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smanimalvet
smanimalvet, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1106
Experience:  Practicing vet with focus on advanced medicine and surgery.
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I have an 11 year old shih tzu who has some major anxiety issues.

Customer Question

I have an 11 year old shih tzu who has some major anxiety issues. There have been many changes in the past 4 years including him becoming paralyzed in the back legs, moving and adding a baby to our family. In addition to the anxiety, he is agressive. Now that our son is 2 we have to keep our dog gated in a separate room. I walk him once a day, recently had a behaviorist give us tips, and give him 10-20 mg of clomicalm daily. His anxiety has become so bad that he has diarrhea, pants, paces and barks constantly. No one is experiencing a good quality of life right now. Is there hope for our situation? Suggestions for a next step?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  smanimalvet replied 2 years ago.

Hi There-

I am glad to her that you contacted a behaviorist but unfortunately it sounds like that isn't working the greatest. I do have some other options of things that you can try for anxiety. Most behaviorists recommend not using just one medication to treat anxiety. They actually recommend using 2-3 different approaches in each case of severe anxiety.

It doesn't sound like that clomicalm worked too well. We often have to give any medication at least a month before we make the decision that it is working but in this case it sounds like it has actually become worse. Clomicalm is a tricyclic anti-depressant so that means we should stay away from this class of medications. Other options include.

1. Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Prozac is probably the most often one of these we use. It is available in a veterinary approved form called Reconcile

2. Benzodiazapines: We often use Alprazolam (Xanax) in dogs in combination with either clomicalm or reconcile. This acts on another pathway.

3. MAOi's: Sometimes the change in behavior can actually be cause by canine cognitive dysfunction. This is a syndrome in older dogs that is similar to senility in people.

4. Thunder Shirts: These you can purchase online and are 100% guaranteed so if it doesn't work, you can send it back. Sometimes these can work wonders.

5. DAP: DAP stands for dog appeasing pheromone. It comes in collars or in diffusers which both emit a calming pheromone that is supposed to be effective in dogs.

So, as you can see, there are many other options and actually they are not that expensive. the next step for me would be to combine 1 and 2 and add in either 4 or 5. If those don't work then try number 3. Again, you have to do multiple different medications at the same time to really see the ultimate effect and we know that, just like in people, some dogs respond better to different medications. And we need to give them about a month to start really working.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any further questions!

smanimalvet, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1106
Experience: Practicing vet with focus on advanced medicine and surgery.
smanimalvet and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  smanimalvet replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kathy,

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

smanimalvet
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for following up. I have not been able to get into our vet yet, but when I do I will ask about the other med options. What kind of dosage of Alprazolam is recommended? He is only 14 lbs. Do we have to be concerned about effects of the kidney with additional meds?
I forgot about DAP. We did also try that with no luck. I may look into trying the Thundershirt as well. The barking is starting to make us all a bit cranky!
Thanks!
Expert:  smanimalvet replied 2 years ago.
Alprazolam has a pretty wide dosage, depending upon the degree on anxiety, I usually start with a middle dose and go up if need be. Alprazolam should have no effect on the kidneys. I hope it works!

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