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Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16584
Experience:  Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology.
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My 8 year old lab is acting odd - it started she would

Customer Question

my 8 year old lab is acting odd - it started she would always follow and sleep with me. Now she is sleeping downstairs by our back door (attached to the garage). She comes up in the am to snuggle before I get up. Last couple days however, she is staying by the back door more frequently.....she is shaking and trembling....she has always had episodes. She's acting almost like she does during 4th of July and people are lighting fireworks. (Same place she hides).
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the dog. What is the dog's name?
Customer: It's not's more of anxiety.
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about the dog?
Customer: I took her for blood work just over a year ago....had some concerns she was paniting alot during the summer. blood tests went great...everything checked out great.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  CVT_in_MN replied 11 months ago.

Hello! My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question. Just like an in person consult, I have some questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible.

So she only act odd in the evenings?

Has anything changed in the house at all?

Could there be anything outside that is causing her to be anxious?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
the evening is when it is occurring with the exception of this am. I took her outside to the bathroom and another dog starting barking at her, she ran into the house when she finished and went back to her spot. About 1 hour or so later she came out and joined the rest of the family. Over the last two years we have noticed she was more fearful of loud noises on a walk if she hears a loud car/gun shot (we live near woods) she would want to turn around to go home or gets anxious when we have large group of family/friends over. Seems like it is getting worse - there isn't necessarily a significant trigger and she isolates from all of us. No, changes I can think of occurred - nothing I can think of outside either.
Expert:  CVT_in_MN replied 11 months ago.

When she's acting fearful, what do you do?

Is she easily startled in the house?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
We have tried petting, talking to her, cuddling with her. Persuading her out of the area with treats. And we typically end up letting her be and she will eventually come out. Not really easily in the house. But she does still separate herself at night and refuses to come upstairs to sleep with us. She also at night will try to not go outside unless she really has to
Expert:  CVT_in_MN replied 11 months ago.

Great. Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

From your description, I can't help but wonder if your dog doesn't have the beginnings of something like Cognitive Dysfunction going on. Some middle aged or older dogs get a little anxious at night for reasons we really don't understand. At our clinic we refer to it as 'sundowning', where the animal is fine all day, but then becomes restless and agitated or fearful/anxious at night.

Some vets refer to it as geriatric cognitive dysfunction, and you can find more information here:

One thing you could do is talk to your vet about what they recommend for anxiety/dysfunction in dogs. I know there are some mainstream drugs that we often use such as Acepromazine or Clomicalm, and some dogs even respond well to something you can buy over-the-counter, like Melatonin.

Another option would be something to help with the anxiety that doesn't have to be ingested (eaten), so it wouldn't interfere with any other medictions they want to try. I love using the DAP collar:

These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

I've used the DAP collar in my own dogs and with some of the dogs I've rehabilitated and I really, really like the results. Just keep in mind that the collar only lasts for 30 days, so you'll have to replace it monthly if it works for you.

I hope this helps.