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Don't Give Prozac to Mopey Pooch


Question: My dog seems depressed to me. Instead of being energetic and playful as usual, he lies in his doghouse and looks bored. When we go on a walk, he doesn't seem interested in exploring as he used to.

I myself take Prozac, and it has made a world of difference. Could I give some to my dog to see if it will help?

Answer: Please check with your vet. A pet that changes behavior might have a health problem that should be addressed. Depression in dogs requires professional diagnosis by an expert in animal behavior.

Prozac has been tested and found effective in treating dogs with compulsive behaviors, such as chewing and licking. If your pet is truly depressed, there may be some other tactics your vet can recommend before resorting to an antidepressant. You should never share your medicines with anyone in your family, including your pet.

Q: Your column on thyroid hormone caught my attention because I have been taking a low dose of Synthroid since having most of my thyroid surgically removed last summer.

The biggest problem since the surgery has caused my husband a great deal of anguish. I have absolutely no sex drive. It never was great, but it has completely vanished. I am too embarrassed to talk to my male gynecologist about it. Is there anything that can be done?

My other troubles may not be related. I had not had a period for five years but have had several since the surgery. Also, although I have been on a low-fat diet, I can't lose weight.

I probably sound like a hopeless case, but I hope you can help me with these problems. Would you please send your guide on thyroid hormone?

A: Check with the doctor who is supervising your thyroid treatment. If you have too little thyroid hormone in your system, your libido could suffer. It could also make losing weight more difficult.

An excess of thyroid hormone such as you experienced before surgery can make menstrual periods lighter, shorter or even nonexistent. Inadequate thyroid hormone leads to longer, heavier menstrual periods.

To feel your best, you need to have the dose of Synthroid adjusted carefully. This requires periodic blood tests to see how your body is responding.

We are sending you a brochure that describes many symptoms of both overactive and underactive thyroid and tells how to interpret the tests.

Q: In a recent column you mentioned that Prilosec can reduce the absorption of vitamin B-12. I immediately called my pharmacist about this because four different doctors who have prescribed this stomach medicine for me have never said anything about vitamin B-12.

The pharmacist had never heard anything about this. So far as I know, the maker of the drug has not published any warning either. So I'd be grateful if you would give me more information.

A: Suppressing stomach acid interferes with vitamin B-12 absorption (Marcuard, Annals of Internal Medicine 1994; 120:211-215).

Dr. Mark Ruscin at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center recently studied elderly patients on acid-suppressing drugs such as Prilosec or Zantac. Those taking these drugs for a year or longer are at increased risk for vitamin B-12 deficiency. Symptoms may include tingling or numbness of hands or feet, burning tongue, anemia and confusion.

* Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Send questions to them at People's Pharmacy, c/o King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017, or e-mail

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