Canine aggression directed towards people is the most frequent reason for referral to behaviour practices. The serotonergic system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis are believed to play an important role in controlling aggression. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine is the most commonly used drug in canine aggression. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of a 30-day-long fluoxetine treatment on the peripheral serotonergic system and the HPA axis in canine aggression. To this end, the concentrations of serum serotonin (5-HT) and plasma cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were analysed in a group of aggressive (n = 22) and nonaggressive dogs (n = 9) during pre- (day 0) and posttreatment (day 30) conditions. Treatment caused a significant decrease in 5-HT concentrations (46% in the aggressive group and 32% in the control group). There was a trend towards a rise of DHEA/cortisol ratio values after treatment both in the aggressive and the control group. The determination of blood 5-HT and the DHEA/cortisol ratio could have important clinical applications in the future for deciding which animals might benefit from a given treatment as well as for monitoring the response. Further large-scale studies with this aim should be carried out to obtain sound conclusions.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.