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Talking To The Vet About Anti-Anxiety Medication

2827 Views 18 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TruckersMom
Trucker has been home 74 days (2 months and 13 days) and has slowly been improving with some of his triggers but I feel like every time we make any sort of headway with on trigger another pops up. I know that he has what seems like an endless list of triggers to work on and that we are on a journey, this is okay. What I don't want is for it to be horrible for him along the way. I am not looking to create a roller-coaster of emotions with his life. I would really like to be able to give him a formal trainer/behaviorist to help with this process (as he is my first dog) but at this point this isn't even an option.

We have tried all the homeopathic anti-anxiety treatments per the previous vets requests but they have failed to make any real impact. His Thundershirt helps but only to take the slightest edge off in the most minor of cases. If the other homeopathic treatments are doing anything it is only this taking a very limited edge off in very minor trigger situations.

The first vet we saw we loved but she has since left the clinic we go too. The last vet that we saw swore that Trucker did not actually have anxiety or fear but that he was just adjusting to his new environment (this is a load of malarkey). We have a new vet that we truly love and that seems to understand how anxious Trucker really is, unlike the vets he has seen in the past. She is so awesome; she enters the room by opening the door as little a possible, takes off her white coat, crouches down, approaches him with her back turned, and never makes eye contact with him.

Basically this whole long explanation leads me too, how do you broach the subject of prescription anti-anxiety medication to your vet and what makes a dog a good canidate for prescription anti-anxiety medication? If a dog is started on prescription anti-anxiety medication can they be weened off it at a later date or is it a life long thing?

At first I too was wholely against putting Trucker on any sort of prescription anti-anxiety medication but I think it is time to at least explore the possibility.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry it is long I tried to give some background but I have been trying to track his progress here:
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@camper There are so many I have never actually listed them all out.

So include:

  • "Strange" people
  • Doorways
  • Looking in his direction (not making eye contact but just looking his direction)
  • People moving
  • Fast Movement
  • Loud Noises
  • Rain
  • Anything unexpected (people walking by the house, cars driving by, my neighbors having people over, etc.)
  • "Strange" places
  • Trash cans
  • Using any voice tone other than a "neutral" one
The list could go on and on, a lot of the time I think he is "triggered" by this perception (just thinking out things) rather than the actual thing it's self.

The people, fast movement, jump ropes/belts, and rain (it hits him) make sense to me since they are pretty sure he was whipped in an attempt to make him a "good hunting dog".

That's what I thought was that we could maybe do it without medication and I was truly hoping for this but it seems like he is just trigger by so many things I can't figure out how to make this work (and I don't want to make him live in fear).
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Taking the article that you linked to if I do the 3 P's thing:

Provocation: "Strange" people are his biggest one, I guess. When outside the safety of his house he is hyper-aware to everything else that is "strange" because he is on the constant lookout for "strange" people.

But this doesn't explain his "trigger" to rain, belts, fast movement, etc. (especially while inside his "safe place" i.e. his house).

Proportion: If Trucker encounters a "strange" person he will "low growl" (it is like a "I am here growl"), give one bark, retreat to the safety of a corner if possible, full body tremble/shake, give whale eyes, pin his ears back, keep checking in my direction, and try to compress his body as small as possible. All these will occur ever if the person never even steps closer to him. If they step closer to him then he freezes.

Persistence: After a "strange" person encounter it can take up to 6 hours for Trucker to come out of hiding. Even once he is out of hiding he is only able to chew on his rawhide bone or go to sleep in his crate. It can take up to 2 days for him to "sleep off" the stress of each encounter.

Even after a "strange" person has passed on a walk Trucker has to head home to hide under the bed for a couple hours. When he goes to the vet I have to carry him in and out because he is frozen and when we return home again he is back under the bed. After the last encounter with a "strange" person he spent all of the next day in his crate (by choice with the door open) except for eating and going to the bathroom (probably a total of 2 hours).

Some "triggers" (loud noises) he recovers really quickly from then others he has what I classify as "moderate reactions". This can be seen like rain where he won't go back outside once the rain has hit him once but he isn't hiding under the bed.
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We have our follow up ear appointment today and I am going to talk about it. I tried to call the veterinary behaviorist that seems to show up when I look for one and was told that I needed to be referred by out vet.

Pet|Behavior|Veterinary Behavior Clinic but it doesn't look like she is board certified anyway
The vet decide to start Trucker on Xanax for now till his blood work comes back then we will start Prozac with Xanax as a helper when needed. She also wants to start him on a behavioral modification training program :)

He is the favorite dog at the vet practice we go too, everyone loves him. They toss treats to him from the doorway and look at him threw the tiny window. I love all the vet techs there :)
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She recommended a behaviorist who has worked with a couple of their clients before and she also provided some papers for me to read. I was going to call her tonight and see what she had to say. I want to still talk to the other 2 before deciding on the right fit.

Do you know about how long Xanax takes to work? I want to know when I should start to see either good or bad reactions.
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I think he had a reaction to the Xanax that isn't noted. according to the vet the reactions should be things like sedation and not eating. But I think he got excited (in like 10/15 minute bursts then crashed) and the grands on the sides of his penis swelled up while concerned me that it wasn't a stated side effect. So I stopped giving him that.
@cookieface I defiantly did. She said it could always be his prostate but that seems like a major coincidence and he is going to the bathroom fine.
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I am thinking about asking about changing the longer term medication to Buspirone because I have read it has WAY less side effects. Trucker hasn't started the Prozac proscription yet so now I guess would be the optimal time but I wanted to see if anyone had used it with their dog.
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