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  1. #1
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Default Prozac for Boomer

    Well, we tried making the changes that our behaviorist suggested, and they worked well for some of Boomer's anxiety. For example, he initiates playtime now, which he never used to do. He loves to play tug-of-war (a confidence builder) and lately has "accidentally" discovered the fun of keep-away. He hasn't growled at family members since he had the Adaptil collar, which was a very welcome change!

    However, that is not to say that it's all been positive. He has a harder time going on walks, stopping very often and refusing to go further. So we stopped taking him for walks... and he seemed to be doing really well.

    Then, last night, we took him on a family outing to the park. He was doing really well, but then, to our complete surprise, they started setting off FIREWORKS. Poor, poor Boomer... he went into a complete panic. He jerked left and right with his tail tucked and, not knowing what to do, since there were so many people around and our car was far away, I tried to just hug him/restrain him with my arms so he wouldn't hurt anyone or himself. He was just terrified, completely crazy-eyed, which is a scary thing when you have a 105lb very strong dog! The worst part was, while he was OBVIOUSLY PANICKING, so many people came over saying "Oh what a cute dog, can I pet him?" NO!! He is totally overwhelmed, SORRY. But these adults would come, invariably, one after another, and pet him ANYWAY. Not only that, they would let their children run at his face. We were very, VERY lucky he didn't try to bite anyone last night.

    Finally, when the fireworks died down, we felt like he was calm enough to walk him back to the car. He darted inside and had a full-on panic attack... panting so hard that he was dry-heaving, and a couple of times gagged like he was actually vomiting. It was terrible and it lasted for a good 15 minutes of us petting and soothing him before he started to calm down a little.

    And then today, (probably related to his stressful night) we had a friend come over to our house to drop off some baked goodies. This was a friend he should have known well... she's been over many times and he's even been to her house before. She has never yelled or treated him in any way that should make him scared of her. He barked and barked at her and growled after we let her into the house. When she was leaving, she bent down to say goodbye to him and he barked and snapped at her.

    Anyway, I guess all that is a long way of saying that we will most likely have to put him on Prozac in order to keep everybody safe. I was initially reluctant to do so because we have had a very bad experience in our family with anti-depressants, and so I wanted to try everything organic before resorting to pharmaceuticals. But seeing how he completely shut down at the fireworks last night made me realize just how deep-seated his fear really is... as much as we try to shield our pups from scary things, we can never be in control all the factors, especially if we want them to live a full and enriched life, and to be able to enjoy as much of the beauty of the world as they can in their short time on earth.

    Breaks my heart to put him on psychiatric meds, potentially for the rest of his life. Being in the medical field, I know objectively that for certain cases, antidepressants are not only beneficial but necessary... but still I can't help but feel like I've failed him in some way, like if he went to a different, quieter home he wouldn't have to take a pill every day that will dull his senses and emotions. Sometimes it's hard to know what the right thing is, all I know is that rehoming him is even more unthinkable than doping him up. :/

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    Here's a picture of him. You'd never know from looking at him what a big ball of nerves he is.

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    Having had a Pyr on anxiety meds her whole life, which helped her deal with life.
    I don't see Boomer having to be on meds for his whole life, nor do I see
    the need for them right now.
    True. ...one cannot control every situation. ..but I think you handled everything
    very well. And unfortunately there us no cure for clueless people who
    insist that all dogs love to be petted. In that case your only recourse is
    to be absolutely rude and tell them point blank. ..GET AWAY FROM MY DOG
    HE'S UNCOMFORTABLE AND MAY SNAP.
    We stopped taking Holly to places we knew she would have a meltdown
    like Boomer did....when people came over, we put her in a quiet place
    and only let her out after checking on her to see if her anxiety level
    was calm.
    I think you are doing great with Boomer...I wasn't there, did not experience
    what you did...but I think I might wait a bit if you really don't want to put
    him on meds.

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    I kind of agree with Nancy that the situation last night was not normal everyday thing. A lot of dogs have fireworks phobia and many of those dogs are ones that do not have anxiety issues in everyday normal life.

    I can't opine on whether Boomer should be on Prozac as I've no experience with it. Boomer's fireworks phobia is probably something you will have to manage for the rest of his life. But that issue in of itself would not be something that he would need to be medicated every single day. What I do believe is that for the next few months you probably should not be taking Boomer out to any public places where you wouldn't be able to remove or protect him from unsolicited attention. It really sounded like Boomer was making good progress, but with anxiety dogs, a bad experience can set them back from months of work.

    I've had a dog with anxiety issues though he was not put on medication. He would be the one on the right of my avatar pic. Bro did not like attention from strangers, period. He did not like children at all. The most important thing about working with Bro was that we avoided taking him to any place that I would not have absolute control over the environment. This meant Bro did not go to big public events with crowds of people. If someone wanted to pet Bro, the answer was an unequivocal "no" plus body blocking if necessary. We built Bro's confidence by enrolling him in agility class. I didn't pick obedience because I thought obedience was too rigid. Bro was very athletic and so I thought agility would work for him. It did - to an extent I never imagined when we first started.

    Boomer made good progress in the short time you started working with him. He had a set back, it feels discouraging, but it's something you can work to overcome. This was never going to be an overnight success story, so take a deep breath and continue working with him. You'll get there.

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Chester is on medication for his anxiety, and will most likely be medicated for life. I made the decision to medicate after it was clear that he wasnít making progress with training and natural remedies alone. It was the right decision for us, but medicating isnít right for everyone.

    These are powerful drugs, and it can take some trial and error to find the right medicine (or combination of medicines) for the dog. Also, it takes weeks before you know if the drug makes the dog better, has no discernible effect on the dog, or makes the dogís behavior worse. The first medication I tried with Chester fell into the last category.

    Despite Boomerís setback, I see a lot of positives in your post. The Adaptil and calm-a-mile are working. He is initiating play, and figuring out which games he really enjoys. Yay, Boomer! He is finding ways of coping with stressors that donít involve growling or snapping. Great job, Boomer! This boy deserves a standing ovation (with golf claps, though)!

    Sebastian is generally a pretty brave, confident boy. He does suffer from firework and storm distress, though. We live almost exactly one mile from where they set off the Addison Kaboomtown fireworks (for those outside the DFW area, itís one of the biggest Fourth of July fireworks displays in the country). Kaboomtown night is no fun at our house. This past year, I came up with a plan to get the dogs through the fireworks without freaking out. They did really well. Then, we had several thunderstorms that week. It took Sebastian several days after the last thunderstorm to bounce back. That was without anything else to stress him out.

    As distressing as it is to watch the dog you love have a full-blown panic attack (Iíve seen Chester have one, and it was heartbreaking), I think itís pretty remarkable that he was able to keep it together so well until you got him to the car. Another round of golf claps for Boomer!

    I would definitely make it a point to reach out to Dr. Lockhart and tell her about what happened. I found her to be very good about checking and responding to email.

    As far as the behavior where he lies down and refuses to budge while youíre walking, thatís pretty normal LGD behavior. Sebastian is especially prone to it when itís hot outside, or when we disagree about where to go. To be on the safe side, I would try to have Dr. Lockhart observe the behavior during your next appointment.

    As far as whether or not medication is right for Boomer, well, thatís your decion to make. From what youíve written, i donít think itís unreasonable to give the current plan more time to work before making that choice.

    Sending big hugs!
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  5. #5
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Thank you so much for the encouragement... It makes me feel better. I was upset because Boomer was so upset... Isn't it amazing how dogs and owners just reflect each other's emotions??

    I've been asking around and some people have had good results using CBD oil. The stuff is expensive ($40 for a small eyedropper vial) and the dosage is high for a heavy dog (5 dropperfulls every day) but I just picked some up and I'm excited to see if it works. I gave it to him with a raw egg about 15 minutes ago, and it's supposed to take 30 min to kick in so... this will be interesting!! His vet appt isn't until Wednesday and so I figured this would be a good time to try it and if it doesn't work, we'll ask for something stronger. Even though Boomer is playing more and growling less, he still pants nonstop and sometimes drools in our house, even when nothing is going on and he's just lying there. Hopefully this will make him be calmer at the vet too... last time the vet muzzled him, and he didn't like that one bit!!!

    @SebastiansMom - When we met with Dr. Lockhart, she asked to take a walk with us. We did, and Boomer did his stopping thing, and she said it was due to fear and anxiety. She pointed out that his tail was down the whole time, meaning he doesn't feel comfortable. I hadn't thought anything of the stopping before because I had read about Pyrs sometimes having that behavioral quirk. I guess his is more due to anxiety. :/

    @Jewel - I'm really interested in hearing more about how the agility classes helped Bro! I never would have thought of enrolling a big ol' independent-minded Pyr in agility classes, but I am more and more convinced of the beneficial effects of training and more importantly, having a "job". How often do you go to them? Do you have a set of agility obstacles at home that you use regularly in order for it to have an effect?

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    I picked agility because Bro was extremely athletic and he had no fear of inanimate objects so he would have no issues with the obstacles. Bro was also a pyr mix, so he wasn't completely wired like a pyr. He was a lot more biddable than purebred pyrs.

    When we first started class, Bro would not go do an obstacle if the trainer was within 10 feet of us. Our trainer has a loud voice but she never ever ever yelled at Bro. But she intimidated him anyway. It took more than a year before Bro would even take a treat from the trainer's hand. It took 3 years, no exaggeration, before the trainer was able to pet Bro on the head.

    Agility class was also good for him because all the other dogs in the class stayed by their owners and focused on the class and didn't pay attention to him. He learned that other dogs aren't "out to get him."

    There are several trainers in the North Dallas area. I haven't been in the agility circle for more than 2 years. But Ren is slated to start beginner's class hopefully later this year. I will find out names of trainers for you.

    But I would say that before you enroll Boomer in any class, it would probably be a good idea to check with Dr. Lockhart first to make sure he is ready to take that step.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

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    I have 2 dogs with a variety of anxiety issues. Roxy is a Border Collie/ Aussie mix and has severe anxiety. She is medicated and most likely will be for the rest of her life. Her anxiety is nonspecific and something she is just fine with today, could cause her severe stress tomorrow. There is very little warning to what will set her off and as such our behaviorist opted to medicate her for her well being. We have had to change meds and she is currently on one that works extremely well for her.

    Apollo is a Pyr and has specific anxiety. Fireworks freak him out. Sounds a lot like what happened to Boomer. Apollo is generally not medicated, however we do have a prescription of Valium. Apollo is also somewhat aggressive, territorial and it can be hard to have house guests or company. The fourth of July was horrible for him. Not so much because of the city fireworks but because of the shitwits in my neighborhood shooting off fireworks constantly for 5 days. It took him a few days to normalize after everything calmed down. My dogs love a walk, but for a week after the fireworks it was hard to even get them to go in the yard for a fast pee. Apollo flat refused to go out after dark. I have the Valium here with me, just in case something comes up and I need it. Since getting the pills in July I have used them once. That was also for fireworks and what I noted was that he recovered far faster and we were able to take him outside the next day without the histrionics. I would for sure discuss this with the behaviorist but don't set your mind to just one thing. Keep an open mind about possible treatments.

  8. #8
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    In need of some support right now.... Boomer seemed to have been doing better but our behaviorist recommended getting him on some medications anyway because there were certain aspects of his anxiety that were getting worse (going out at night, having strangers in the house).

    We tried the CBD oil which worked beautifully for 1 day, and after that it had no effect. He had a big freak out when they muzzled him at the vet and tried to leave him to get him weighed... I could hear him thrashing around in the next room, and he ended up undoing the muzzle and stationing himself in one of the empty rooms. I was able to cajole him out to get him on the scale, but it was not a good situation for everyone, and that's when I was sure that we needed something stronger than CBD oil.

    So we took home a prescription for Trazodone (because Prozac takes a little longer to work). It was $76 for a one-month supply!!! They have him on two tabs of 100mg each, twice a day. So, 400mg a day total. Anyway, I thought it's worth a shot.

    That was last Tuesday, and he's been taking it consistently for nearly a week now. I have not seen any improvement in his anxiety, and in fact, it seems to be worse. He is more clingy to me than ever - he stands up when I stand up, and follows me to the bathroom, and is visibly upset when I'm getting ready to leave. He is barking and growling at strangers at our door, and he doesn't stop barking after we let them in, like he used to.

    To make matters worse, he has lost interest in his Kong, which he used to love. He has been barely eating. He basically is unable to go outside at all now without being spooked. And, worst of all, he bit my mom's hand yesterday when she was taking him out to go potty. It didn't break her skin, but you can see the bruises where her whole hand was in his mouth.

