Dog adhd medicine

Methylphenidate (Ritalin®) for Dogs


Overview of Methylphenidate for Dogs

  • Methylphenidate, also known by the brand name Ritalin®, is used for the treatment of ADHD (hyperactivity) in dogs.
  • Behavioral disorders in dogs and cats are a frequent reason for veterinary visits. Unacceptable or dangerous animal behavior problems are also a common reason why owners request euthanasia of their pets.
  • Recently, veterinarians have placed greater emphasis on animal training and behavior modification, and specialists working in the field of animal behavior have increasingly adopted drugs used in human behavioral medicine for animal use. Methylphenidate is one of these drugs.
  • Methylphenidate, best known by its trade name, Ritalin®, is a stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • How methylphenidate works is not fully understood, but it appears to release norepinephrine in the brain, as amphetamines do.
  • Methylphenidate 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 of Methylphenidate

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Ritalin® (Novartis) and generic equivalents including Methylin®, Ritalin® LA, Ritalin® SR, Concerta®, Metadata CD®
  • Veterinary formulations: None
  • Uses of Methylphenidate for Dogs

  • In dogs, methylphenidate is used in the treatment of ADHD, aggression associated with ADHD, cataplexy, hyperactivity, and narcolepsy.
  • Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, methylphenidate may cause unacceptable side effects in some animals.
  • Because there is little information available on the use of this drug in animals, caution should be employed when using this drug.
  • Methylphenidate should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Methylphenidate should be used with caution in animals prone to heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure, or seizures.
  • Methylphenidate may increase blood pressure and should be used with caution in animals with a history of heart trouble.
  • Other side effects include anorexia, increased nervousness, and insomnia.
  • Methylphenidate may interact with some other medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with methylphenidate. Such drugs include anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
  • Methylphenidate should not be used within 2 weeks of terminating treatment with a MAO inhibitor, such as L-deprenyl.
  • How Methylphenidate is Supplied

  • Methylphenidate is available as a 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg oral tablets. Also available in 2.5 mg, 5 mg and 10 mg chewable tablets. 
  • Am extended release preparation of methylphenidate is available in the form of 10 mg, 18 mg, 20 mg, 27 mg, 36 mg and 54 mg tablets. Extended release capsule sizes include 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg, 50 mg and 60 mg. 
  • A oral solution is available in the concentrations of 5 mg/5ml and 10 mg/5ml. 
  • There is also a Methylphenidate transdermal patch available.
  • Dosing Information of Methylphenidate for Dogs

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • Methylphenidate is dosed at 0.125 to 0.25 mg per pound (0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg) orally twice or three times daily. The dose in dogs often works out to be about 5 to 10 mg per dog orally every 12 to 24 hours. 
  • 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.
  • <!–

    Behavior-Modifying Drugs



    Behavioral disorders


    0 paws up


    Dr. Nicholas Dodman

    July 16, 2015


    Popular Posts

    Pet Wellness and Health

    Common Misconceptions About Pet Mi ...

    Pet Wellness and Health

    Treatment Options for Arthritis in ...

    Just For Fun

    Spoil Your Senior Cat for National ...

    Previous / Next Article

    Drug Library

    Cyclosporine Ophthalmic (Optimmune®, Restasis®) for Dogs and Cats

    Previous Article

    Drug Library

    Osurnia Otic Suspension (Florfenicol, Terbinafine, Betamethasone) for Dogs

    Next Article

    Drug Library

    Cyclosporine Ophthalmic (Optimmune®, Restasis®) for Dogs and Cats

    Ways to treat your hyperactive dog – SheKnows

    Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

    If exercise, diet and training haven’t cured your hyperactive dog of his anxious and high-energy tendencies, it may be time to visit the vet. When all other alternatives have been exhausted, there are medications and treatments that can help your pooch. Just like humans, some pets need a little extra help when it comes to certain imbalances. Here’s what you need to know about common options to discuss with your veterinary professional.

