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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24432
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Gooood morning!!! thank you...i have a golden retriever that

Customer Question

gooood morning!!! thank you...i have a golden retriever that has high anxiety with thunderstorms...have tried pet ease...didn't work...vet suggested benedryl...didn't work...any suggestions...he is very dangerous to himself...likes to go through windows...
higher dose of benedryl?he is 100 pounds...gave him 2 pills before...
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
You mustn't dose Benadryl at greater than 50 mg at any one time and Benadryl isn't a good choice for Duke in any event.
Poor Duke! Many noise phobias can be managed successfully with behavioral modification. The prognosis varies greatly depending on the individual, the duration of the phobia, the ability to control strong stimuli during treatment, and the success in finding an effective, controllable artificial stimulus to use during exposure exercises. Behavior modification (other than my "thunderstorm party" mentioned below) is best done under the guidance of a specialist veterinary behaviorist as can be found here: www.dacvb.com.
Successful treatment of thunderstorm phobias using only behavioral modification can be very difficult because of the presence of multiple stimuli, difficulty producing an effective artificial storm for desensitization, and inability to control naturally occurring stimuli during therapy.
If you're home with Duke when a mild storm occurs, it may be helpful to distract him and then have a "thunderstorm party". When he begins to show mild anxiety, you should ignore him and make an unusual noise (squeaker, whistle, tap table top, crinkle paper, clicker, e.g.) so he orients to the new sound and stops acting anxious. After about 10 seconds or more, but before he begins acting anxious again, you should jump up, run to the kitchen, and grab a handful of meat or cheese treats. Next, you should run through the house acting very animated, saying happy things loudly in an upbeat tone and tossing food about for Duke to eat. Unless the storm becomes strong enough to make him fearful and take his focus away from you and the food, the "party" will serve as a counterconditioning session.
As for anxiolytic drugs...the benzodiazepines (alprazolam, clorazepate, lorazepam, e.g.) and tricyclic antidepressants (e.g. clomipramine and amitriptyline) may be helpful for difficult cases. The benzodiazepines are the best choice to use on an as-needed basis, and alprazolam (Xanax) may prove to be the most potent for panic-type responses, although its duration of effect may only be a couple of hours. Tricyclic antidepressants may take several weeks or more to become effective and are probably best reserved for chronic problems. A dose of benzodiazepine may also be added to the tricyclics on an as-needed bases an hour or two before a storm is expected. Other options are the use of D.A.P. (Adaptil/Dog Appeasing Pheromone), buspirone, or a phenothiazine tranquilizer (Acepromazine) given 1-3 hours prior to an anticipated storm (which doesn't reduce anxiety but may be sufficiently sedating to avoid the problem entirely).
Nevermind others who think you look silly running around the house throwing food about. Tell them you don't care what you look like. It's for Duke's sake. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Duke. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin