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Old 10-15-2012, 07:42 AM
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Default anti-anxiety medications

At what point do you think a dog needs medication for anxiety? And who is qualified to make that decision? Can a vet do it himself or is a trainer/behaviorist of some sort necessary? What are the major side effects of most anti-anxiety meds?


I ask because I feel maybe Tucker would benefit from medication. Every time a dog walks by the house he flips out. If you stand up too fast he flips out, if you shout to someone in the other room he flips out (and flipping out usually involves barking and chasing one of my cats), if the cats try to play or get into a fight (if he even sees them glaring at each other or sees one wagging it's tail) he goes after them. On occasions when he's heard them playing (can hear their bodies thumping on the floor) but has been in the bathroom with me, he'll start crying, pacing the room, and eventually barking at the door to get out.
He has separation anxiety (though certainly not as severe as other dogs). On walks he now flips out when we walk by other dogs (if they are large or if it's small but I don't let him go say hi) and it's extremely hard to keep him under threshold. He goes nuts every single time the mail man comes. If he hears the UPS, Fedex, or mail truck go down our street, even if it's not stopping he bolts to the window, no matter what he was doing at the time. If he hears voices but can't find the source, like when he hears my parents talking upstairs, he flips out.

As you may know, he is stranger aggressive. If someone comes to the door he absolutely looses his mind. If you hold his collar he chokes himself to the point where he has a coughing fit. If the glass door is shut and someone is on the other side he slams himself into it. If he were big enough he'd probably go through. If a stranger were to reach for him he would bite them. But if people are over and we confine him he will bark and slam into the door for the entire time. I also would expect he may destroy something or poop while confined. It takes hours for him to warm up to a guest.

So my thought are maybe meds would make him less reactive, less on edge all of the time. I've worked with him on not barking out the window or not barking when he can hear voices but I honestly think he cannot help himself. I've tried working on self control stuff in training sessions but he always does perfectly fine.

How would I go about finding out if he would be a good candidate for medication?
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:47 AM
stardogs stardogs is offline
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Personally, I'd prefer that people seek out a vet behaviorist for medication help as they are the most up to date on the options available.

As a trainer, I dont have the medical background I feel is required to give specific recommendations on medication use, but I have told clients that I think they should consider it in conjunction with behavior modification.

Regular vets are really hit or miss unfortunately - I have some clients whose vets are awesome and totally up to date on behavior meds and some that are in the dark ages and prescribe Acepromazine or recommend Benedryl for behavior cases, some have gone so far as to tell my clients that they just don't love their dogs enough, they don't need medication. >.<
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:31 AM
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Actually I've been thinking about looking into the meds route with Bamm for almost few months now since I've heard how much it's helped out another Chaz dog to bring down the crazy reactive behavior just enough so that the training can be worked on. In Bamm's case there is not a treat that is high value enough to bring his attention back to you when he sees a reactivity source. Once he sees whatever he intends to react to it's all over. We have tried click to calm, LAT, etc and started with much smaller distractions and worked up to bigger distractions. Small distractions he is fine with but things he usually actually reacts to... It's like he gets into his own little zone and you can't reach him anymore to even work on the training side of things. He reacts to both dogs and some people.

My boss told me she had seen most dogs on meds end up much worse though which is interesting. So... I'm kind of on the fence as to whether I should talk to my vet about putting him on meds or not.

I'll be paying attention to this thread.
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:44 AM
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Boo has anxiety pills for visits to the vet and for times when fireworks are going off. They were prescribed by our regular vet. Honestly, I couldn't tell you if they really make a difference. She's still uncomfortable at the vet and with fireworks. Granted, she doesn't actually need them as a matter of safety- she just gets extra clingy during fireworks/thunderstorms and has to be dragged into the vet clinic. That said, we'll continue to use them periodically because they don't seem to have any negative effects on her.

Just my experience.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:27 PM
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My answers in blue
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxy24 View Post
At what point do you think a dog needs medication for anxiety?

For Frodo, it was something he should have had way WAY before I actually got my act together and took him to the vet behaviorist. What finally pushed us to it was that it was affecting his quality of life, our (Ryan and I's) quality of life, and honestly if he had stayed how he was we probably would have ended up getting more noise complaints and then potential euthanasia, because we don't have anywhere close to the 4 months worth of rent that it takes to break our lease, not to mention money for a house where his issues could have continued to be managed.

Seeing how he is now, versus how he was before meds, I can absolutely say that we waited longer than we should have, which was more a money issue than anything, unfortunately. I didn't realize just how impaired his quality of life was, until it wasn't anymore!


And who is qualified to make that decision? Can a vet do it himself or is a trainer/behaviorist of some sort necessary?
I will absolutely never regret spending the money to take him to a vet behaviorist rather than just asking for meds from my regular vet. With a vet behaviorist, it is their job. It is what they do for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They know what they are doing and have the knowledge to do it in a way that a regular vet would just never be able to. Plus with the vet behaviorist you are getting not just the meds, but a treatment plan, which is necessary. Most people who I've talked to with pets on behavior meds from the vet just give the meds and there is never a treatment plan involved, and I'm not a fan of that.