    Related story Cat Owners Are Loving This Innovative Toy That Provides Hours of Exercise & Entertainment

    Medications for

    ADHD dogs

    If exercise, diet and training haven’t cured your hyperactive dog of his anxious and high-energy tendencies, it may be time to visit the vet. When all other alternatives have been exhausted, there are medications and treatments that can help your pooch. Just like humans, some pets need a little extra help when it comes to certain imbalances. Here’s what you need to know about common options to discuss with your veterinary professional.

    Comfort Zone

    This natural remedy works by taking pheromones that are emitted by animals through their skin and glands, and bottling the natural chemicals in the form of a spray or diffuser you can use in your home. Your pooch breathes in the pheromones in Comfort Zone, which attach to a receptive organ located in the dog’s nasal cavity. These pheromones, when inhaled, will give your pet a sense of security and comfort.

    Rescue Remedy

    Another natural option for pet emotional and behavioral problems, Rescue Remedy uses a blend of five flower extracts to help your pet cope with stressful situations. Each naturally grown flower in the remedy mix is meant to battle a specific stress-related emotional imbalance in your pet. Behaviors including but not limited to panic, irritation and lack of self-control can be alleviated by simply adding a few drops of this alcohol-free blend to your pet’s food, water or treat, as needed.

    Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

    Also used as a common treatment for attention deficit disorder in humans, Ritalin is commonly prescribed to help calm and de-stress hyperactive dogs. Ritalin works by correcting a neuron imbalance in a dog’s brain that is causing the hyperactivity or diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although Ritalin is not approved by the FDA for use with pets, veterinarians can legally prescribe this drug if your pet is diagnosed with ADHD.


    Similar to Ritalin, dextroamphetamine (D-amphetamine) may be prescribed as a lower-strength option for dogs with diagnosed ADHD. D-amphetamines work by stimulating the central nervous system to help curb obsessive behaviors. This type of drug tends have a slower effect on the symptoms than Ritalin does.

    St. John’s wort

    Known to help humans with depression and anxiety-related conditions, studies are now showing St. John’s wort may help pets who suffer from similar emotions that translate into hyperactive behavior. Although it is considered a natural supplement, St. John’s wort may be toxic to your pet if given in excess, so make sure you consult your vet.

    More on dog health

    7 Home remedies for your dog
    Is depression in dogs real?
    Create a natural medicine cabinet for your pet

    optional screen reader

    More Stories from Living

    Artificial intelligence to help a four-legged friend

    Scientists from St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University "LETI" proposed to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in dogs, as well as to treat this disorder with the help of artificial intelligence.

    02/26/2020 1494

    Employees of the Department of Automation and Control Processes of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical Institute, together with scientists from the University of Haifa (Israel), the University of Bristol (Great Britain) and the Tivolier Veterinary Clinic (France), have created an objective tool for assessing and diagnosing the problem of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in dogs . The disease, which is expressed in the impulsiveness, inattention or aggressiveness of the animal, endangers the quality of life of both the dog and its owner. ETU "LETI" called on artificial intelligence to help a faithful four-legged friend of a person - a unique self-developed computing tool that automatically analyzes the movement of a dog based on videos obtained during a behavioral consultation. Scientists told about their development in the journal Animals.

    Based on a computational analysis of videotaped consultations of 12 dogs treated medically for ADHD-like behaviors and a control group of 12 dogs with no complaints of behavioral problems, scientists determined three parameters of characteristic patterns in the movement of ADHD dogs. This is a high speed of movement, a large coverage of the room space and frequent reorientation in space.

    “We used software developed jointly with scientists from the University of Haifa to analyze video footage recorded in clinics and obtain movement data. The system takes raw video of a dog roaming freely around the room as input, and outputs the location of the dog in each frame. The system is based on a convolutional neural network that was trained on 6000 annotated dog frames. When working with frames where the dog is clearly visible, the system achieves a detection accuracy of 9eight%".

    Postgraduate student of the Department of APU SPbGETU "LETI" Alexander Sinitsa

    The identified patterns can become the basis for automatic analysis and objective assessment of dogs with ADHD-like behavior. The proposed approach will help in more accurate diagnosis and clinical treatment of the disorder.

