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.