My Dog Ate Lexapro: Vet Time? (Solved & Explained!)

So your furry friend has gotten into your medication or accidentally consumed some that fell on the floor.

Is Lexapro harmful to dogs? The short answer is yes, when a dog has consumed a standard human dosage of anti-depressants, this can be harmful to dogs. The risk of toxicity increases based on your dog’s size and how many milligrams of medication was consumed. 

Read below to learn the steps you should take if you find out that your dog has accidentally consumed Lexapro.  

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro is an anti-depressant medication that many veterinarians prescribe to dogs for easing symptoms of anxiety. The amount of Lexapro that is best for your dog is based on their specific anxiety levels, as well as their size and weight. The exact dose and treatment schedule must be determined by a licensed and experienced Veterinarian. 

Warning Signs That Your Dog has Consumed Medication

There are a number of warning signs to look out for if you know or assume your dog may have gotten into or consumed some of your medication. The most important thing is not to panic. PETA estimates that around 66% of all calls to the Pet Poison Helpline have to do with animals accidentally consuming human medication.   

It can take anywhere from 30-minutes to 4 hours for signs of anti-depressant poisoning to appear in your pet. This waiting period could be even longer if the pills are made with an extended-release formula. Some typical signs to look out for are:

  • Agitation and Restlessness
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Seizures and Tremors
  • Increased or decreased heart-rate
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty Breathing and/or Walking
  • Loss of Consciousness

What Should You Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Lexapro?

 If you notice your dog experiencing any of the above symptoms, you will need to get them to an emergency vet right away, as medication-based overdoses in dogs are often fatal without immediate treatment and care.

Be prepared with as exact information as you can about the medication that the dog has consumed. This includes the name of the medication, how much your dog has consumed, and how long ago the dog ate the medication.

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Do not induce vomiting yourself – this could be harmful to the dog. Vomiting may be induced after the administration of charcoal which helps to absorb any medication which could cause injury to your dog. The dog should be kept under constant observation to make sure symptoms do not worsen. Your vet may even administer an IV to keep the dog hydrated.

How Long Will It Take my Dog to Recover?

When dealt with right away, most animals will recover within 12-24 hours with adequate and professional medical care. Your vet may request to keep the dog longer if they feel further observation is required. 

Lexapro Effects in Humans Over Dogs

Both dogs and humans can benefit from psychotropic medications. Humans and dogs alike will need a medical professional to prescribe the correct dose to maximize the effects of the drug while also avoiding any hazardous overdose risk. 

The Merck Veterinary Manual mentions that pet anxiety is very common, and can be caused by a number of factors. These factors can include anxiety around separation from their owner, fear-related anxiety (such as loud or sudden noises), or age-related anxiety where issues with their cognitive systems could cause them confusion, inevitably resulting in fear. 

When dosed correctly, Lexapro and other types of psychotropic medications can alleviate common symptoms of canine anxiety. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Destructive behaviour around the house
  • Urinating in the house
  • Pacing, Panting and Drooling
  • Excessive Barking

How Many Dogs Are Medicated for Anxiety?

In a 2017 national market survey, 10% of US dog owners mentioned giving their pets medication to help with their anxiety. With about 45 million homes having at least one dog listed, this means there are many dogs throughout the nation who are being treated for their anxiety with medication.

Natural Anxiety Relief Options For Your Dog

It is recommended that psychotropic medications are only used for dogs with severe anxiety. If you find your dog is exhibiting more milder symptoms of anxiety, natural methods are always preferred.

You can buy Pheremone-infused collars, as well as diffusers for a natural remedy to anxiety. These hormones mimic the scent of mother dogs calming their young. You can also invest in compression products, such as a thunder vest, to offer comfort to a dog (think the equivalent of a weighted blanket for human anxiety).

Of course, creating an environment where your dog feels safe is very important as it will help to avoid triggering moments for your pet. Removing as many stressors as possible will help your dog avoid the unpleasant symptoms of anxiety. Positive reinforcement and behavioural training are also critical for your dog, regardless of medication or not,

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In regards to natural supplements, your veterinarian may suggest the following to further assist:

  • L-theanine
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Magnolia extracts
  • Alpha-casozepine
  • Thiamine
  • CBD Oil

Drug Storage Safety Tips

Accidents happen, but there are a number of things you can do to prevent your furry pal from accessing and consuming fatal doses of medication. 

Consider storing medications high enough so that pets cannot reach them, and in a cupboard or drawer in which they cannot open. Also, keep pill bottles tightly closed when not in use. Always handle medication in a controlled environment, such as on the counter or above the sink, so that if any pills fall, they will not fall on the floor where your dog could find them. 

In summary, psychotropic medications offer a lot of help to animals and humans alike suffering from anxiety and depression, but as with any medication, the proper dosage could be the difference between treating and managing symptoms of anxiety and depression and living a happy, functional life, and a fatal overdose.

Knowing how to spot the effects of a drug overdose and early treatment is critical in ensuring the life and health of your pup.