Pets act different on drugs. Anyone whose dog ever discovered pot brownies can corroborate this one. But antidepressants are increasingly being marketed to pets, because a drug company whose blockbuster drug just went generic can get a whole new patent when they make Prozac chewable and meat-flavored, and somehow this is raising the age-old question: just how human are our pets? It it a matter of, "they stop attacking the kids when we feed them SSRIs, therefore they 'are'?"
Anyway, so, as someone whose family dog used to be on some form of doggy Xanax and whose ex-boyfriend's ex-cat used to take a variety of pills for schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, I can tell you, I have occasionally wondered, whether all their playing sweet and dumb crap wasn't simply a Canis familiarus-wide conspiracy to leech off the upright race's superior work ethic and tireless capacity for scooping up feces. (Fun fact: American pet spending has risen 30% or eleven and a half billion dollars over the course of the past five years, a period of time during which the average American household income did not increase at all.)(!!) But…
The underlying controversy of the story seems to be, do pets only know basic fear/joy/pain type feelings, or do they have actual consciousness? Because dogs can be compulsive and anxious and schizo and crap. But, you know, until I hear a little more evidence there is some epic existential barking tradition being endangered by the nation's shock collars, I am going to venture that the whole thing is just one more case of humans overintellectualizing their bad tendencies, when it's really pretty clear a lot of the crap we do is primal and doglike and basically dumb, which probably explains why we so dote on and empathize with the lesser species, and the only solace is that consciousness allows us to recognize that, and also, why we keep sleeping with assholes.
Pill-Popping Pets [NY Times]
Related: How Prozac Sent The Science Of Depression In The Wrong Direction [Boston Globe]