Can anxiety meds help with dog aggression?

Medication is an often-underutilized tool that can greatly help with managing aggression in dogs, according to veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall.

You may be considering giving your dog medication if she is fearful or aggressive. However, you might also be doubting whether it actually works, whether she will need to take it forever, and whether you can actually train your dog to say something like, “I like having guests over.” I observed a poor dog go through a dramatic medication change without any discernible advantages. The dog was actually taking so many medications that it found it difficult to train him because his energy level was so low.

There are numerous opposing viewpoints on this matter, and it is impossible to cover them all in a single article. However, we will discuss some of the important queries addressed by a veterinarian and a dog trainer. Just keep in mind that the best thing you can do for your particular dog is to seek professional assistance (from both a veterinarian and a dog trainer), ask lots of questions, and ensure they are cooperating to do what’s best for your dog.

Some Examples and Warning Signs of Aggressive Behavior in Dogs

As previously mentioned, there is a great deal of fear associated with the ominous behavior that aggressive dogs display. We mentioned the notion that the behavior is motivated by fear and aggression. Another extremely likely scenario is that your dog’s aggressive tendencies are more of an anxiety-related side effect than anything else.

It becomes a guessing game for pet owners to understand the cause of their dog’s aggression because dogs are unable to express it. But there are a lot of theories about what makes dogs aggressive, and you can use these theories to figure out what might be wrong with your furry friend.

Some veterinarians advise pet owners to examine the routine aspects of a dog’s life to look for any indications of the dog’s aggression. For instance, there are instances where dogs exhibit aggressive behavior because the food being served to them is not to their liking. This is particularly true for canines that display aggression by acting territorially toward their eating habits.

Can anxiety meds help with dog aggression?

When your dog acts out around mealtimes, especially when another dog is around, it’s very likely that the aggression is motivated by food. Perhaps your dog was raised in a situation where they had to fight for their food, which caused them to associate mealtimes with being overly aggressive.

This is indicative of food-related anxiety. Your dog might believe that they won’t get food if they aren’t aggressive in such circumstances. Or perhaps your pet is acting aggressively to fend off the other dog because they are afraid of the other dog stealing their food. This is simply an example of aggression in dogs.

Can the Medication Used to Treat Aggression Make it Worse?

Contact an animal behaviorist right away if your dog’s prescription medications are making their signs of aggression worse. Aggression, fear, and other behavioral issues can be concerning enough in their early stages.

It can be dangerous when dog aggression increases as a result of the wrong medication. Reach out to your dog’s veterinarians so they can decide the best course of action rather than attempting to handle things on your own.

Can anxiety meds help with dog aggression?

There is always a small chance that a dog will react negatively to the behavior medications that your dog’s veterinary medicine specialist prescribes due to the seemingly endless risk factors associated with all types of prescription medications. There may be better treatment options available simply because one treatment strategy didn’t work out in the long run.

While undesirable side effects are not uncommon, they are also not unheard of, the professionals treating your dog’s behavior issues can work on developing a behavior modification treatment plan that produces the desired side effects, so don’t lose hope. Medication for an aggressive dog is an ever-evolving industry.

Medication may have the exact opposite side effects from what the behaviorist is looking for, just like prescription drugs for people, but that only necessitates a behavior modification plan. Dog behavior issues can be unpredictable, but help is available!

Your dog’s canine behavior issues may not be sufficiently treated by medication, it’s possible. Sometimes, in addition to medication designed to reduce episodes of fear aggression, changing your dog’s behavior requires therapy. If not, a dog trainer may be the ideal addition to the equation if you have never worked with your dog’s companion.

Aggression would not be cured if aggressive dog behavior were the only thing you addressed. This is due to the fact that the signs of aggression are only that: signs. And like all symptoms, they stem from a root cause.

In order to stop dog aggression, you must identify its source. It all comes down to asking questions until you find the right answer, as we’ve discussed in some of the sections above. For instance, is your dog’s aggressive behavior primarily a situational response or is there a chemical imbalance in your dog?

These inquiries, along with numerous similar ones, may yield solutions that will guide you in the right direction. Curing these behaviors is not the same as treating the aggression’s underlying causes. If the underlying issue is not resolved, the behavior will recur in the future.

The Veterinarian

Dr. A veterinarian at Healthy PAWsibilities, Cathy Alinovi, DVM, collaborates with a trainer on challenging dog behavior cases.


What medication can be given to dogs for aggression?

Dog aggression is frequently treated with anti-anxiety drugs like Anafranil, Clomicalm, and Buspirone. Buspirone is typically the drug of choice for dogs with less severe cases of anxiety.

Can medication make my dog less aggressive?

Dr. Dodman: Drugs might make a dog less aggressive, but they can’t direct a dog’s behavior. Only an attentive owner can teach a dog new behaviors to replace aggressive ones with and how to function in the world differently. Furthermore, not every dog requires medication to curb their aggression.

Can anxiety make a dog aggressive?

The most prevalent type of canine aggression may be fear- or anxiety-related aggression. Early signs of fear-related aggression are frequently defensive, meant to signal “stay away” or to increase the distance from the perceived threat. However, aggression can learn to become more offensive.

How can I fix my aggressive dog aggression?

Under the supervision of a qualified professional, behavior modification is the most secure and efficient way to address an aggression issue. Rewarding a dog for good behavior is an important part of behavior modification, so you’ll probably have more success if your dog enjoys praise, treats, and toys.