    Today, there are no objective tools to assess and diagnose the problem, and specialists rely mainly on the signs described by the owners.

    “Computational behavioral analysis may offer new tools for more objective evaluation of behavior in clinical settings. This is a growing area, involving the use of modern computer science and engineering techniques to quantify animal behavior. In this paper, we use computational analysis in the context of the clinical assessment of ADHD-like behavior as part of an ongoing study to develop a decision support system for canine behavioral veterinarians.”

    Project Manager, Associate Professor of the Department of APU SPbGETU "LETI" Dmitry Ilyich Kaplun

    The algorithm created by the scientists of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University "LETI" will become a decision support system for practicing veterinarians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in dogs.

    The measurement system developed by LETI scientists can become the basis for creating new computer tools for zoologists and veterinarians to quantify the behavior of animals in various conditions. The project is in line with the implementation of the national project "Ecology" and corresponds to the priority of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation in the field of biodiversity conservation.

    • GazetaSPb online media: ETU "LETI" scientists together with artificial intelligence will help dogs
    • MIA MIR: ETU "LETI" scientists proposed using artificial intelligence to effectively monitor the health of animals
    • Online publication "Izvestiya. 78": In St. Petersburg, they want to treat nervous disorders of dogs with the help of artificial intelligence

    Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder with TES Therapy

    The use of transcranial electrical stimulation in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and comorbid disorders in children and adolescents


    1 Institute of the Human Brain RAS I.P. Pavlova RAS, St. Petersburg

    The effectiveness of treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents using transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) was studied. A course of TES was carried out in 102 patients, among whom 3 groups of patients were identified with a predominance of different components of ADHD - inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, as well as with a mixed type of disease.

    The results of the studies show that the method is more effective in the treatment of ADHD with a predominance of hyperactivity and impulsivity and mixed pathology, but less effective for the correction of attention. The method was also effective in the treatment of comorbid ADHD syndromes - tics, tension headaches, anxiety disorders. Follow-up data indicate that the effect is maintained in most patients for 6 months.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD - synonyms: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hyperactive disorder) is one of the most important problems in pediatric neurology. This pathology is a big social problem, because. this syndrome occurs in 5–17% of children in the general population [1, 2, 7].

    In the etiopathogenesis of ADHD, genetic factors play a role, as well as organic brain damage in the perinatal period, leading to the appearance of neuromorphological changes, affecting mainly the frontal cortex and basal ganglia of the brain (caudate nucleus, globus pallidus), more than the right hemisphere [ 8, 9, eleven].

    The most common ADHD comorbidities are tics and Gilles de la Tourette syndrome [7, 8]. In the treatment of ADHD, psychostimulants are most often used: amphetamines, methylphenidate and pemoline [6,8]. The use of psychostimulants allows to achieve high results in 60-70% of cases. However, when taking them, a number of side effects can be observed: insomnia, irritability, nightmares, headaches, tics [14].

    In our country, nootropic and vasoactive drugs are used to treat ADHD: cerebrolysin, instenon, etc. The effectiveness of their use reaches 60% [1, 2]. Recently, the method of transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) has found great application in clinical medicine. It was found that the opioid neurochemical mechanism is involved in the formation of the analgesic effect of TES - the release of the opioid peptide - beta-endorphin in the brain is enhanced [2]. In addition, serotonergic mechanisms play a role in the implementation of the therapeutic effect of TES.

    Experimental studies using the C-FOS marker showed that, under the influence of TES, the number of brain neurons (mainly the thalamus and hypothalamus), which are in a state of excessive excitation in stressed animals, significantly decreased [3]. The purpose of this study is to develop a method for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and comorbid disorders (primarily tics) using transcranial electrical stimulation.


    We observed 102 children (84 boys and 18 girls) aged 8 to 15 years with ADHD. Diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , as well as concomitant tic hyperkinesias, was carried out on the basis of DSM-IV criteria [10]. The severity of the disease was assessed using the SNAP-IV scale, which is a questionnaire for parents consisting of 43 questions to assess the degree of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity [15]. The average tic frequency was calculated using the five-point Tourette' Syndrome Global Scale (TSGS) [16].

