Wednesday, January 06, 1999

New drug can help lonely, troubled dogs

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's a nightmare for dog lovers: They leave the house and their beloved pooch gets so upset it chews up the sofa and urinates on the rug.

        Separation anxiety afflicts thousands of dogs, and is one of the most common reasons dogs are euthanized. Now the government has approved the first anti depressant especially for dogs: Clomicalm.

        When used with canine therapy, it aims to help dogs like Stacey Schacter's dog, Jasper.

        The 9-year-old cairn terrier began chewing and urinating indoors, “but he would only do this when he wasn't with us,” said Mr. Schacter, who lives in West Chester and will have to find a new home for Jasper if training or Clomicalm don't work.

        Clomicalm, made by Novartis Animal Health, is a canine version of an existing human drug. Vets have used clomipramine for years to treat anxiety disorders but had little guidance on correct dosages.

        Dr. Jim Harvey, of Landen Veterinary Hospital in Deerfield Township, said when Clomicalm hits shelves later this winter, it will bring data on dosages and effectiveness, as well as a coating and size more digestible for dogs.

        Vets have also tried Prozac for dogs but found it expensive and not as effective as they'd hoped.

        Dr. Todd Phillips of Eastgate Animal Hospital and Clinic, who is also on Novartis' board of directors, has put about 15 dogs on clomipramine and found it about 95 percent effective.

        One of those dogs, Mandy, a Welsh terrier, has stopped “bouncing off the walls,” said owner Shirley Anderson of Amelia. “We were at our wits' end. We were ready to sell her, but ... everything is a way lot better.”

        The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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