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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm very sorry this is so longggg.I adopted Ellie, a 65lb 2yr old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix on May 25, 2019. She is an absolutely sweet and wonderful dog. She loves people and cats. Unfortunately, she has an extreme case of anxiety. We adopted her from a shelter where she had spent only one or two nights. She had been surrendered by a couple that was going through a divorce. We don't know how much stress that had on her. There could have been mild or violent arguments. She was crated and may have been kept in it too long. Who knows?? This is one of those times that I wish my dog could talk. We know that she was raised with three cats, which was great news for us. She also has a tattoo in her ear flap that says NS or SN.

We started her on trazodone for only the two weeks prior to the 4th of July. Over the holiday weekend she was given acepromazine a couple of times for the fireworks chaos. Nothing else. The following week we started her on the fluoxetine (Prozac). 40mg twice a day. None of those drugs, fluoxetine, trazadon, and acepromazine have had any noticeable effect on her. No sleepiness nor fatigue of any kind. