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Yet another Thunderphobia thread.


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#1 Devi

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 06:57 AM

It has been storming every day or every other day all summer and my dog's thunderphobia gets worse with EVERY storm. My other dogs are starting to be affected by his behavior. Three of my other dogs acted like storms were no big deal before they spent time with panicky Chaos during a storm. Now they're all somewhat nervous and I do not want to wind up with a house FULL of thunderphobic dogs, so it's time for me to do something about it.

He has always panted and looked at the ceiling during a storm. He acts like he cannot hear you if you speak to him or give him commands. He does out of character things, like trying to cross on top of a table to get to you from a couch to a chair on the other side of the table, instead of getting off the couch and walking over to the chair.

When he first came to live with me, at three and a half years old, he'd be perfectly fine if he could sit at your feet during a storm. He'd be fine if you crated him during the storm. He would stay if you went in another room for a few minutes. He would eat and be distracted by food (I would usually make him a Kong or give him a bone.) If you were asleep and it started storming and he was sleeping with you, he would just go back to sleep.

During those days I mostly ignored his behavior. I never reinforced it. It seemed to make it worse, not better. I'd play with him and act like nothing was wrong but as soon as I stopped playing with him his anxiety would be right back.

Then he started wanting to be petted every few minutes during a storm. This got worse and worse until he'd smash your hand against whatever you were sitting by trying to get you to pet him. He started freaking out if you left the room, following closely. He started to stop and lay down if you headed toward his crate, acting petrified. He stopped wanting to eat unless encouraged. He is a chow hound. I started spraying a spray bottle and blowing bubbles in the house to distract him from the storm, but you can only do that for so long, and when storms last hours...

Now if you are sleeping and he is in bed with you, he will, while lying beside you, shove paws in your face and claw you until you wake up. He sometimes does this on a normal day, just once or twice, if you're petting him and stop. But when he's panicky, he won't give up. And then if you even think about crating him, he shakes all over. He now wants to be practically on top of you. He freaks out if you leave him alone in a room or a crate.

I would never have labeled him as a dog who would destroy things if I left him alone six months ago. Yesterday I left the house and left C loose in my room, like I usually do. I believe it stormed while I was gone and he tore down two sets of blinds and literally ate them-- not one of the blinds wasn't split in half with bite marks on it or bent. He destroyed some other things as well, and there are claw marks on the doors.

I am scared for my boy-- he panics, his heart races, he pants and pants and pants, he spaces out (won't even look at you. he makes sure to stay next to you but never actually focuses on you)... and this has all become so much more serious in such a short amount of time.

I give him the HomeoPet anxiety drops, but they don't seem to work much. I am going to the vet today so I can hopefully get him a prescription. I know I do not want to use Acepromazine. Any input?? I have not tried anxiety wraps but he needs something NOW. We were supposed to go to the dog show today but he is terrified and it looks like the weather isn't going to lighten up. I know there are a million threads on this and I have read them all... I am just looking for input on my dog's paticular situation.

#2 Pipedream Farm

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 08:21 AM

GO TO A VET!!!!!
Better still find a behavioral vet specialist.

You want anti-anxiety drugs: diazepam, alprazolam, amitriptyline, etc.

The longer you put it off, the longer you deny drugs are needed, the worse your dog will get. It can get VERY VERY BAD!

Also separate this dog from your others in an attempt to minimize the impact on them; they are feeling your stress and your dog's stress.

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#3 urge to herd

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 09:22 AM

What Mark said. If you can't get to a behavioral specialist right away, find a vet who will prescribe the anti-anxiety meds at least short term. If it means finding another vet, do it. Then get him to a behavioral specialist for long term help.

I've had full blown panic attacks - I wouldn't wish them on any one. You're right to be scared for him, and your instinct to do something NOW is right on.

Good luck, please let us know how you get on. If you need a quick reference, Dr. Lore Haug (sp) is at A&M and is an exellent vet. You could start there, she might be able to refer you to someone closer.

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#4 Devi

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 12:47 PM

THANK YOU so much for the advice. I will be heading to the vet ASAP.

#5 bc4pack

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 08:43 AM

I know I'm late on this but I'm in Houston too... with a storm-phobic dog...
CHANT WITH ME....XANAX, XANAX, XANAX !!!!!!!!

Xanax also lasts longer than Valium... so if you've got an idea that we've got a severe storm popping
up, or like that nasty thing we had day before yesterday, you can give a dose and it'll work for about
10 hrs ( more or less).

I'm glad you read through that storm phobia thread. Take it from one who KNOWS.
We need to take care of their minds as well as their bodies.

