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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone have any Fluoxetine success stories they can share? How soon did you see results? I was told it can take 1-2 months, I'm hoping to hear from others experience. We have a 1.5yr old border heeler. He's always been skittish, but in the last couple of months its like a switch flipped and He's afraid of everything. The pandemic didn't help either. We met with a behaviorist and our vet who both said medication can really make a difference. I'm willing to be patient. Jjst feeling quite down today and really anxious myself about it as he was terrified at my mom's house today even though he's been there in the past (prob months ago though, and loud noises now as its nice out). Its frustrating also being around people who don't recognize his anxious body language. Now I'm feeling bad for taking him and wondering what life is gonna be like for all of us if it doesn't help. Gratuitous pic of him snuggling this morning.
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I'm sorry you're going through this, but commend you for taking action and working with a vet to get him help. It is going to take time for any anxiety medication to 'on board' and reach its peak effectiveness, and sometimes it takes some tweaking of dosage and type of medication before you find what works best, so patience is definitely key! It may help to journal about his behaviors so you can look back and identify small improvements more easily, if you're the journaling type.

I strongly suggest you have a read through another thread on here, Medicating Molly, about a border collie in a similar age range to yours when she was started on Fluoxetine (several years ago now). The member is no longer very active here, but does occasionally come back to update or respond to that thread, so you can get an idea of how things worked for her and the kind of progress she had. I say 'had' because she was successfully weaned off medication last year, and seems to be doing well! Some dogs do need medicating their whole lives, and it's worth it if it provides them good quality of life, but being medicated also helps dogs learn coping skills and helps them understand that the world is less scary/threatening than they thought, especially if you actively work with them on behavior modification around their anxiety triggers, once they're medicated and can handle it.

Wishing you lots of luck - and you're definitely not alone!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm sorry you're going through this, but commend you for taking action and working with a vet to get him help. It is going to take time for any anxiety medication to 'on board' and reach its peak effectiveness, and sometimes it takes some tweaking of dosage and type of medication before you find what works best, so patience is definitely key! It may help to journal about his behaviors so you can look back and identify small improvements more easily, if you're the journaling type.

I strongly suggest you have a read through another thread on here, Medicating Molly, about a border collie in a similar age range to yours when she was started on Fluoxetine (several years ago now). The member is no longer very active here, but does occasionally come back to update or respond to that thread, so you can get an idea of how things worked for her and the kind of progress she had. I say 'had' because she was successfully weaned off medication last year, and seems to be doing well! Some dogs do need medicating their whole lives, and it's worth it if it provides them good quality of life, but being medicated also helps dogs learn coping skills and helps them understand that the world is less scary/threatening than they thought, especially if you actively work with them on behavior modification around their anxiety triggers, once they're medicated and can handle it.

Wishing you lots of luck - and you're definitely not alone!
Thanks I will definitely read through that post! I need all the encouragement I can get!
 

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We also used fluoxetine for our seriously anxious aussie/lab mix rescue (with encouragement from the "Medicating Molly" thread!) It did take a month or two for it to help, but it really, really did. Once she hit about 7-8 months old, our girl was afraid to go ANYWHERE that wasn't our house. She didn't enjoy walks, car rides, going to the park...nothing. It was pathetic to watch, honestly. Pure panic. Hers was mostly noise related phobia, and once she associated a certain place with one loud noise (distant gunshot, car door slam, truck driving by, unexpected thunderstorm, someone dropping something etc...) she never wanted to go there again. She also has a weird phobia of things above her...treehouses in trees, birds on telephone wires, umbrellas on neighbors decks etc. She even got spooked by the moon one night. 🙄 We stopped taking her places, she got to play fetch in the yard, and brain games in the house, but we rarely even took her for a walk because she just couldn't handle it. It was so hard to watch her terrified doing something that dogs are supposed to love! I finally asked our vet about meds, and she confirmed that it was worth a try.

She didn't have any significant side effects of the fluoxetine, just a bit more sedate than normal. Luckily, even with all her unstableness, she's super sweet and friendly to all people and other dogs, and that didn't change. After about two months on the meds, I took her for a walk around the block which usually resulted in a tucked tail, circling and pulling with all her might to get home. She was more relaxed, and actually paying attention to me and taking treats! She hadn't done that since she was a little puppy before the anxiety started. I just about cried! She really did improve noticeably, to the point where she is now mostly normal. She's still very sensitive to noises, but she recovers much more quickly (minutes as opposed to hours or days before). She very rarely goes into full on panic mode anymore.