    Diagnosis of cephalalgia was carried out in accordance with the classification of the International Society for the Study of Headache (IHS - 1988) [13]. The severity of cephalgia was assessed using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) [12]. Neurological examination was carried out according to the generally accepted scheme. The neurophysiological examination included an electroencephalographic examination performed using a computer 24-channel electroencephalograph Telepath-104. In addition, a psychophysiological study was carried out using the TOVA (Test of Variables of Attention) test, which is a test of continuous activity based on the presentation of significant and insignificant stimuli in the form of geometric figures to the subject in a random order and which allows assessing the state of attention in relation to normative data.

    TOVA evaluates 3 indicators: the degree of inattention (errors of missing significant stimuli), the level of impulsivity (errors in response to insignificant stimuli), response time. The level of anxiety in children was assessed using an anxiety questionnaire developed by S. M. Zelinsky and V. E. Kagan based on the Taylor and Sarason scales [5].

    TES sessions were carried out using the TRANSAIR-02 device (monopolar impulses) according to the standard method using paired electrodes with frontal and mastoid localization (pulse frequency - 77. 5 Hz, impulse duration - 3.5 ms, current strength - 1-2 mA) [2]. The main criteria for selecting an individual current level were the tolerance of procedures and the appearance of a positive clinical effect. In most cases, the magnitude of the stimulating current varied within 1.4-1.7 mA. The duration of the session was 20-30 minutes. The course of treatment consisted of an average of 10 sessions. The first session of TES was carried out with a duration of 5–7 minutes, with a current of 0.3–0.5 mA. During the treatment course of TES, patients did not receive any other therapy.


    In accordance with DSM-IV criteria, patients with various types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were selected from the study group: 13 children with a predominance of inattention (12.7%), 24 with a predominance of hyperactivity and impulsivity (23 .5%), 65 — with a mixed type of disease (63.8%).

    Tab. 1 reflects the indicators of the clinical condition of patients using the SNAP-IV scale. In patients from the study group, tics occurred in 47 cases (46.1%). Of these: transient tics were recorded in 14 cases (29.8%), chronic tics — in 27 cases (57.4%), Gilles de la Tourette syndrome — in 6 cases (12.8%). Tension headaches (THE) in patients from the observed group occurred in 38 cases (37.3%). At the same time, episodic TTH was recorded in 23 cases, and chronic TTH in 15 cases. In 88 children (86.3%) from the study group, neurological microsymptoms were observed in the form of discoordination of movements, moderate dyspraxia.

    Electroencephalographic examination revealed various deviations from the age norm in all patients: an increase in the power spectrum of theta oscillations in the frontal areas, a decrease in the representation of beta activity in the anterior cortex. These changes may indicate a decrease in the activating effects of the reticular formation, a violation of the zonal distribution of the components.

    According to the TOVA test, all patients in the main group showed a varying degree of increased inattention compared to the norm, in 76 cases (74. 5%) an increase in the level of impulsivity was found, in 43 patients (42.2%) the time reactions. The values ​​of various test indicators are presented in Table. 2.

    The average level of anxiety in the study group is 21.6 + 7 (with a range of standard indicators of 4-16). After a course of TES, clinical improvement occurred in 66 children, which is 64.7% of all treated patients. A significant improvement was obtained in 28 cases (27.5%), a slight improvement in 38 cases (37.2%). Positive dynamics was not observed in 36 patients (35.3%). In 4 cases (3.9%) against the background of the course of TES, the appearance of headaches is noted, immediately after the session. As a side effect, it was possible to note the appearance of drowsiness immediately after the session in 26 patients (25.5%).

    These manifestations resolved 3-4 hours after the procedure. It should be emphasized that improvement was noted in 22 patients with a predominance of hyperactivity and impulsivity (91. 7%) and 44 patients with a mixed type of disease (67.7%). At the same time, no positive dynamics was noted in patients with a predominance of inattention. Assessment of the state using the SNAP-IV scale shows a significant decrease in indicators of impulsivity and hyperactivity. There is no significant dynamics of attention indicators (Table 1).

    After a course of TES, a decrease in tics was noted in 40 patients from the study group (85%). A decrease in transient tics was recorded in all cases, chronic tics - in 21 cases (77.8%), tics with Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome in five cases. A decrease in the average frequency of tics by 2.7 points was recorded, which indicates a significant improvement (p < 0.01). The average frequency of tics according to the five-point Tourette' Syndrome Global Scale (TSGS) after the course of TCMP was 1.1 points (with a maximum frequency of 5 points).

    After a course of TES, there was a significant decrease in tension headaches in 33 patients from the observed group (86. 8%). At the same time, a decrease in episodic TTH was recorded in 20 cases (87%), and a decrease in chronic TTH in 13 cases (86.7%). When assessing headache using the Visual Analogue Scale, a decrease in the average pain intensity by 5.2 points is determined, which indicates a significant improvement (p < 0.01).

    A repeated psychophysiological study conducted using the TOVA test revealed statistically significant changes: a decrease in impulsivity by an average of 13.9% (p < 0.01). There were no significant changes in attention and response time. Thus, the results of a psychophysiological study confirm the clinical data on a decrease in impulsivity after a course of TES. A repeated psychological study shows a decrease in anxiety scores to an average of 12.2 ± 5 (p < 0.01).

    The results of an EEG study after a course of TES show positive dynamics in the form of an increase in the severity and normalization of the zonal distribution of the alpha rhythm. Similar changes were observed in 58 patients (56. 9%). In 20 cases (19.6%), the appearance of epochs of high-amplitude hypersynchronous low-frequency alpha activity was noted. After completing the course of TES, 66 patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were under observation for 12-24 months.

    Follow-up of these patients for 5-6 months showed that the obtained clinical results did not decrease in 74.2% of children. Follow-up studies show that the positive changes that appeared after the course of TES, in 36.4% of cases, persisted for 12 months. Under observation for more than 24 months were 22 patients with ADHD who underwent a course of TES. Follow-up studies showed that the positive changes that appeared after the course of TES persisted for 24 months in 18.2% of cases.


    Thus, the obtained results testify to the high efficiency of non-drug treatment with TES of children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with a predominance of hyperactivity and impulsivity, as well as with a mixed type of disease.

    The use of TES is ineffective in cases where inattention prevails. The method is also effective in the treatment of comorbid ADHD tics, tension headaches, and anxiety disorders.

    The most likely mechanism of the clinical changes obtained during TES procedures is the tranquilizing effect that occurs during the release of endogenous opiates.

    Follow-up data indicate that the effect is maintained in most patients for 6 months. In general, the obtained results allow us to recommend the use of TES in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder mixed type and especially ADHD with a predominance of hyperactivity and impulsivity, with comorbid disorders. Course treatment using TES should be carried out 2 times a year.


    1. Badalyan JI. O., Zavadenko N. N., Uspenskaya T. Yu. Attention deficit syndromes in children; (review). Review of psychiatry and honey. psychology them. V.M. Bekhterev. 1993, no. 3: 74-90.

    2. Zavadenko NN, Petrukhin AS et al. Treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children: evaluation of the effectiveness of various pharmacotherapy methods. Instenon: Clinical experience. SPb., 1999: 91-97.

    3. Lebedev VP Transcranial electrical stimulation: a new approach. In: Transcranial electrical stimulation. Experimental clinical studies. SPb., 1998:22-38.

    4. Lebedev VP, Kozlowski JP Transcranial electrical stimulation inhibits stress-induced expression of C-FOS in certain areas of the rat brain. In: Transcranial electrical stimulation: experimental and clinical studies. SPb., 1998: 163-182.

    5. Psychodiagnostic methods in pediatrics and child psychoneurology. SPb., Ed. LPMI 1991, 80 p.

    6. Wander P., Shader R. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Psychiatry. Ed. R. Shader. M., 1998:222-236.

    7. August G. J., Braswell L., Thuras P. Diagnostic stability of ADHD in a community sample of school-aged children screened for disruptive behavior.

    Learn more