Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why I Use Medication for My Reactive Dogs (Instead of Supplements)

Over the years, I have been very open about the fact that I use medication for my reactive dogs. I also made the decision to keep Maisy on her SSRI long-term; she's been on paroxetine for over four years now. I have taken my fair share of criticism over the years about these decisions. I'm sure part of this is the fact that the most popular articles on my blog are about supplements for reactive dogs; writing about something "natural" and then turning to "the evils of Western medicine" is hard for people to understand.

So why did I do it? Simply put, I put my money - to say nothing of my dog's health - where the evidence is. On the whole, medication works, is safe, and is well-regulated.

The troubling truth is that the claims on supplement labels often lack scientific support. That is why I wrote the series on supplements for reactive dogs; I wanted to know what (if anything) the science had to say about their use. It was interesting to learn about which supplements had some evidence for their use.

But even the best science is worthless if the ingredient isn't actually in that pill you're giving your dog, and a recent investigation done by the New York State Attorney General's Office found that about 80% of the supplements they tested did not contain ANY of the product in question. Further, some of those products had potential allergens that were not disclosed on the label.

Contrast this to the procedure followed for FDA approval and regulation for medication in the United States. The system may not be perfect, but it is far more rigorous than what current exists for supplements, with far more monitoring in place.

Of course, I'm not a vet, I'm not a scientist, and I don't know what's best for your dog. I have heard from many folks who have had great success with supplements, just as I've heard from people who have struggled to find a med that works for their dog. There is no magic pill. But when it comes down to it, I've decided to hedge my bets. My money's on medication.


Ginger Willis said...

I understand totally to your using medication to help your reactive dogs. I have a dog that has no human enemies, and for the most part no canine enemies. BUT she tends to guard and that is where her problem lies. She is on generic Prozac and is all the better for it.

~Sr. A.I.~ said...

I am not dogmatically anti-medication. I believe they have their place in the long-term treatment of extreme cases, and as short-term crisis intervention. However, after nearly 10 years of researching the long-term effects of psychiatric medications, I am shocked at how doctors - and vets - prescribe these without fully informing patients about the risks of long-term usage.

The harm is so high, that in the UK the clinical psychologists have been calling for abandonment of the disease-model of diagnosis, to severely cut back on how often these medications are used.

When objective parties have looked into the overall effectiveness-vs-harm of these medications, as well as the lengths the pharmaceutical companies have gone to to hide their knowledge of the risks of these medications, they've been shocked into advocacy. Full disclosure to patients considering these treatments needs to occur for their to be proper consent.
( http://www.salon.com/2010/04/28/interview_whitaker_anatomy_of_an_epidemic/)


Sadly, recovery from various mental wellness challenges is MUCH higher in developing countries where they do not utilize medications long-term.

~Sr. A.I.~ said...

It is unfortunate that it is not widely known that these treatments "work" through disabling the brain, which over the long-term causes brain damage and atrophy.



Meta-analysis of studies into antidepressants have actually found them less effective than placebos.


More and more doctors are having to acknowledge that the line that has been sold to them and the public about these medications correcting imbalances in the brain, is a false premise.


Also all psychiatric medications are dependacy forming, and improper discontinuation can cause painful withdrawals, and even with appropriate discontinuation many users will unfortunately suffer from protracted withdrawal - meaning that the symptoms and harm caused from withdrawal will last for many years, if not indefinitely.


Humans that are on these classes of medications long-term die on average 25 years sooner than their non-medicated counterparts, due to metabolic diseases and brain atrophy side-effects.




A quote from one doctor about the long-term usage of meds pretty much sums it up:
""All classes of psychiatric drugs can cause brain damage and lasting mental dysfunction when used for months or years. Furthermore, all classes of psychiatric drugs cause serious and dangerous withdrawal reactions.Meanwhile, there is no substantial or convincing evidence that any psychiatric drug is useful longer-term. Psychiatric drug treatment for months or years lacks scientific basis."


I could go on...but I feel that this information is enough to get people started on their own researches so they can make a fully informed decision as to whether medications should be an option for them or not.

The only way I would EVER put my animal on this class of med, is if it was the very last option before euthanasia.

Crystal (Thompson) Barrera said...

Sr AI-

I have read most (but not all) of those links now. Some very interesting stuff in there. Some seems biased to me, but some is very thought-provoking, so I thank you for sharing.

I don't have the time or effort to look up tons of citations, so here are my thoughts on meds:

They can be great and even life-saving, but they are medications, so there will always be some risk. I think the risk is less with medications than with supplements- which was the point of this post. :)

Medications should not be used alone. Whether it's people or dogs, there are other treatments that are helpful. For dogs, meds should always be done in conjunction with behavior mod.

Medications shouldn't be used indiscriminately, but I don't think they should be a last resort either. For me, this is a quality of life issue. My dog may have a shorter life on meds, but I've decided that's okay because her life is so much BETTER. This is, of course, a very personal decision.

Thanks again for your comment!

Sammi said...

I am a vet and took my reactive dog to a vet behaviorist for second opinion. She recommended Paroxitine (Paxil). I used it for 6 months and didn't particularly care for the hallucinations he sporadically got from it. With behavior modification, he got better. I also noticed he was becoming heat intolerant. Whereas previously he was fine in hot weather, after a few months with Paxil he couldn't work outside past 75 degrees. After some research, buried in the literature were human cases of transient and permanent damage to the "internal thermostat" caused by Paxil. Several lawsuits involving deaths of people on Paxil who got overheated outside were cited. I agree with A.I. above. Even the behaviorist was not aware of this potentially fatal side effect because I think the drug companies want to bury this information as just an "outlier case". Maybe just a freak deviation but no consolation when it's your family member or pet who dies.