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Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23796
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My dog pit/lab mix seems at time to star off in space. Also

Customer Question

Hello There,
My dog pit/lab mix seems at time to star off in space. Also increasing licking front paws, bitting the air, staring at the ceiling with wide eyes, almost like he see something, shakes his head and runs like he's scared. He will run to me then eventually under the bed. Currently eating normal and behaves normal except doing this time. These session have now increased to daily. I'm afraid its going to cause him to go insane!
Please help with any suggestions. I was told the vet could be him on fluoxetine 40mg. This worries me after reading all the major side affects. We have another dog which they get along but hear the meds could make him aggressive. Should I seek out a nuro-vet?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

Robert, you've described obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in Macon Lee - mood/behavioral disorders characterized by repetitive, invariant, patterned behaviors that are exaggerated in intensity, frquency, and duration given the inciting stimuli (i.e., expressed out of context). The behavior interferes with health and well-being. Earlier in the course you may have been able to stop the behavior, but that may not be the case at this time. Macon Lee may hide (to perform the behavior), become aggressive when you attempt to stop it, or may begin avoiding you.

His staring and biting at the air may suggest partial seizures or dysphoria (a state of unease) and so, yes, consultation with a specialist veterinary neurologist (please see here: should be considered. All cases of OCD warrant intervention which is individualized and based on frequency and severity of clinical signs. Treatment is usually a combination of behavioral and environmental modification and psychotropic medication. The goal is to minimize and if possible eliminate bouts of compulsive behavior and the concomitant anxious states that accompany them.

In general, we need to identify and eliminate trigger events/situations. No punishment should ever be used since it can heighten anxiety and worsen the problem. If possible, these pets can be redirected to an alternative and incompatible behavior such as licking food from a toy instead of licking the skin if the redirection doesn't make the pet more anxious. Pets should be calmly rewarded for any spontaneous calm behavior. Keeping a structured daily routine helps decrease anxiety. The most successful medications used in the tratment of OCD in people include SSRIs such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and clomipramine (Clomicalm). Typically, psychotropic therapy is necessary for longer periods of time than other anxiety-based disorders (months to years depending upon severity and how long the disorder has been ongoing). Lifelong medication use isn't unusual in severe cases.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.
Hi Robert,

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

Dr. Michael Salkin