Eventually, dogs and their owners will take the same drugs...
November 14, 2011 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible that my dog is taking four times as much Xanax as me?

My jittery Golden Retriever mix has a prescription for generic Xanax for occasional bouts of high anxiety.

As of today, so do I! Anyway, we both have our own prescriptions for Alazopram, but here's the thing: Doggy's pill bottle says "1 mg tablets."

My bottle says "0.25 mg tablets." Can this be right? Does it metabolize differently in dogs? Do one of us have an incorrect label? Or am I really doping him up something fierce when I give him one of these?
posted by Buffaload to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
I don't know about Xanax in particular, but dogs to significantly higher dosages of Prozac and thyroid supplementation than people do.
posted by faethverity at 10:21 PM on November 14, 2011

Coincidentally, of the three people I know with Xanax prescriptions, one (ahem) has a prescription for .5 mg for plane-related anxiety, another has a prescription for .25mg for general anxiety, and one person has a 1mg prescription for panic attacks. So it seems entirely possible to me that your dog gets four times as much alprazolam as you do, and that this is not an inhumane dose, either. :)
posted by artemisia at 10:29 PM on November 14, 2011

Dogs metabolize Xanax far differently than humans. When we were discussing putting one of our dogs on it, we were told (by a vet friend) that the dosage for dogs is .01 - .05mg...per pound of body weight.

So we were talking about starting my twelve-pound terrier on .25mg, but it could've been double that and still been normal dosing. Goldens average around sixty pounds, right? So anything from .5mg to 3mg could be considered normal.

Also, just as a data point, I've also got the .25mg pills, but have been told that it's ok to take up to 1mg for a panic attack. Additionally, Xanax comes in 2mg pills. So even for people, this does isn't unusual or even especially high.

(Disclaimer: I am not a vet, this is not veterinary advice, etc. It's just what I was told.)
posted by MeghanC at 10:45 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

They might require more to do the intended job. Animals don't have much of an ability to rationalize a situation and self soothe like most people do. People can get the sharp edges of the anxiety knocked off and be able to do the rest on their own. But a dog that is only 75% freaked out is still going to to be freaked out.

They also don't NEED to be able to function. A person on Xanax probably still needs to remember how to talk and drive and not to drool. A dog has the luxury to not have to worry about those things, so the vet can dose them up.

(I was at a family party where the family dog was on some kind of happy pill like that. He still seemed a little freaked out, but really, really didn't care and just kept to himself.)

That's my guess, as well as the metabolism thing. It's the same (but opposite) as how you aren't supposed to give cats aspirin. It isn't poison to them, they just metabolize it way slower. Their dosage is lower, and you give it like once every three days. (NOT VETERINARY ADVICE!)
posted by gjc at 5:17 AM on November 15, 2011

They also don't NEED to be able to function. A person on Xanax probably still needs to remember how to talk and drive and not to drool. A dog has the luxury to not have to worry about those things, so the vet can dose them up.

I think this probably has quite a bit to do with it. Even allowing for metabolic differences, these kind of psychoactive drugs all have side effects. In humans, these side effects can be highly undesirable. A human who takes a pill for their mood is usually looking for exactly one effect, at the exclusion of most others, and can and will be vocal about undesirable side effects. Trading generalized anxiety for crippling fatigue isn't something most people will deal with.

A dog, on the other hand, won't give a damn. These drugs are really about controlling dogs' behavior, as we can't actually tell all that much about what they're actually feeling, because they can't talk. So a dog that's actively freaking out is a problem, but if a dog that's blitzed on Xanax and thus no longer freaked out also happens to have fatigue, dizziness, ataxia, and hallucinations, well, those aren't really problems for anybody. Probably including the dog in most cases. It's not like he's got any particular place to be.
posted by valkyryn at 6:08 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

*Envious of dogs that get to lay about all day whacked out on Xanax and dreaming of bones, romping in the yard, etc.
posted by eggman at 7:11 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yep dogs have a way different metabolism for a ton of drugs than humans. We metabolize many drugs better than dogs: ibuprofen take three, dogs it will kill you, Xanax take two, dogs take four, thyroid meds take one, dogs take 10 (this is not real dosing information just aproximate). This causes weird problems when pet owners want to buy their meds at a regular pharmacy. Many a pharmacist has triple checked my rx for levothyroxine because they just can't believe it.
posted by boobjob at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2011

Xanax comes in .25, .5, 1, 2 (for humans). So 1mg is not really 4x a normal human dose.
posted by User7 at 7:20 PM on November 15, 2011

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