Even on the meds, she still had trouble with thunderstorms and fireworks, and we tried stronger meds for that but they made no difference. She was on fluoxetine for about 1.5 years (2 years old-3 1/2years old) and we weaned her off it last fall. She did great over the winter (no storms) and so far she's doing pretty well this spring. She is still not a normal dog. She will never be a dog we can take lots of places and do lots of things. But her improvement was huge, and she's happier and a little more sane now. She loves to be at home and she likes walks and runs on a quiet trail near our house, so we pretty much leave it at that. If she started significantly regressing to her old panicky ways, I'd put her back on the fluoxetine in a heartbeat...that's not good quality of life for a pup. My only regret is that we waited so long to do it.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We also used fluoxetine for our seriously anxious aussie/lab mix rescue (with encouragement from the "Medicating Molly" thread!) It did take a month or two for it to help, but it really, really did. Once she hit about 7-8 months old, our girl was afraid to go ANYWHERE that wasn't our house. She didn't enjoy walks, car rides, going to the park...nothing. It was pathetic to watch, honestly. Pure panic. Hers was mostly noise related phobia, and once she associated a certain place with one loud noise (distant gunshot, car door slam, truck driving by, unexpected thunderstorm, someone dropping something etc...) she never wanted to go there again. She also has a weird phobia of things above her...treehouses in trees, birds on telephone wires, umbrellas on neighbors decks etc. She even got spooked by the moon one night. 🙄 We stopped taking her places, she got to play fetch in the yard, and brain games in the house, but we rarely even took her for a walk because she just couldn't handle it. It was so hard to watch her terrified doing something that dogs are supposed to love! I finally asked our vet about meds, and she confirmed that it was worth a try.

She didn't have any significant side effects of the fluoxetine, just a bit more sedate than normal. Luckily, even with all her unstableness, she's super sweet and friendly to all people and other dogs, and that didn't change. After about two months on the meds, I took her for a walk around the block which usually resulted in a tucked tail, circling and pulling with all her might to get home. She was more relaxed, and actually paying attention to me and taking treats! She hadn't done that since she was a little puppy before the anxiety started. I just about cried! She really did improve noticeably, to the point where she is now mostly normal. She's still very sensitive to noises, but she recovers much more quickly (minutes as opposed to hours or days before). She very rarely goes into full on panic mode anymore.

Even on the meds, she still had trouble with thunderstorms and fireworks, and we tried stronger meds for that but they made no difference. She was on fluoxetine for about 1.5 years (2 years old-3 1/2years old) and we weaned her off it last fall. She did great over the winter (no storms) and so far she's doing pretty well this spring. She is still not a normal dog. She will never be a dog we can take lots of places and do lots of things. But her improvement was huge, and she's happier and a little more sane now. She loves to be at home and she likes walks and runs on a quiet trail near our house, so we pretty much leave it at that. If she started significantly regressing to her old panicky ways, I'd put her back on the fluoxetine in a heartbeat...that's not good quality of life for a pup. My only regret is that we waited so long to do it.

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She is beautiful!! Thank you for sharing. I'll admit, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all this. His slight fears just turned into overwhelming fears. He sounds very similar to your pup. Noises are huge for him. A new tapping noise sets him off barking. He's always barking at birds outside, and even a helicopter yesterday (probably good he didnt retreat?). It is so hard to watch. We got him out for a walk a couple weeks ago and of course a loud truck/trailer had to come by and he just shut down and had to be carried most the way home. Usually he will recover for noises at home within 10min. But I even see him getting nervous now around our 6yr old and they were best buds when he was a puppy. Our behaviorist gave us a few things to work on while the meds take effect - focus and touch game, lots of frozen treats for licking, and getting bones for chewing. It's hard because I thought this would be the dog we could do more stuff with and be a normal dog (our other pup has IBD and allergies, but she is the best dog ever!) And this one has been stressful since day 1. I hate to say, but I do regret getting another dog at times. And its hard our extended family just doesn't understand.
 

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I understand your frustration! We wanted to train Kaia to be a therapy dog...she has the PERFECT personality...IF she's in a place she's comfortable. But considering she's almost never comfortable going new places, I gave up on that a long time ago. I have to check myself often as I almost get resentful toward her for not being normal. But, I know its not her fault, and she has so many great qualities that I have to constantly remind myself of. We have two other dogs who are normal, go-anywhere, do-anything dogs, and its hard to leave Kaia out of those things sometimes, but I know she's more comfortable staying home in certain situations.

Your truck-trailer story sounds just like Kaia...she hates those things! It made me think of when we were on vacation a couple summers ago in Duluth, MN (a fairly touristy area, lots going on, people everywhere) and we took a chance and brought Kaia with to walk around for the day. I was thinking we'd have to cut our time short and leave because of her...but she surprised us, and actually did great (she had been on her meds for about 6 mo at this point). We were walking down the street at one point, and all these biker guys came out of a restaurant and got on their parked motorcycles, and they all started them up just as we were walking by with our dogs 😫 I thought Kaia would be done for, and she did get startled, but she recovered really quickly and we went on with our walk! We were so surprised...she would have never been able to do that before. That was huge, and we knew for sure her meds were helping.

