Serotonin Syndrome in Dogs | Petlebi

Dog Health

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter produced by the body. Serotonin has many different effects on the body. It has effects on mood, sleep, body temperature, pain perception, gastrointestinal function, blood vessels, and even blood coagulation. Serotonin syndrome in dogs is caused by the extreme effects of serotonin. As a result of overstimulation of serotonin receptors, mental changes called serotonin syndrome, neuromuscular abnormalities and changes in body function occur.

brown dog with open medicine box

What Causes Serotonin Syndrome in Dogs?

Serotonin syndrome occurs as a result of taking excessive amounts of serotonergic drugs that release serotonin. There are many serotonergic drugs used by humans or dogs. Serotonergic drugs are available for dogs, such as anti-anxiety tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, serotonin-releasing agents, and serotonin precursors.

Serotonin syndrome in dogs is usually caused by excessive ingestion of their own medication or their owner’s medication. The effects of the drugs increase as the owners of dogs using serotonergic drugs digest their serotonergic drugs. Rarely, dogs can use two different serotonergic drugs at the same time. This usually occurs when the veterinarian recommends another drug without knowing that the dog is using a serotonergic drug. For this reason, when your dog uses medication for any reason, you should tell the veterinarian you go to. This is more common in dogs who go to more than one veterinarian.

dog examined by veterinarian

Symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome in Dogs

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome vary depending on the drug the dog is taking and the amount of the drug. The effect of excessive serotonin in the gastrointestinal system manifests itself as diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dogs affected by serotonin experience increased heart rhythm and muscle spasms or rigidity. Serotonin syndrome also causes symptoms such as restlessness, panting, or moving at an excited pace. In addition, mental symptoms such as disorientation or head reciprocity may also occur. Dogs taking drugs containing excessive amounts of serotonin may experience seizures.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may appear approximately one hour after taking serotonergic drugs. If the intake is continuous, it may take several days for the cumulative effects of serotonin syndrome to appear.

dog lying sluggish on sofa

How is Serotonin Syndrome Diagnosed?

Serotonin syndrome is usually diagnosed based on clinical signs and the use of serotonergic drugs. Physical examination is required to determine whether there is a neuromuscular abnormality.

In cases of serotonin syndrome, in which it is not known whether a drug consumption is related or not, blood or urinalysis may be required. It may take a few days for the results of these tests to come out. In this process, veterinarians may generally prefer to start hypothetical treatment.

dog lying under blanket

How Is Serotonin Syndrome Treated?

Serotonin syndrome treatment largely depends on the dog’s symptoms. In dogs with mild symptoms, reducing or completely discontinuing the intake of serotonergic drugs can provide a gradual disappearance of the symptoms. However, reducing the dose of the drug taken or completely stopping the intake should be done with the recommendation of the veterinarian. Because the sudden discontinuation of the serotonergic drug can cause great harm to the dog.

Gastrointestinal decontamination is performed if symptoms are severe. In this way, the serotonergic drug that has not yet been digested in the dog’s digestive system is expelled. Activated charcoal is used to make the dog vomit in gastrointestinal decontamination. After decontamination, dogs are taken under observation. Anti-nausea, anti-diarrhea, muscle relaxants or anti-seizure medications can be used.

dog running on grass

Recovery Period After Treatment

The recovery period similarly varies according to the amount of ingested serotonergic drug and the symptoms observed in the dog. How quickly it is intervened and the general health of the dog are also important in terms of recovery time. Dogs with moderate symptoms recover quickly after treatment. This period usually varies between 36 – 48 hours. In cases where the situation is more serious, the recovery period may be longer.

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