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  1. #1
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    Default Abrupt Behavior Change - Outside In

    I've posted a number of times about Benaiah... the time has come for another one. I will give the brief version of this one.

    Around June of 2018, Benaiah pretty suddenly changed. He started having what look like panic/anxiety attacks, usually in the evening, wanting to come inside. Whining outside (he *never* whines), scratching at the door and even windows on the deck (they are low), rapidly panting, pacing back and forth (we had never seen him do that).

    We eventually tried medication for hypothyroidism, because it was on the low side... along with trying other things, including probiotics and CBD oil. The thyroid medication *seemed* to work, and he more or less was normal for a while, with bouts now and then where he would pace, but eventually chill out and go to sleep on the deck or in the barn.

    Benaiah has always been outside, and came inside on his own terms (which was relatively seldomly, and never at night; he would almost never come inside at night, even if asked or bribed).

    Fast forward to Thanksgiving, and it started up again. He started going hours (instead of ~30 minutes). We let him in at night, then, and he would calm down inside and sleep. I know this may have been a bad idea in terms of "rewarding" the behavior, but something seemed wrong.

    Then, around Christmas, he started having panic/anxiety during the day, not just in the evening; at night, he went from room to room, panting. Finally, we put him in the bathroom with music on and closed the door. He quieted down ... and was in there several nights in a row.

    The vet had given us alprazolam as a "if it is going to be bad, you can try this." We tried it several times, and it seemed to have no effect (nor did CBD oil). Becuase we had a trip in January, we got a very quick appointment after Christmas and ended up trying Sileo. This also had no effect, the couple times we tried it (which weren't actually on our trip). They also did a ton of tests, which showed ... nothing! He is apparently healthy.

    We decided to try some other stuff:
    * Tryptophan
    * L-Theanine
    * Melatonin
    * SAMe
    * Fish oil

    I should mention some other "symptoms" at this point.
    * Awkard positions when laying down ... or at least, not looking comfortable
    * Sleeping *way* more than normal, inside almost all the time, not really caring about going outside (perks up if you say "want to go on a walk?" )
    * Eating way less (though only lost ~6 pounds)
    * Licking his front legs quite frequently (discolored hair there, too)
    * Not really liking to be brushed anymore
    * Just generally acting ... depressed, and very low energy.

    And, we took him off the "turkey and sweet potato" food we had switched to (due to pancreatitis concerns) because we thought maybe he had a poultry allergy. The reason we thought this is that he had two other odd physical things:
    * His nose turned pink (I know this isn't supposed to happen, so he probably has some sketchy genetics; but it turned pinker - like all pink, vs. what it was when it lightened initially at ~2 years old - ... rather suddenly).
    * His hair turned ... pink tinted, but not just where he can lick (though there, too), but around his neck/collar. This, we read, could be related to poultry allergies.

    And ... it worked! A week ago, he actually was outside. Took himself on an excursion outside our fence (we live on 80 acres; we kinda just let him wander at that point, it was good for him). He stayed out - happily - all night, barking at things, doing his normal job. And it was sunny that weekend (that almost seems correlated).

    And then ... it stopped working. He's not exhibiting anxiety attacks, but he still is acting depressed, wants to be inside basically all the time, etc.

    7 months ago, he was a completely outside dog, aside from when we'd let him inside sometimes (usually, he'd want to come in during meal times). Fairly nocturnal, barking at coyotes at night, patroling, etc.

    -----

    Ok, so long story over; anyone have any ideas? His thyroid levels are normal, so that's apparently not it. Some things we're considering trying:
    * Perhaps he has some form of chronic pain - maybe try painkillers/anti-inflammatories. Should be a quick determination as to whether or not it helps. Anyone ever had similar symptoms that turned out to be pain related?
    * Potent probiotics. Maybe he has GI issues. Humans in my family do and certain high potency probiotics have significantly helped.
    * Fluoextine. Maybe he really is ... depressed/anxious. Has anyone had success with it?