    He has another meeting with Dr. Lockhart tomorrow, in which we will discuss options. I am feeling sick about all this and fearing the worst.

    I threw him a rawhide in the yard just now so he could have something to work on instead of his Kong, but he is not eating it. When I bent down to grab it, he snarled so viciously at me that I couldn't believe it. I retreated and shut the door. He still isn't eating the rawhide, and was begging to come inside, but when my grandma touched the doorknob to open it for him, he barked menacingly at her. So now he is just outside, and we're at an impasse. I feel like we are going to lose our beloved dog.

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Christi's Avatar

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    First, take a deep breath. you being over the top anxious is going to add to his anxiety. I understand why you are so upset, my boy once came after me, very aggressively and it took me weeks to trust him again. First, no rawhide, for a few reasons. They generally can create food aggression which is never good. Second with these big guys they can shatter them before they get soft and goopy and create a pretty bad injury. And third they mostly come from China, and the food practices there are far different than ours. My next thoughts are, he wants YOU, not your Mom or Grandma, so you should be the one to bring him in. Does he have a crate or a safe zone where he can be inside but be kept separate? I am not sure about your living situation so my next question is there any way to clear the house out so there is not so many people around him to give him a shot at destressing and things being calm and normal?

    He may need a different medication, Roxy has went through a few different ones before we got the right one.

    As to the not eating, that could be from the meds, they have side effects and can make the dog feel out of sorts, which puts them off food sometimes. You could try adding some boiled chicken, or even a scrambled egg to his kibble and see if that will entice him.

    Once you can get him in the house, go in the yard and without him and get rid of the rawhide. I have one dog with food aggression and we have to be careful what she gets, and have to take steps to separate the dogs. She is food aggressive with other dogs, not people. However she is Toy aggressive with people. Certain toys are off limits in my house. I would say Rawhide needs to be at your house. I can't have the stuffed toys with Roxy, she loves them but snarls at me if I even look at her when there is one here.

  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I agree with Christi. Deep breaths. With medications, it can take some trial and error to find the right drug/s at the right dose/s. There is still lots of hope.

    Did your vet prescribe the Trazodone? I am certainly not an expert, but 200mg twice a day seems like a massive dose. Chester takes it (amongst other things), and we started at a low dose and worked our way up to where he is now. Every time we increased his dose, it took him a few days to get over feeling groggy from the medicine.

    Earlier this year, my neurologist had me on a medication (Topamax) that had serious cognitive side effects for me (I convinced her to switch me to something else after I took my morning dose, forgot that I had taken my morning dose, and then took a second morning dose). Every day when Chester gets his morning medicine treats, Sebastian gets an empty pill pocket so that he doesn’t feel left out. I have a system in place to ensure that the correct dog receives the correct pill pocket/s. Sadly, that system was not Topamax-proof, and there was a day when Sebastian ended up getting the pill pocket with 40mg of Paxil and 100mg of Trazodone. By the time I had figured it out and reached into Sebastian’s mouth to try to retrieve it, it was too late. I ended up calling the ASPCA poison control hotline (programmed into my phone since the day Chester ate my Synthroid), and they told me that the Trazodone could make him lethargic, it could make him agitated (in either of those cases I would have needed to have him seen by a vet), or it could make him feel pretty good. He ended up having the best day of his life, as evidenced here:
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    And now you know my deepest, darkest secret. I am still totally ashamed, even though Sebastian had a blast.

    This same dose does not have the same effect on Chester, who is roughly half Sebastian’s size. All it does with Chester is bring him down to a spot where he can function.

    With Boomer, it could be that the Trazodone is not the right drug for him, or it could be that 200mg 2x/day isn’t the right dose for him. Please please talk about it with Dr. Lockhart tomorrow.

    Chester’s medications are prescribed by a veterinarian who specializes in behavior cases. She and Dr. Lockhart have worked together on a number of complicated cases before. If you are interested in talking to Dr. Lockhart about bringing this vet in, let me know, and I will pass along her name.

    If you suspect that Boomer will have to be muzzled at the vet’s in the future, I would also strongly encourage you to talk to Dr. Lockhart about how to go about muzzle training him, so that it isn’t such a stressful event for him.

    Sending you big big hugs!
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