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Can anti-anxiety drug calm aggressive dogs?

February 7, 1997

When the family dog unexpectedly begins to snap at the kids or snarl at Mom and Dad, it may be that some type of behavior therapy is needed.Veterinary behaviorists at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are now looking to the drug "clomipramine," an anti-anxiety medication used in human psychiatry, as a possible therapy for dogs demonstrating unusually aggressive behavior toward family members."Aggressive behavior is the most common reason that dog owners consult a veterinary behaviorist," says Dr. Benjamin Hart, a professor of veterinary medicine and nationally recognized authority on animal behavior. "We are studying clomipramine, which is one of the so-called 'serotonin-enhancing' drugs, because it has shown promise in reducing aggressive behavior."Hart and colleague Dr. Jacqueline Neilson are conducting a study of clomipramine's effectiveness in treating canine aggression toward family members. Dogs demonstrating this type of aggression are needed to participate in the study, the first of its kind in the nation. Half of the participating dogs will receive clomipramine, while the others will be given a placebo.Dog owners interested in participating in the trial should call (916) 754-9927. There will be no charge for participation.


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