Tara

PS One thing you can also try is to take your dog for a drive during a storm. Sounds goofy but vehicles act
like Faraday boxes.... basically a dog feels insulated from electricity... I realized back in the Spring during one
of our REALLY bad storms,y'know HELLACIOUS lightning all over, the 4 inches/hour stuff... well I was driving,
at night, north on the Eastex, lightning popping transformers left and right, and my Molly with no meds in
her system was sleeping like a newborn pup! She'd actually sit up, take a look around then lay back down with a
RELAXED and even contented sigh. If a dog is strictly noise phobic this probably won't work.
My dog is sensitive to pressure changes and to electricity in the air.

BTW, Dr N Dodman's book 'Dogs Behaving Badly' has got some info that you may want to look at plus Dr Karen Overall articles.

#6 Little Bo Boop

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 10:28 AM

I pm'd Devi as well, but I have had really good luck with Melatonin. I have a young male Border Collie who was fine with noises, fire works thunder etc...until about the age of 2 yrs. then sudden onset phobia, to include Motorcycles :D even if he hears one on TV, we were watching the Terminator the other night, Mike hooked it out of the room :rolleyes: . For thunderstorms I just give him one 3mg melatonin and within a very short time he's pretty chilled. I like the fact that its not a narcotic and readily available at most grocery stores. Now granted he has never been destructive, or what I would call full blown panic mode, but he would get pretty juiced....panting,pacing, jumping on your head in bed and vibrating the whole works with his trembling...with the melatonin he just goes and finds himself a spot and lays down. I'd give it a shot as it can't hurt them and it might help.

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#7 bc4pack

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 11:57 AM

I agree re: melatonin.... it definitely does help. I think that in this particular case the consistency in the manufacturing of the prescription drug, plus the severity of the anxiety really calls for the xanax.
I use melatonin prophylactically... These pop-up storms are so unpredictable and can be hit or miss.
Using xanax is something that does need oversight by a vet... it shouldn't be used day in and day out, dogs
may have to be weaned off in that situation...
Melatonin is safe and can be used daily. Definitely worth trying...some dogs get amazing results, some don't
get any relief at all... some are helped marginally. The problem that I run into is that melatonin benefits only
last a few hours , say 3 or 4, and some of these storms we've been having can be just round, after round, after
round...

So yep, I use both... when there's a chance of 'isolated or scattered t-storms', I give melatonin...
when there's a 'we're fixing to get hammered!!!' out comes the Xanax.

#8 SoloRiver

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 01:12 PM

Hi Devi, if you already read through the other threads then you know what works for me and Solo. Let us know how it goes.

In my experience, melatonin and anxiety wraps (in Solo's case a tight T-shirt as I am not about to shell out $70 for basically the same thing) did nothing at all. I also think it's quite possible for a dog to learn the association between storms or other stressful situations and anxiety wraps, so unless you're willing to keep your dog wrapped most of the time I don't see how they can make a difference and I can see how they would make a dog worse.

Chaos' situation is unfortunately extremely typical of storm phobia, his behaviors are all typical and it is usual that phobias become worse over time unless treated. You are right to get him veterinary help. If there is a veterinary behaviorist nearby, please contact that person. Let us know how it goes.
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#9 Devi

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 08:28 PM

Alright, here's an update. The melatonin doesn't seem to be helping. To be honest, we thought it was going to storm last night so we dosed him, and then all the clouds promptly disappeared. We were watching a movie later that night (within a few hours), and it stormed during the movie, and he went nuts like he would during a real storm. The melatonin seemed to have no obvious effect. So we are off to the vet's as soon as possible. Thanks for the PMs. We did give him the melatonin, covered his crate and put a thunderstorm-proof dog in a crate next to him (the only side that was uncovered), and left him with old clothing while we were at the dog show today. It didn't storm, so we don't know if it did any good. The Xanax does sound like the way to go. We'll see, and I'll be sure to update this thread.

#10 nancy in AZ

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 12:53 PM

I just wanted to add that my vet was reluctant to prescribe Xanax for Minnie due to her liver issues. I asked him if diphenhydramine (benadryl) would be OK to administer and he felt that would be fine. In her case it's been working well. Her storm phobia is not severe, she does get very anxious when the winds that accompany the storm start to pick up. (In fact we're having a monsoon thunderstorm right now and she's sleeping peacefully with no meds).

Just to be absolutely clear, I want to emphasize you should *always* consult with your vet before administering any meds that have been discussed on an online forum. Just thought I'd mention this as a possible alternative to check with your vet on for those with liver/kidney compromised dogs.

#11 bc4pack

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 11:41 AM

Always an excellent point as far as staying in touch with your vet.

