Canis ISSN: 2398-2942
Therapeutics: behavior modifiers
Contributor(s): Kyle Braund, Lauren Trepanier
Drugs to modify behavior
- Antipsychotics → sedation, antimuscarinic effects, alpha-adrenergic blocking activity and extrapyramidal effects.
- Sedation can limit efficacy of behavioral modification programs (by limiting ability to learn).
- Acepromazine Acepromazine maleate.
- Anxiolytic; minimal side-effects; serotonin agonists.
- Buspirone hydrochloride* : for aggression, including fear related aggression but ineffective if exposed to intense stimuli; gradual onset of action.
- Anxiolytics, low risk of toxicity; but long-term use → dependency, withdrawal anxiety (withdraw gradually) and interference with memory and learning.
- Use mainly for short-term relief; very short half-life so needs frequent administration.
Risk of disinhibition → paradoxical increase in aggression.
- Clorazepate dipotassium*.
- Diazepam* Diazepam. Not useful for long term use in dogs: poor oral bioavailability, tolerance with time.
- Prevent re-uptake ( → inactivation) of noradrenaline and 5-hydroxytryptamine.
- Also have anxiolytic properties and useful in stereotypic conditions.
- Non-selective re-uptake inhibitors:
- Selective 5-HT uptake inhibitor:
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Not commonly used in veterinary practice - fatal toxic reactions with certain foods (due to inhibition of MAO-A present in gut, liver and sympathetic nerve endings).
- Selegiline Selegiline: does not have above toxic effect; for 'canine cognitive dysfunction'. MAO-A inhibitor (irreversible) - selective for certain neurones and glial cells.
Beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs
- To reduce anxiety and decrease the somatic symptoms of anxiety - tremors and palpitations; may be useful in aggression.
- Propranolol* Propranolol. Non-selective beta blocker.
- Stereotypic behavior, eg self-mutilation, tail-chasing, flank sucking and acral lick dermatitis.
- Concern about effect on other aspects of behavior.
- Naloxone hydrochloride* Naloxone : injectable only.
- Naltrexone hydrochloride*.
- For car travel and mild sedation to counter apprehension, ie using side-effects of the drugs.
- Chlorpheniramine maleate* Chlorphenamine.
- Diphenhydramine hydrochloride* Diphenhydramine.
- Anti-androgen therapy for aggression or where there is a sexual component to behavior - progestogens have anti-androgenic properties, and → non-specific CNS depression.
- Modern psychoactive drugs have largely superseded progestogens.
- Delmadinone acetate Delmadinone : chemical castration useful to predict effect of surgical castration on hypersexual behavior; but it also acts on limbic system, so surgical castration may not have same effect; may be disinhibition → increased aggression.
- Medroxyprogesterone acetate Medroxyprogesterone.
- Megestrol acetate Megestrol acetate.
- Stilboestrol* Diethylstilbestrol : for aggression after spaying, beware side-effects, eg bone marrow toxicity.
- *Indicates drug not licensed for this use in this species.
None of these are used in US for behavior.
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Other sources of information
- Plumb D C (1999) Veterinary Drug Handbook. 3rd edn. Iowa State University Press, Ames Iowa.