    Other random things:
    * It seems to get worse with wind... usually. He was fine in this weather for 2 years (we moved 3.5 years ago).
    * It seems to get better with sunshine... sometimes. But, 2 years...
    * The days last week that he was feeling better, he acted better all around. Playful, pulled on his walks, energetically sniffing things/checking them out, stayed outside and didn't even *want* to come in (that's the dog we are used to!), ate a *ton* (more than usual).
    * He doesn't, at this point, have too many friends outside; he's not actually *with* his goats/animals, so maybe he's ... lonely? We're planning on getting a Pyr puppy this year, and figuring out how to have him (or them) with the goats.
    * He is not destructive inside. He just lays down.

    If you have read this far ... thank you! I appreciate you even reading it all.

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

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    Wow...you have had a full plate!!! And you've done some wonderful research in helping Benaiah...glad taking him off of the poultry formula has helped him.

    But my question is...why do you think he's "depressed"?
    Is is just because he likes to come into the house & spend time there with you?

    To me, he's just showing his maturity and now has decided he wants to be with his human flock...but you can observe him a lot closer than I or anyone over the internet can...so addressing this would be difficult for us...

    Yes...I have had 3 Pyr's on Fluoxetine...and currently Rudy is on it....it has eased his "grumbling"
    Holly was on it from the time she was 1....she had severe anxiety....it helped her at least focus on us when out in public (which we never forced her beyond her comfort zone) and eventually there were certain people that she would let pet her when they came into our home (she finally figured out "nice person = high quality treat)

    Rudy spends alot of his time outside....however if he hears what could be a gun shot...he's ready to come in & lay down. Could there be something like that happening around your area?

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

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    It's been an advanture for sure! But we like him, hehe. This has also been our first dog, so we have been learning a lot. Overall, he's been a very good dog; doesn't bother our cats or chickens, is totally patient with our girls, etc.

    So, there are a few reasons. Sorry for bullet points, they help me think through things logically.
    * When he really wants to come inside, he doesn't necessarily come to be *with us* ... he goes to his usual spot in the hall. Though, when he was really panicking, he would want to come into our bedroom.
    * I can be outside working on things, and he still is not happy. I was working on some fence yesterday afternoon; he was with me, but acting anxious, panting a bit, etc.
    * On walks, with the whole family, he still doesn't act like himself; he's subdued, not as interested as normal in checking things out (there's plenty of wildlife smells, coyote scat, etc.)
    * When he's in "this mood" and is inside, and the whole family goes out ... he has to be prompted to come with us. He would sleep inside, apparently Not all the time, but he doesn't simply follow us around.
    * When he acted normal - physically and mentally - last weekend, he ignored us, to some extent. Which is normal. If we come outside, he'll come over and see what we're doing, etc., and then go back to finding a good place to lay down and watch his property. And at night... patrolling, barking, etc.

    It is definitely true that for the most part, we are his flock, and not the goats... and that's fine and partly what we were looking for, anyways. However, he has been quite content, until now, to be outside and guard the general property, rather than come inside and go to sleep in the hallway

    There's a variety of noise outside; gun shots occasionally, helicopters during Christmas tree season, etc. Noise does seem to bother him sometimes, including the noise of wind (and also storms in general)... but that is a relatively new response, and seems to be more like what the final trigger is.

    For what it's worth, his symptoms don't necessarily go away when he's inside, either. He can still act anxious, lick his paws, lay in an "uncomfortable" looking way. And when it was *really* bad in December, he continued his pacing and rapid breathing even while inside with us.

    All that said, I do think that having a buddy (a "sister," as we are telling our daughters ) would maybe help, as well as being with his goats and chickens. It would at least give him something, hopefully, to do, other live things to hang out with, someone to play rough with (when the puppy grows up), etc.

    I am doubtful that it's just "one thing" ... but it seems like something pushed it over the edge recently. Maybe he's always had problems with wind, not being with his flock all the time, not having another dog friend, etc... and maybe now something additional is pushing him over the edge in general... that's partly why I wonder maybe he has some sort of chronic pain, and as he has gotten older, it's gotten worse? And either manifesting itself in anxiety (when outside) or, when inside, wanting to basically sleep all the time.

    I have noted that when he is feeling/acting more himself, he is much more energetic. Playful, runs around, pulls on his leash on walks (no no guys, you don't understand, I REALLY need to go smell this!). When he's not feeling himself, when we get back from a walk he literally heads right to the house and waits at the door, once off leash at the gate. While on the walk, he walks close to us, doesn't really seem interested in smelling things, and kinda "slinks" around....

    Sorry, long-winded! I've been trying to observe a lot, so I have lots of words I can type... Thank you for the info about fluexetine. How long did it take to see any results? We're at a point where we'd like to try some things - since all of his health tests seem to come back normal - and just see if anything helps. Pain meds seem like they'd be pretty quick as to seeing whether it helps. Fluoxetine, it sounds like, may take at least a few weeks to notice something?

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

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    For what it's worth...if you are thinking about another companion, may I suggest a female...and possibly an Aussie....we have had this combo for the past 30 years...it seems the Pyrs accept the herding dogs, as they have "worked" together for generations...just a thought

    on the fluoxitene....yes, it does seem to take at least 30 days to work...Rudy is on 10mg once a day...he is still independent, but generally less grumpy

    our Holly, as I said before, was extremely anxious & timid....not to the point of aggression, but to the point of panting, ears back, eyes wide & tail tucked...always looking for an "escape" from whatever was making her anxious.
    As long as she was healthy, and felt safe with us (she didn't always interact with us...and she stayed in the house most of the time) I felt that this was her "normal" self & accepted her as she was...I guess what I'm saying...is that as long as he is healthy, this might be his nature...

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    Road Dawg Brayjj's Avatar

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    I'm sure he was but was he tested for Lyme disease? Our previous pets all had Lyme even the cats (we live in a high tick zone). Anyway they all showed tick borne illness in different ways. Probably isn't it but thought I'd mention.

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

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    @Brayjj - yes, I believe he tested negative for Lyme, but I will have to double check that.

    @NS - We were planning on a female at least, yes. We haven't looked at other dog breeds yet We have heard that neutered male + female is more or less the best combo, or something like that.

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

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    Chester, my non-Pyr, never took Fluoxetine (Prozac), but was on Paroxetine (Paxil) for several years. Before the Paxil, we tried Sertraline (Zoloft), which was not a good choice for him. If you end up trying Fluoxetine and it is not a good fit for your boy, you might have luck with a different antidepressant. It does take several weeks before you start to notice a change in his behavior.

    Sileo seems an odd choice for your vet to have you try, as a) it is really expensive, and b) it was developed to work specifically for noise events like thunderstorms and fireworks, and not for more generalized anxiety.

    If you remember, what thyroid tests did your vet perform, and how often are you having his levels checked. I ask because anxiety can be a symptom of thyroid imbalance, as can the sleeping a lot and having no appetite. In dogs, thyroid disease is usually an autoimmune disease. I, too, have autoimmune thyroid disease, and anxiety was one of the many symptoms I had before I was finally diagnosed. It took me years to get diagnosed because my GP was only testing for TSH, and my TSH levels were always within “normal range”, while my levels of Thyroid hormones were fluctuating wildly. My endocrinologist finally diagnosed me after checking me for antibodies, which were found in pretty high numbers. In the 3 1/2 years since I was diagnosed, my test values have always been within “normal range”, but my drug dose increased and decreased several times before my levels were finally optimized. It could be that Benaiah might benefit from a change in dose of his Thyroid medication.

    I am also a little concerned about his nose turning pink. That can be caused by vitiligo, which is also an autoimmune disease. Having an autoimmune disease can increase the risk of developing other autoimmune diseases. If it were me, I would definitely be talking to my vet about that.

