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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24426
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Can you please tell me what the cost is? I have an 18 month

Customer Question

Can you please tell me what the cost is for assistance?
I have an 18 month old ShiTzu/Pomeranian mix puppy. She is very scared and shakes whenever there is a great deal of thunder and lightning. I have tried the "thunder shirt" but it does nothing to help her. I try to keep her in the most quiet place in my home but when the rain hits the sky lights it is very loud. My vet gave me 2 mg Valium tablets and told
me to give her one at the onset of a storm if I know it is going to be one that is going to be for any length of time.
I gave her one at 8 A.M. this morning and here it is almost 6:00 P.M. and she will not stand on her legs, if I put her down she just collapses on the floor. She is looking straight up at me and her eyes are not closed however she is not responding to me calling her name or "coming to me as she usually does when I do certain things. Do you think I should take her to the vet. By the way she is not a big water drinker and I have tried giving her water
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. I know that Gracie has recovered from the Valium dosing which can range from 0.25- 1 mg/lb in dogs. Gracie appears to have been oversensitive to that benzodiazepine and so it should be avoided in the future. Here's my synopsis about thunderstorm phobia which might allow you to manage her without drug therapy...

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. 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 Gracie when a mild storm occurs, it may be helpful to distract her and then have a "thunderstorm party". When she begins to show mild anxiety, you should ignore her and make an unusual noise (squeaker, whistle, tap table top, crinkle paper, clicker, e.g.) so she orients to the new sound and stops acting anxious. After about 10 seconds or more, but before she 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 Gracie to eat. Unless the storm becomes strong enough to make her fearful and take her focus away from you and the food, the "party" will serve as a counterconditioning session.

As for anxiolytic drugs...the benzodiazepines (alprazolam, chlorazepam, 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) - not diazepam (Valium) - 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 Gracie's sake.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It appears that when I was not looking Gracie took a fall off a recliner in my Family Room and that is why she was collapsing. I had to bring her to the Emergency Vet because the falling was so severe and it was not the Vallium that was causing the falling. I am sorry that you did not answer me for three days because if you did I could have told you more about the collapsing and it may have saved me close to $700.00.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I understand.

You may receive an inappropriate follow up sent by the site ostensibly sent by me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.