

The benefits of clomipramine are not immediately noticed. It can take up to a few weeks of treatment with antidepressants before the effects are noticed, unlike the rapid onset of relief seen with the administration of anti-anxiety medications. In the meantime, owners should make sure that the dog gets enough exercise. Plenty of exercise not only helps reduce stress and anxiousness, it also helps keep the dog fit.

In the event that the dog is unable to tolerate clomipramine or when anxiety is severe, the veterinarian may recommend other medications known as anxiolytics. These medications work very quickly to relieve symptoms and can calm the dog in minutes, rather than days or weeks. Antidepressant medications such as clomipramine can even make anxiety worse is some cases, however, this effect is unusual.

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