    I do agree that his wanting to spend more time indoors could be a sign of maturity. Sebastian is much more of an indoor dog now that he is older. Come to think of it, Sebastian’s noise phobia didn’t develop until he was somewhere around three years old (give or take a few months), which is not at all uncommon. Sebastian retreats to my closet during storms or fireworks, and if it’s bad, he gets Sileo, and some counterconditioning with treats.

    Two years ago, we had a round of severe storms with unusually strong winds. The storms were so severe we were put under a tornado warning, and the tornado sirens went off, which really spooked Chester, who is not usually all that scared of storms. Several weeks later, on the first really windy day after those severe storms, the wind spooked Chester and had him on edge to the point that when Sebastian barked st something that morning, it nearly put Chester over his threshold. Luckily I was in the room, and knew the signs that Chester was about to flip out. I was able to distract him with treats and redirect his thought processes, thus preventing him from potentially biting Sebastian. Chester’s anxiety has greatly improved since then.

    I hope you are able to figure this out quickly, and get Benaiah comfortable again soon.
    Please keep us posted!
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Paul, you've done a very good job at observing all the details of the behavior change.

    My first thought is with SM, you might want to look into thyroid testing again. I don't have first hand knowledge or experience iike SM, but I have heard and read that thyroid testing is not a straight forward simple process and it isn't unusual for thyroid issues to be misdiagnosed or missed. The symptoms you described are all consistent with thyroid condition, including the change in pigmentation on the nose. The fluctuation in mood/energy level is another very common symptom of thyroid problem. Also, Benaiah is 6 yrs old now, right? Thyroid issues very often hit right at middle age. Given all of this, I think it wouldn't hurt to look more into whether thyroid could be the culprit. If it is, the good news is thyroid medication is inexpensive and once the correct dosage is determined, the symptoms would go away.

    All this could also be reaction to some sort of pain. The tons of tests the vet did, did that include radiographs or ultrasound? I would for certain have a full set of radiographs done as that is usually not terribly expensive. Then if it isn't cost prohibitive, with Benaiah's age and the general appearance that he may not be comfortable, if it were me, I would ask for a full ultrasound.

    Bijou was 6 yrs old when I noticed she was just a tad not full of herself. She was still playing, still eating, still competing in agility. But I just felt she was not 100% but I couldn't point to anything in particular. No one else noticed any change. I chalked it up to her age that she was slowing down a tad. When I finally took her to the vet at the end of March that year we ran a bunch of blood tests and nothing showed up. Bijou died first week in May. She had cancer.

    Bro for a long time would chew his back every so often, just around the hip bones. I thought it was skin issues. Then he would have what I thought episodes of throwing his back out. We knew he has lower neck upper shoulder wear and tear issues and usually when his back locked up we would give him pain killers and muscle relaxers to get him over it. But I noticed that the pain killers and muscle relaxers weren't doing as good a job in those later episodes. What it turned out to be was Bro had bladder stones. Those were episodes of acute pain. When he was finally diagnosed, we were at the emergency vet because he was in acute pain and I asked for radiographs. The emergency vet was skeptical that anything would show up on radiographs. I insisted. The pictures showed tons of little stones, clear as day.

    Thus I am now an advocate for using diagnostic tools available. Vets can't diagnose conditions that they don't know are there.

    There is the third possibility that this could be generalized anxiety. It is also not uncommon that dogs develop anxiety issues as they get older. Bro developed storm anxiety at age 7. Prior to that he had no issues with storms. He also developed car anxiety at around the same age. We got Bro a Thundershirt and that helped with the storm anxiety but it didn't work at all with the car anxiety.

    My 3 cents...