In the Great State of Texas, which is where the OP and myself are located....the vet calls in the script to your
pharmacy ( I use a local Walmart) and you will have to sign for the prescription.

Some vets are hesitant to write scripts for human meds because of concern of abuse, but
this can be where it pays off to have a vet that knows you and your dog well. Vets can also simply write a
lesser quantity of pills etc.
It is a GOOD thing to have a vet that happens to be in this century as far as behavioral med use in dogs. :rolleyes:


BTW, the closest Vet Behaviorist is Dr. Lore Haug up at TX A&M.

#12 Devi

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 12:48 PM

Update... We are still trying to get an appointment... :rolleyes: And one of my other dogs suddenly has a big lump on the side of his face! Luckily, it hasn't stormed in two days. Thank Dog!! It's really too bad that we've been switching vets over and over here, because we don't know our vet very well yet. She is, however, much, much better than the other two vets we've tried since we moved. :D We'll see if she will prescribe Xanax for Chaos or not. I can only hope it stays dry until then!

#13 Devi

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 02:39 PM

Update... Vet prescribed Ace, even after we said we definitely didn't want it. She then said there were "no other options" except for Dramamine. She said no to Xanax and Valium. I searched the boards and saw no mention of Dramamine used for thunderphobia. Any suggestions on how to continue? Should we try and find another local vet?

#14 PSmitty

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 02:51 PM

Oh, no. :rolleyes: I would NOT give him Ace. As you've probably already read, it does nothing to help a dog's anxiety, it only immobilizes him from physically reacting. I can't think of anything worse for a phobic dog. Jack got it once (not for noise phobia) and I hated what it did to him.

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#15 SoloRiver

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 02:56 PM

Yes, find another vet.

Many vets will not prescribe benzodiazepines because of the potential for human abuse. What you need to do is find a vet who trusts that you are not going to raid your dog's stash.

Do NOT give Ace -- it will make him worse. My dogs even have "no Ace" on their vet charts as I don't want them to have it for any reason, ever. There are too many good alternatives, especially for noise phobic dogs.

In your position I would probably do something like give Benadryl in the interim but since I have never done this I cannot recommend any specific dosages. Also, I am not a vet -- you really need help from a certified vet behaviorist, who will be more sympathetic to your problems.

You COULD try going back to your vet and asking if she would be willing to do a long-distance consult with a veterinary behaviorist, who will most likely recommend a benzodiazepine such as Xanax or Valium. You might also refer to Karen Overall's article on storm phobias:

http://dvm.adv100.co...l.jsp?id=136493

But if I were you I'd probably try to find another vet, ideally a behaviorist.
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#16 kaos

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Posted 25 July 2007 - 09:14 PM

I forget who always directs me to the dosing chart for antihistamines, but there is a really kind soul who has it earmarked and will save you the trouble of searching the archives. If they don't show up though, you can search the archives under benadryl/chlortriplon/antihistamine dosing chart or some other combination and you are sure to find it. For helpful starters my 50 lb mutt mix can get three benadryls three times a day (I would be on the floor drooling but she is fine with it, crazy huh?) She usually gets 2 twice a day for her allergies during ragweed season. She is generally some what stoned the first few days and then evens out and is not noticeably drugged.
Sara

#17 2 Devils

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 09:58 AM

I have that bookmarked at home. I will try and remember to post the link this evening.
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#18 nancy in AZ

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 11:35 AM

http://www.buckbasset.com/meds.htm

Here's a link, and while I am not qualified to attest to it's accuracy and still advise checking with a vet first, I can say that I give Minnie one 25mg tablet of benadryl and she weighs 24.8 lbs.

Also thought I'd mention that some time ago both Minnie and I had been prescribed the same prescription antihisitmine (hydroxyzine). The dose prescribed for me was 10mg and taking even a half would knock me on my behind. Her dose was 50 mg. I called the vet thinking there had been a mistake. The vet explained that that was indeed the correct dose for her because dogs metablolize it differently.

ETA I would also advise seeking the counsel of a vet behaviorist if your dog is suffering from severe phobia. I know from personal experience that a qualified vet/behaviorist won't hesitate giving a prescription that a general vet might be reluctant to provide.

#19 2 Devils

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 03:53 PM

I think this may be the site you referred to for dosages

http://www.utskinvet...f/antihists.pdf
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#20 Rave

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 04:07 PM

Just a comment... It's been a blessing not having to deal with this since moving to Seattle, where it MAYBE T-storms twice a year, and even then, it's nothing like storms back east. It's so rare, it makes the news everytime it happens. So if you have a thunderphobic dog and are looking to move, check the PAC-NW. :-)


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