The support offered by the vet behaviorist is invaluable, and it is a long and involved process, where when you get meds from a vet I feel like most of the time they give medication and then the rest is up to you. With my vet behaviorist she wants emails or phone calls minimum every two weeks, and it was more at the beginning. Honestly when we left I expected to go home and give him meds and train and things would get better, but we had quite a rocky road while his system got used to the meds, and as awesome as my regular vet is, there is NO WAY she would have been able to offer the calibur of advice that Dr. D was, because again, this is what she does as a living. She has experiences on top of experiences with a side of experience sauce. Her days aren't spent having behavior cases some days and spays and neuters on others, this is all she does.

I think that if a vet behaviorist just flat out isn't an option, then working with a very experienced trainer and an experienced vet is something that should be looked into, but I think it is always going to be second rate to a good vet behaviorist. If it is a money issue though, a lot of vet behaviorists are able to take Care Credit, so that might be a payment option as well.


What are the major side effects of most anti-anxiety meds?
They're going to vary based on the medications that are prescribed, which is another reason I like the idea of a vet behaviorist better. They don't just have a favorite medication that they prescribe or get kick backs from or anything like that (or at least they shouldn't!! lol), they're going to prescribe based on what would be suitable for the dog, and my behaviorist said that a LOT of times the initial prescription isn't what works the best and things are often altered along the way. We went over all the options Frodo had, the pros and cons of each, and then we made a joint decision on what we wanted to try first. I don't remember even close to all the potential side effects of any of the drugs she was talking about now, but I do remember that starvation style hunger was one, she said she had a client that got on the table and ate a whole pot full of flowers, and that was a dog that had never counter surfed or eaten inappropriate non-edibles before. With Frodo, as his body got used to the meds and we were weaning him onto his doses, his reactivity toward people got quite a bit worse than normal, and I was talking to Dr. D on an almost daily basis about changing before it settled down again, but there were a lot of tears shed during that time, it was extremely frustrating, he was WORSE than pre medication, that wasn't supposed to happen!!

The medication can, in some instances and I believe it's increased with long term use(?) be hard on the organs, specifically the liver I believe. So we did a complete blood panel before starting medication, and will do one every 6 months for the rest of his life/while he is medicated (which I plan to be the rest of his life) to make sure that those issues are caught early if they do occur to deal with them. I think maybe Megan can elaborate on this, she is more smarter about these kinds of things



I ask because I feel maybe Tucker would benefit from medication. Every time a dog walks by the house he flips out. If you stand up too fast he flips out, if you shout to someone in the other room he flips out (and flipping out usually involves barking and chasing one of my cats), if the cats try to play or get into a fight (if he even sees them glaring at each other or sees one wagging it's tail) he goes after them. On occasions when he's heard them playing (can hear their bodies thumping on the floor) but has been in the bathroom with me, he'll start crying, pacing the room, and eventually barking at the door to get out.
He has separation anxiety (though certainly not as severe as other dogs). On walks he now flips out when we walk by other dogs (if they are large or if it's small but I don't let him go say hi) and it's extremely hard to keep him under threshold. He goes nuts every single time the mail man comes. If he hears the UPS, Fedex, or mail truck go down our street, even if it's not stopping he bolts to the window, no matter what he was doing at the time. If he hears voices but can't find the source, like when he hears my parents talking upstairs, he flips out.

As you may know, he is stranger aggressive. If someone comes to the door he absolutely looses his mind. If you hold his collar he chokes himself to the point where he has a coughing fit. If the glass door is shut and someone is on the other side he slams himself into it. If he were big enough he'd probably go through. If a stranger were to reach for him he would bite them. But if people are over and we confine him he will bark and slam into the door for the entire time. I also would expect he may destroy something or poop while confined. It takes hours for him to warm up to a guest.

So my thought are maybe meds would make him less reactive, less on edge all of the time. I've worked with him on not barking out the window or not barking when he can hear voices but I honestly think he cannot help himself. I've tried working on self control stuff in training sessions but he always does perfectly fine.