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Another thought that I had is that some of Benaiah’s symptoms are present in dogs with Addison’s Disease. Before I was diagnosed with Thyroid Disease, my doctor was almost certain that I had Addison’s. From what I understand, it’s not super common in Pyrs, but it can happen. It might be worth the blood test.
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) paulewog's Avatar

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    Minor update (and response to SebiastiansMom) ... today, in western Oregon, it was sunny ... and Benaiah did do better (thought not last night). He definitely eats more and has more energy on the days he "does better." The sun thing may just be coincidental, but it's interesting to note.

    @SebastiansMom - thanks for the response and interest =) So the Sileo thing was something to "try" on our trip that we made down to CA. It wasn't a long term solution, but a "if you need to quiet him down, this seems to be having good results." Wind seems to be a trigger, so the thought was something along the lines of maybe noise is a trigger, so... We didn't actually need it in CA; we tried it a few times when we got back, and while it perhaps mildly helped for a few hours, whatever effect it might have had definitely wore off. And yes, it is *expensive* for a large breed dog!

    I don't know specifically what was tested for thyroid, though I can ask. Depression/anxiety as a potential hypothyroid symptom is why the vet started him on it (even though the "typical" hypothyroid thing is more like hair loss and the like). He has been tested a total of 3 times since June; once where it was low, once after ~30 days of medication (and they doubled the dose), and once in December (and the levels were apparently normal). So, he's on that ... but I can ask about which level(s) were tested.

    The pink nose thing - yes, that was quite curious. It pinkened somewhat early on (around 2 years old, or something). It drastically turned to where there's more pink then black, though, since he started having issues; that seems ... remarkably coincidental. I looked up the vitiligo thing, and it doesn't seem like he has other symptoms of it... although, the skin on his belly and other areas has changed color in the past, too (darkened, I think). At the time, I believe it was chalked up to staph infections (and a reaction to one of the antibiotics that he was on for the infection). I have definitely been trying to look up various autoimmune disease symptoms, but so far, nothing that would involve a pinkening of the nose fits the rest of his symptoms... at least not that I've found, so far.

    "Much more of an indoor dog" - what does that actually look like? For Benaiah, he's always wanted to sometimes be inside, but by and large, he would want to be outside. Even as a new puppy, we "forced" him to be in the kitchen the first night; where he wanted to be was outside on the front step, ha. =) I understand that things can change, of course... but I'm curious what that looks like if they don't get what they want? The very strong symptoms of anxiety seem like a strange response. I could see moping and acting depressed.

    Also confusing to us is that even while he's inside, he seems to sleep all the time, not really eat or drink a whole lot, doesn't enjoy the things he normally does - or at least not as much (playing outside, going on walks, etc.), etc. He doesn't - usually, other than during the very extreme time near Christmas - tend to have anxiety, but still acts ... very different. And then, days like today, back to normal I've tried to correlate it to regular walks/exercise, eating, time spent with him, etc., and have come up short. Both times he's gone back to "normal," he definitely eats way more.

    Oh, one other random thing. When he seems to not be feeling well ... when he goes down to lay down, he "thuds" a lot harder than normal. It's always a bit of an ordeal, lowering 120lbs of dog down onto the floor ... but normally, it's fairly graceful and doesn't make a lot of noise. More recently, it makes a much louder thud than normal. Coincidence? Who knows... ha.

    We get a lot of wind in the summer; regularly, around 4pm, we'll have a 8-12mph wind that's fairly steady. We live in a spot that's inland, but we get a coastal breeze come through a valley in the coastal mountain range. I know wind and/or storms HAVE been a trigger in the past, but again ... not consistently. And for a couple months last summer (August to October ish, I think), Benaiah overall was okay. We figured it must have been the thyroid medication working. And when he did have anxiety, he would work it out - outside - after about 20-30 minutes. I started to try to track wind and anxiety, and it seemed to correlate loosely, but not necessarily consistently. Overall, that seems to more be an additive sort of trigger than the root cause.

    Which I can understand ... things kinda bother you but whatever; but if it all bothers you at once, there's some threshold where you just want to curl up inside and sleep until things get better...

    Thanks for reading, sorry for the novels.

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