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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9105
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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My poor shihtzu flybites so bad. I've taken him to 3 vets

Customer Question

My poor shihtzu flybites so bad. I've taken him to 3 vets including a neurologist. No-one can help him. It's so bad that he hides under my bed a lot of the time. He started an antianxiety a week ago and he is no better. We've tried keppra thinking maybe seizures, didn't change anything. I'm desperate for answers!
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Hello, JACustomer. I have been a Veterinary Nurse for over 15 years and would be happy to help you today. I'm reviewing your question right now.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Hi, Sharon. Can you give me some additional info?

1) What medications are you giving currently and how long has Henri been on them?
2) What medications have been tried and how long was he on them?
3) When did this begin?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Henry's currently on amitriptyline. He's been in it for one week. He took keppra for about a month. The neurology vet did not think it was seizures but was willing to try the meds for a time. He was on Prozac for 1 month, stomach meds for 3 weeks (just experimenting to see if this was his issue). I almost think his OCD flybiting has been worse in the last few days. It's so extreme that he stands on his back legs snapping and eventually runs under the bed and hides.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
This began when he was about 1 year old.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

I'm curious if any medications have been tried longer than the 3-4 week time frame? Typically most companies recommend 6 weeks on the medication before judging how well it will work for the companion.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Nothing except maybe the keppra was tried for that long. I am going to continue with the amitriptyline long term. The vet I take him to says we should have seen something different after a few weeks. Maybe not full improvement, but some improvement. We have a plan now to keep him in this current meds for atleast 6 weeks, but he's never seen a flybiter like my dog.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Have you had experience with this type of OCD?
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

I agree with your vet, though I thought I'd share that tidbit of info, as well. I've seen some very strange behavioral abnormalities. The last fly biter that I saw was a German Shorthair Pointer who had a history of ticks. A tick panel eventually revealed that he had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Medications that I have seen work that you may want to talk to your vet/neurologist about include: Sertraline, Buspar and Propanolol. I have also seen some benefit from gabapentin in dogs with suspect behavioral issues who might also be having seizures. If nothing else, it gives you something to chat with your vets about if these haven't been tried yet.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Well Henry has never had ticks. He is regularly groomed and our yard is kept. And we live in Texas where I'm not sure that's even a thing. I will discuss the meds with my doctor and if you have any other advice I would love to hear it.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Texas is actually moderately afflicted by RMSF cases. Is there any chance that Henri had ticks before you owned him?

Has your vet discussed a CT scan yet to see if they can find anything abnormal within the brain which might be causing the symptoms?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I have had Henry since he was 4 months old. He is now 6. He had a thorough neurological exam and the specialist saw no need for an expensive test. He has zero signs of anything other than OCD. He has been examined by 3 vets. No eye floaters. Henri has had the occasional flea, but have never found a tick on any dog we have owned in 13 years in our current home. Shocking for Texas I know! He's had blood work, stomach xrays..
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

I'm impressed considering it's Texas and warm practically 80% of the year, longer if you're further south. Know that a single tick bite prior to your ownership could certainly cause a medical issue like RMSF. It would not hurt to have him checked.

Can you clarify "expensive tests"? Has he had any bloodwork by your vet or the specialist? Any other diagnostics? If not, I think you've reached a point where it's time. As you say, you're desperate for answers but getting nowhere. That's when it's time to reach for the expensive tests which may well be able to give you answers.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
He has had blood work, yes. I asked for a full workup. Bmp, cbc and liver function I think that's it. All normal. He eats and drinks well. He does exhibit other symptoms of anxiety. Loud noises, doorbell, strangers all get him riled up. The neuro said that since everything checked out with Henry, there was no need for a ct. His motor skills,etc are all fine. I paid $300 for that visit so I hope she was thorough!
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

If Henri was my dog, I'd have a recheck performed with the neurologist and push for more options. I'd be a bit shocked if the neurologist professed to be "stumped" but didn't push forward for more diagnostics. The more advanced testing is often what we reach for when we have no explanation for why an animal is not improving with conventional methods of treatment. My suspicion is that the neurologist intended to convey that they felt fine trying some medications since the neuro eval was normal, along with bloodwork, but that they did want to see you back if he continued to not respond to treatment. I don't think it's fair to yourself or Henri to not pursue those diagnostics knowing they may well lead to an answer for his behavior.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.


Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Checking in. How is Henri?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Still on the amatriptolyne, still flybiting. However, yesterday I started forximh him outside Where I let him loose on our are. He trotted around a bit and filled his senses. I also have him a kong twice. This really helped the extreme flybiting.
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 5 months ago.

Glad to hear it. Keep me posted if I can help further or you have additional questions.