How would I go about finding out if he would be a good candidate for medication?
See a vet behaviorist

The thing that kills me the most about the medication is that we worked for 4 years doing things like LAT, BAT, CC, Desensitization, ALL of the stuff that you're supposed to do, and sure it helped a little, but he was still very very very much not getting better.
With meds, we are doing THE SAME THINGS. The same EXACT protocols and behavior modification when it comes to his dog/human reactivity.
We got nowhere in 4 years. And now in 2 and a half MONTHS of the SAME work, he is a completely different dog. THE SAME WORK! It kills me.
What the medication DOES, simplified, is just to bring the anxiety down enough so that he has the ability to LEARN. Because in his previous state he was literally unable to retain any of the stuff that I thought at the time he was learning.
(Our SA work is completely different than other stuff we have tried though, and the SA is ultimately what we went to see Dr. D about, though she likes to be kept abreast of his reactivity/generalized anxiety stuff as well.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by skittledoo View Post

My boss told me she had seen most dogs on meds end up much worse though which is interesting. So... I'm kind of on the fence as to whether I should talk to my vet about putting him on meds or not.
It seems like your boss likes to try and talk you out of this all the time. I don't understand it. Does she not see that Bamm has severe issues that AREN'T getting better? Doesn't she see that there is a good chance that this could completely change his life for the better?
And honestly if dogs are medicated and ending up worse, something wrong is happening. I wonder if she is seeing these dogs before hand and working with them through the process, or if she is going off people who tell her that their dogs are worse with meds, which again, something is not being done right if the dog is chronically worse.

I know I've said this before, and it probably sounds extremely cheesy and exaggerated, but I'll say it again because it is 100% the truth.

If given the choice of having Frodo live 10 more years in his previous state, or 1 more year on medication and then he would die. I would, without even having to think about it, choose the 1 more year. Because he is functioning, happy dog now. He gets to go places and do things that I would not have even dreamed of being able to do 6 months ago. It's amazing.

So yeah, I would say that I like medication just a little.
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Old 10-15-2012, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PWCorgi View Post
My answers in blue




It seems like your boss likes to try and talk you out of this all the time. I don't understand it. Does she not see that Bamm has severe issues that AREN'T getting better? Doesn't she see that there is a good chance that this could completely change his life for the better?
And honestly if dogs are medicated and ending up worse, something wrong is happening. I wonder if she is seeing these dogs before hand and working with them through the process, or if she is going off people who tell her that their dogs are worse with meds, which again, something is not being done right if the dog is chronically worse.

I know I've said this before, and it probably sounds extremely cheesy and exaggerated, but I'll say it again because it is 100% the truth.

If given the choice of having Frodo live 10 more years in his previous state, or 1 more year on medication and then he would die. I would, without even having to think about it, choose the 1 more year. Because he is functioning, happy dog now. He gets to go places and do things that I would not have even dreamed of being able to do 6 months ago. It's amazing.

So yeah, I would say that I like medication just a little.
Her recommendation was that I rehome him or euthanize. I would rather try medication and see if it helps. The main thing that got me considering medication more was when you told me that with Frodo it calmed him enough so that you could actually make a breakthrough to him on the training side of it. Bamm is so smart and he loves working and training when it comes to everything else. If I could make that breakthrough like you did with Frodo when it comes to the reactivity then maybe just maybe we can finally make a lot more progress in areas I have almost but given up on.
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Old 10-15-2012, 02:41 PM
stephsousa stephsousa is offline
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Have you ever tried any of the anti-anxiety supplements that are out there? I know this site has two different products that may help. www.luckydogvitamin.com. Here are the two products i'm thinking of:
Zen Biscuits: http://www.luckydogvitamin.com/crani...s-10-6-oz.html
Anxiety Free: http://www.luckydogvitamin.com/anxiety-free.html
Good luck to you!
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:31 PM
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Definitely try meds. They help a LOT of dogs. I'd definitely go the vet behaviorist route too.

We tried them for several months with Scout. She was on clomipramine. It didn't really do anything for her and luckily we didn't see any side effects either. Scout's kind of an odd duck though, so I certainly would not discourage you from trying meds!!!

DAP really helps Scout and last Friday I started her on Bach Rescue Remedy. I'm doing four drops on her food morning and night. She hasn't had any super goosey days since starting, but that could be coicidence because it hasn't been that long. Eh, I don't care that she's weird I just care that her quality of life is good. So far DAP has been the most helpful thing we've tried. And of course we're always doing training (CU and BAT) to help her too. Been doing that since I took her in.
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Old 10-15-2012, 03:49 PM
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I just feel like he's ALWAYS on edge, particularly indoors. He will take treats and they will prevent a reaction if you start before he barks almost always, though sometimes I have to convince him (like I've thrown them into his face before to get him to notice their existence). Once he starts barking though he will either ignore the treats or bark, take a treat, bark, choke, and bark some more while choking. He thinks what he is doing is super important though, I really think he believes his safety is dependent upon him making as much noise as possible.


The biggest obstacle for us is price of a vet behaviorist. Not sure when that will be feasible.
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Old 10-15-2012, 04:53 PM
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Definitely vet behaviorist. As has been said above, regular DVM's just don't receive enough education on behavioral meds to make good, clear, concise recommendations-- not because they don't understand the meds, but evade they don't understand the underlying issues.

Also, here is a pretty decent article that explains a lot of them:

http://dogaware.com/articles/wdjanxiety.html
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