8 On Your Side: Is it safe to medicate pets with Xanax, Valium, or other human drugs?

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For some pets, the loud noises from fireworks or thunder must sound like their world is under attack.

Normally happy dogs will dig, scratch, chew or just shiver and shake when thunder hits or people celebrate with pyrotechnics.

“We treat a lot of pets with anxiety,” said Dr. Hansel Leavengood at the Dale Mabry Animal Hospital in South Tampa.

Leavengood often prescribes medication for dogs with anxiety problems.

“Dogs will do anything from going to find a quiet corner, they get in the bathtub, to sitting under your leg shivering, to just pacing,” said Leavengood.

Many of the medications he can prescribe for the problem are also used to treat human problems.

“Whether it be Alprazolam, which is a benzodiazepine, Valium, a fourth generation Valium-type drug, to serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, there is a lot of medication out there that came over from the human side,” said Leavengood.

Some of the medications do have side effects, but Leavengood believes the right medication can be found for dogs with severe problems.

Some dog owners have found relief with “Thundershirts.” The clothing wraps tightly around the dog’s torso to give them a feeling of security.

RELATED: 8 ways to calm a dog without using medication

Dog owner Chris Krautheim purchased one for his dogs, but found limited success.

“It’s supposed to keep her safe. Make her feel like she’s in her mother’s arms,” said Krautheim.

Other dog owners swear they work, although Leavengood says he is not aware of scientific evidence to back that up.

“If it works, then don’t ask why,” said Leavengood.

There are some herbal remedies available online, but Leavengood is skeptical of some.

“I’m not going to knock alternative medicines, if they can be proven that they work,” said Leavengood.

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