Your question: Can I give my dog buspirone for anxiety?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.

We all know that humans experience anxiety. To some extent anxiety is a necessary emotion as it allows us to cope with potentially threatening situations. However, anxiety also represents a problem, specifically when it becomes too intense and recurrent.

It is worth noting that humans are not the only ones who can feel anxiety. If you are reading this you are probably feeling a concern regarding your dog’s anxiety and questioning how you can deal with it. Studies have shown that dogs are also capable of feeling anxiety, especially separation anxiety when they are separated from their owners (1).

Just as there are strategies for humans to help decrease anxious symptoms, there are also strategies for dogs. Psychiatric medication is helping millions of people worldwide to cope with their emotional problems.

Dogs can also take psychiatric medications to help them control their behavior. Among these is Buspirone, an anxiolytic mainly used in humans to regulate emotions and decrease brain activity during episodes of anxiety.

Buspirone can help your dog with his anxiety problems, however, you can only give it to him if you have previously taken him to a veterinarian. A medical evaluation is necessary before prescribing Buspirone, as it can have side effects.

I understand your concern. Dogs are like part of the family and any problem that happens to them affects us emotionally. You can help your dog control his anxiety by learning why this happens and how it manifests itself.

Likewise, I will show you how Buspirone can have positive effects for your dog, however, a veterinarian is the one who must consider that it is the right medication for your dog, since there are other anxiolytic medications that could also help.

How does anxiety manifest itself in dogs?

Anxiety, in humans as well as in dogs and any other animal, causes a lack of control in behavior. You can notice that your dog has anxiety if there are significant changes in his behavior, which can appear in a general way or in specific situations, for example, every time you leave the house. 

There are multiple causes for this problem, the most common being separation anxiety. Your dog develops an inevitable attachment bond to you as his owner, as he sees you as his protective figure. Therefore, it is common for dogs to manifest anxiety when their owner leaves home, especially when they are dogs that have recently arrived home.

Other causes of your dog’s anxiety can be traumatic experiences. This is often seen in adopted dogs that were abused by previous owners or during their time as strays. These abusive experiences can cause your dog to act aggressively without anything triggering it.

Symptoms of canine anxiety include:

  • Aggression.
  • Constant and noisy barking without cause.
  • Destructive behavior.
  • Decayed mood.
  • Repetitive behaviors without cause (e.g., pacing back and forth, carrying a toy back and forth).
  • Drooling.
  • Tremors.
  • Recurrent squealing or crying.
  • Avoidance of physical contact.

How do you know if buspirone can help your dog?

I would like to emphasize that you can only give Buspirone to your dog if you have seen a veterinarian for authorization. This is necessary because not all dogs need medication for their anxiety problems, and there are several types of anti-anxiety medications that have their own indications.

Buspirone for dogs is given in doses ranging from 5 milligrams to 30 milligrams, depending on the breed and size of your dog, as well as the intensity of their anxiety, and is usually given 2 or 3 times a day in the form of pills that you can have them swallow or dissolve in their food.

In both humans and dogs Buspirone can cause side effects. In dogs you may notice that they feel more energetic during the day, lose their appetite, experience nausea and vomiting, sleep more often and are more aggressive than normal. 

These side effects are relatively common in the first two months of medication. If they persist or if your dog’s behavior becomes excessively severe, it is necessary to see your veterinarian. They can always try another medication or employ different strategies to reduce their anxiety.

What other things can you do to relieve your dog’s anxiety?

There are different strategies you can apply to relieve your dog’s anxiety. It is also important to keep in mind that dogs are smarter than we think, and are capable of soaking up the stresses of the house they live in. Therefore, if a situation of conflict or anxiety is occurring in you or in your home, it is likely that your dog is feeling this tension and that aggravates his anxiety.

Physical Activity

Dogs need to be physically active. This allows them to both exercise their bodies and explore new spaces. Recurring outings with your dog can help him drain the energy caused by anxious episodes.


Massaging your dog’s muscles when he is in rest periods is helpful in relieving muscle tension caused by anxiety.

Keep a routine

Dogs feel anxious when they don’t have a steady routine of things to do during the day. Therefore, it is helpful if you keep a routine for your dog, with set times for eating, going for walks, playing and sleeping.

Gradually work on separation

It is crucial that your dog associates separation with you as a period of security and satisfaction, in which it should not feel afraid that something bad will happen to it, since it is only temporary. For this, you can ask family, friends or a caregiver to feed your dog something it likes while you are away, or to take it for a walk in a nice place. This will give your dog, in addition to a distraction, the association that being temporarily separated from you can be a period of tranquility.

In my experience…

Anxiety is an extremely common problem in dogs. Therefore, it is important that you know the possible causes of your dog’s anxiety in order to know how to act correctly. Buspirone could certainly help, but it can only be given under the guidance of a professional. 

It is normal to feel concern for your pet, but through the help of a veterinarian and an ethologist, as well as taking care of your dog through the above mentioned strategies, his problem will gradually improve.

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