So stick with it, try and keep your dog out of scary situations until the meds have taken full effect, then go VERY slowly and at his pace 😀 He'll hopefully learn the world isn't so scary!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I understand your frustration! We wanted to train Kaia to be a therapy dog...she has the PERFECT personality...IF she's in a place she's comfortable. But considering she's almost never comfortable going new places, I gave up on that a long time ago. I have to check myself often as I almost get resentful toward her for not being normal. But, I know its not her fault, and she has so many great qualities that I have to constantly remind myself of. We have two other dogs who are normal, go-anywhere, do-anything dogs, and its hard to leave Kaia out of those things sometimes, but I know she's more comfortable staying home in certain situations.

Your truck-trailer story sounds just like Kaia...she hates those things! It made me think of when we were on vacation a couple summers ago in Duluth, MN (a fairly touristy area, lots going on, people everywhere) and we took a chance and brought Kaia with to walk around for the day. I was thinking we'd have to cut our time short and leave because of her...but she surprised us, and actually did great (she had been on her meds for about 6 mo at this point). We were walking down the street at one point, and all these biker guys came out of a restaurant and got on their parked motorcycles, and they all started them up just as we were walking by with our dogs 😫 I thought Kaia would be done for, and she did get startled, but she recovered really quickly and we went on with our walk! We were so surprised...she would have never been able to do that before. That was huge, and we knew for sure her meds were helping.

So stick with it, try and keep your dog out of scary situations until the meds have taken full effect, then go VERY slowly and at his pace 😀 He'll hopefully learn the world isn't so scary!
Thank you so much!! So would you say it took the full 2 months to see the benefits of medication? I have to remember patience and will keep him home until the meds start working. Its encouraging to hear others stories so much!
 

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Noise sensitivity is something a lot of dogs struggle with, even ones without additional anxiety issues, and it's a challenge for sure. But you're absolutely taking the right steps to get to a place where everything is more manageable for both of you. Working with a dog with special behavioral needs isn't easy and isn't something everyone is willing or able to do, but it can be an extremely rewarding experience (though full disclosure, I haven't personally worked with a dog with extreme generalized anxiety or the like, so just reporting from the experiences of people I know).

If it helps, Molly from Medicating Molly competes successfully in agility now, as well as dabbling in other sports, and is comfortable and relaxed even in that busy environment full of other dogs and people. Now nobody should ever start with the goal of turning their fearful dog into a sports dog that can handle the noise and intensity of those environments - Molly's owner started with just wanting her to be able to feel comfortable and safe at home and the rest happened slowly over time as she improved. But I bring it up to illustrate that anxiety - when properly addressed through behavior modification and pharmaceutical intervention when necessary - doesn't always mean there's no hope for a 'normal' doggy life. Take things slow, celebrate the small victories, and let your boy tell you when he's ready for new things and bigger challenges.
 

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So would you say it took the full 2 months to see the benefits of medication?
At least...maybe longer, and it wasn't a night and day change. In fact, it's much more obvious now looking back at how she used to be, to see how far she's come. Like any slow process, you have to celebrate the little victories! I didn't do this, but it could help to keep a journal of behavior progress...it might help you see subtle changes easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
At least...maybe longer, and it wasn't a night and day change. In fact, it's much more obvious now looking back at how she used to be, to see how far she's come. Like any slow process, you have to celebrate the little victories! I didn't do this, but it could help to keep a journal of behavior progress...it might help you see subtle changes easier.
Can I ask if you remember what dosage you started with and how much she weighs? The vet started us on 15mg (he is about 38lbs) and said if in 2-3wks we see no change we can increase. Our trainer kind of questioned that dosage.
I finally got through the Medicaiting Molly thread! They sound very similar. While it seems OP is WAY more experienced in training than I am...I hope that doesn't hinder his progress. While we wanted to fun stuff like agility and classes with him, I'd be happy just for him not freaking out at a tap on a table 😏
 

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I adopted a beagle / shar pei mix a few years ago. She had been rescued from a hoarding situation in a trailer with 30 other dogs. She was the smallest. Has scars all over her. But the worst scars are emotional. Her anxiety when I got her was, understandably, off the charts. I consulted my vet and a behaviorist. She was put on prozac. We then slowly introduced her to positive experiences with much praise and reward. We took the same walks everyday. Sat in the car at the park and just watched activity while I pet her and talked to her. She was on prozac for approx. 3 months. Then she was gradually taken off it. I agree with the post that suggested keeping a journal so you don't miss anything when speaking with your behaviorist or vet. While my girl will never be like "normal" dogs, she is a sweet, gentle soul who I wouldn't change for the world. It's been a long road, and while she is still very wary of strangers and other dogs the days she runs around like a puppy and brings me a toy makes it all worth it. Hang in there until you find what works for your fur kid. Keep pushing for a solution.
 
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