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Likeradar's avatar

Do you have any experience with anti-anxiety medicine for your dog?

Asked by Likeradar (19575points) May 27th, 2010

My dog, who was rescued about 8 months ago, is a bit of a nutcase (and I love her). She goes through life being very scared of so many different things, and the boy and I feel bad for her and are thinking about putting her on meds to help her relax and enjoy life more.
What are our options? What are the side effects? How much should we expect it to cost?
Of course I know the vet is the person I need to ask about this, but it’s expensive and we would rather have some info going in.
Anyone have any experience they can share?

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16 Answers

syz's avatar

Anxiolytics in dogs can be helpful in some cases, but work best when used in conjunction with behavior modification. Have you looked into a veterinary behaviorist?

Commonly used drugs are Clomipramine, Fluoxetine, and Amitryptyline. All of these drug have potential side effects and drawbacks.

I’m sure there will also be some suggestions for holistic medication, but since I consider the whole field to be crap (!), I’ll withhold any further comment.

Merriment's avatar

I have had a couple of nutcases that I adopted along the way. Both of these dogs would have been on the psychiatrists couch in a heartbeat when I first met them.

Instead of medicating them I put them on a two long walk a day program. Very clear rules in the house helped them become more confident about themselves. I introduced them to other unrelated dogs so they co get confident about navigating around them. One of my dogs had a phobia of smallish kids so, every chance I get, I walk her past them in a controlled manner.

They aren’t ever going to be perfectly “balanced” dogs but they do function and enjoy their lives.

Medicating dogs is like medicating humans there is always a trade off at some point. Meaning while they may be calmer and more relaxed they may also be damaging their liver or kidney function.

It helps if when they are behaving unstable we can resist the impulse to feel sorry for them and baby them. When they are unstable they need to be treated matter of factly and as if you expect them to be able to overcome it (just like a pack leader in the wild would behave.)

I wouldn’t trade my flaky dogs for anything.

Draconess25's avatar

It made him even more anxious when we tried to give it to him. He didn’t like us much afterwards.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It seems like all rescued dogs experience some initial nuttyness. 8 months isn’t a long time, depending on how bad the situation was. Try to learn what the stressors are and work around them before you try drugs.

marinelife's avatar

Before I started on anti-anxiety medications, I would try a combination of Bach’s Rescue Remedy and behavior modification. Look into training for anxious dogs.

Likeradar's avatar

We haven’t met with a behaviorist, but we’ve done a lot of research and nothing we’ve tried, from how to react when she panics or how to introduce her to things, helps. At all. In fact, she’s more fearful now than she was when we got her.
Her stressors are essentially everything aside me and the boy and our apartment. She literally hides and trembles as soon as another person talks to me or her (and yes, we’ve had our friends try everything), no matter the person’s size, demeanor, gender, etc—aside from kids. She loves kids). She’s flinched when a door gently closes when we’re on the porch. And her fears are getting worse. When we first got her, she was cool with the elevator. A few weeks ago, she decided it was the scariest thing ever. So it’s not one thing, like she’s afraid of big men or when we wave the newspaper around. She’s scared of almost everything that’s not in her immediate home.

YARNLADY's avatar

We give our dog a tranquilizer every year on New Years Eve and the Fourth of July, because I’m afraid he would literally be scared to death. He shakes so, he can’t even breathe. I used to put him in the bathroom with the shower on, but I got tired of sitting in there for an hour every fireworks holiday.

We are currently having a lightening and thunder storm, which used to terrify him, but I have the TV on a music channel and he can’t hear the thunder as much. He’s lying on my feet instead of his chair, but not shaking.

Likeradar's avatar

@YARNLADY We’ve done the bathroom/shower thing too! I’m worried about the 4th of July… she’ll probably shake herself to death. :(

rooeytoo's avatar

I think @merriment has an excellent suggestion, long walks. And remember what Cesar says, do not reward the fearful behavior with pats and reassurances, that is like saying you are being a good dog when you act crazy.

Also, as @marinelife says Rescue Remedy has apparently helped many dogs, I’ve never tried it on my dogs, but lots of folks on the lists swear by it.

Heavy duty meds are a last resort to me, I would try everything else first.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Sounds like she was seriously abused by grownups, you said she loves kids. Is there a daycare facility where she could spend some time? If that’s her comfort zone, maybe she could spend some time there, get used to the other noises and gain some confidence. I’m afraid the drugs might be the only other alternative. I was adopted by two abandoned golden retreivers and I spent a lot of money on various drugs, but I don’t have any experience with the anti-anxiety meds. My dogs were terrified of gloves, loud noises, and kids, but I was able to rehab them and really enjoyed my time with them. They were most comfortable outside. They were not comfortable inside, which might also be the case with your dog. Good luck.

Likeradar's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe @rooeytoo Thanks for the advice, but she gets plenty of long walks, and she goes to doggie day care once a week.

@syz I never thanked you for the meds info- so thanks!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Likeradar I was thinking of children’s daycare, if possible to socialize her for lack of a better term.

Likeradar's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Ah. I don’t know about that. I can only imagine anyone going to a day care and saying “so my dog is a nervous wreck, can she hang out with these kids?” It’s hard enough to get a day care or preschool license around here!

She does actually come to work with me (I’m a nanny) about once a week. She’s great with the kids, but as soon as an adult walks in…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Likeradar I was worried about the liability issues. How anyone could abuse a dog or anything is beyond me. Good luck with her. If you succeed in rehabing her, you’ll end up with one heck of a relationship.

Likeradar's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Thanks. We already have a wonderful relationship (I’m one of only 2 adults she likes!), and I just adore my little nutjob. :)

lillycoyote's avatar

You might try this stuff: Rescue Remedy It’s either homeopathic or a bunch snake oil, depending on your point of view, but it might be worth a try. It worked on my animals and some people swear by it. You should be able to find it at your local health food or supplement store.

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