Psychotropic drugs have been used extra-label for treatment of feline psychogenic alopecia and canine acral lick dermatitis, syndromes characterized by excessive self-licking (also see Normal Social Behavior and Behavioral Problems of Domestic Animals: Compulsive Behaviors and see Normal Social Behavior and Behavioral Problems of Domestic Animals: Feline Compulsive Disorders). Classes of drugs used include antidepressants, antipsychotics, opiate antagonists, anxiolytics, and mood stabilizers (see Systemic Pharmacotherapeutics of the Integumentary System: Psychotropic Drugs Used for Skin Disorders).
Sedation is the most common side effect of diazepam. It is also an appetite stimulant in cats. Idiosyncratic fatal hepatic necrosis has been reported in several cats treated for as little as 8–14 days. Tricyclic antidepressants are potent H1 blockers in addition to inhibiting uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. These drugs can induce cardiac arrhythmias and lower the seizure threshold. Other side effects include dry mouth, hypersalivation, vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, ataxia, disorientation, depression, and anorexia. Tricyclic antidepressants should not be used concurrently with monoamine oxidase inhibitors, including amitraz dips for demodicosis. Dosages should be tapered slowly when discontinued.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Michael Shipstone, BVSc, FACVSc, DACVD