Eli Lilly and Co., which built its reputation on insulin and the antidepressant Prozac, launched its first prescription medicine for pets on Friday.

The company will market Reconcile, a beef-flavoured chewable tablet that helps treat dogs for separation anxiety, in the United States.

The medicine is supposed to be used in combination with behaviour management training to help dogs that have difficulty being separated from their owners or family members.

"It basically calms the dog and makes it more receptive to the training that's supposed to go along with it," said Steve Connell, a Lilly veterinarian.

10 million dogs suffer from separation anxiety

Lilly estimates that more than 10 million dogs suffer from some form of separation anxiety. Some may whine or bark while others chew up or destroy things when left alone.

"A lot of people who have this problem with their pets will come home to a trashed house," Lilly spokesman Joan Todd said.

Dogs are pack animals, and they sometimes develop a deep attachment to humans, who essentially become part of their pack, Connell said. That makes them anxious when the humans leave.

Todd declined to discuss revenue projections or pricing for the drug. She said the cost will vary widely based on dosage and what veterinarians charge.

Reconcile, which uses the same compound as the human antidepressant Prozac, has one competitor on the market. Novartis AG makes Clomicalm. Lilly also operates Elanco Animal Health, a subsidiary that develops products for cattle and swine.