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Doctors explain that putting pets on Prozac can be necessary

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Most pet owners would agree that they would do just about anything to make sure their pets are happy and healthy.

However, there is still one area that makes some pet owners a little uncomfortable.

Putting pets on meds for anxiety and even depression can spark mixed feelings.

FOX8 posed to the question to pet owners at a dog park in Greensboro.

Most expressed hesitation—explaining they would want a more natural approach first.

But doctors explain sometimes these drugs are necessary for everyone's protection.

“I wouldn't say that they are commonly used, but when they are used, they are very needed for those pets,” said Dr. Courtney Pierce, an associate veterinarian at Greensboro Veterinary Hospital.

Her dog, Spencer, has taken anti-anxiety medication for his thunder storm phobia.

Pets can get so anxious they become a threat to their own well-being.

“I've had a pet try to chew his way out of a metal crate. That can be really traumatic for the pet,” Pierce said.

Separation anxiety could call for drug intervention.

Medication may also be necessary when behavior such as biting becomes a threat to others.

“We oftentimes use things like Prozac just to lower their stress and to keep them from getting into a really bad situation,” she said.

David Mustain, a dog trainer with Central Carolina Canine, believes that some pets do require medical attention, but says some anxiety, similar to what’s experienced during a storm, can be reduced with a distraction.

“You could introduce a game of play with a ball or even a tug -- something to make the experience uplifting,” Mustain said.

“I want to be clear that we never use these drugs without behavior modification, so oftentimes these drugs are just helping us get to a place where these pets can be managed without the drugs,” Pierce added.

The use of antidepressants and antianxiety drugs is not uncommon for rescue animals that may have experienced trauma.

Veterinarians stress that you should never give a pet antianxiety medication that was prescribed for you -- even if it’s the same drug.

Cats and dogs take a very different dosage compared to what humans take.