Side Effects of Anxiety Medications in Dogs

Serotonin is a chemical produced by the body that enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with one another. Too little serotonin in the brain is thought to play a role in depression. Too much, however, can lead to excessive nerve cell activity, causing a potentially deadly collection of symptoms known as serotonin syndrome or serotonin reuptake syndrome.

Dogs suffering from compulsive behaviors, separation anxiety, chronic pain and other conditions may benefit from medications that affect the level of serotonin (neurotransmitter) in the body. Serotonin regulates behavior, awareness of pain, appetite, movement, body temperature and function of heart and lungs.

Serotonin syndrome (SS) occurs when level of serotonin increases in the body due to intake of more than one type of medication containing serotonin. SS is a potentially life threatening condition and if not treated in time, it may lead to death of the animal.

Common symptoms associated with serotonin syndrome are

Altered mental state (confusion, depression, or hyperactivity)

Difficulty walking

Trembling and seizures



Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)

Increased body temperature (hyperthermia)

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