Vol. 5 No. 2 (2019)
Review Articles

Management of specific fears and anxiety in the behavioural medicine of companion animals: punctual use of psychoactive medications

Published 2019-12-18


  • anxiety,
  • psychopharmacology,
  • acepromazine,
  • dog,
  • cat.


A growing body of research has recently focused on the use of psychoactive medication for the short-term management of specific fear and anxiety in pet cats and dogs, i.e. triggered by well-identified and predictable stimuli. Such medications are used short-term and administered as needed to prevent the symptoms of fear and anxiety associated with specific situations. Noticeably, in the last few years two medications have been approved in the US and Europe for the treatment of noise fear in dogs. Furthermore, literature from the past decades provides evidence of the anxiolytic effect following the administration of several other medications used in various situations such as travelling and veterinary examinations. This review provides a summary of the most appropriate medications for punctual use in case of specific fear and anxiety in cats and dogs. The authors recommend the use of psychoactive medications providing a clear anxiolytic effect, especially in association with environmental management and humane behavioural procedures, such systematic desensitisation and counterconditioning. Combination treatment with non-psychoactive medications is also discussed.