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Fluvoxamine (Luvox®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Behavioral disorders in dogs and cats are common causes for veterinary visits. Behavioral problems are also a frequent reason for euthanasia of pets, especially when unacceptable or dangerous animal behavior is involved.
  • Recently, veterinarians have begun placing increasing emphasis on training and behavior modification, and animal behavior specialists have begun adopting drugs used in modifying human behavior for animal use. Fluvoxamine is one of these drugs.
  • Fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) with an action almost identical to fluoxetine (Prozac), though structurally it is quite different.
  • This drug increases serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that facilitates transmission of "messages" among brain cells.
  • Fluvoxamine is an antidepressant that is used to treat depression in people.
  • Fluvoxamine is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Luvox® (Solvay Pharmaceuticals)
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Fluvoxamine

  • Fluvoxamine is used for behavior modification of dogs and cats.
  • In dogs, fluvoxamine may be useful in the treatment of aggression, fearful behaviors (e.g. storm phobia/noise phobias), anxiety-based behaviors (e.g. separation anxiety), and compulsive disorders (e.g. ALD/lick granuloma and compulsive tail chasing).
  • In cats, fluvoxamine may be useful for the treatment of aggression, excessive fearfulness, urine marking, and compulsive behaviors (e.g. psychogenic alopecia, tail chasing, and wool sucking/pica).

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, fluvoxamine may cause side effects in some animals.
  • Fluvoxamine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Fluvoxamine should be used with caution in pets with liver disease, kidney disease, or a history of seizures.
  • Fluvoxamine may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with fluvoxamine. Such drugs include drugs classified as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as L- deprenyl (Anipryl®), carbamazepine, propranolol, and theophylline.
  • Side effects associated with fluvoxamine include inappetance, lethargy, and vomiting. Weight loss is associated with inappetance. Gastrointestinal upset may also occur.
  • When large quantities of fluvoxamine are ingested, pets may seizure. Overdose should be promptly treated by your veterinarian.

    How Fluvoxamine Is Supplied

  • Fluvoxamine is available as 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • There is no established "usual dose" in either dogs or cats. Fluvoxamine is about 2½ times less potent than fluoxetine, so, by extrapolation, dogs should probably be dosed at around 1.25 to 2.5 mg per pound (2.5 to 5.0 mg/kg) once daily.
  • In cats, the dosage is in the order of 0.5 to 2.0 mg per pound (1.0 to 4.0 mg/kg) once daily.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet appears to feel better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent premature relapse.
  • Pets must receive fluvoxamine for 6 to 8 weeks before it can be determined that the medication is ineffective. Aggression might respond rapidly, in as little as a day or two. Urine marking in cats should respond within 2 weeks. Improvement in fear-based behaviors may take 4 to 8 weeks. Compulsive behaviors improve only gradually. Initial improvements may be seen in 3 to 4 weeks, but maximum improvement may not occur for up to 4 months.

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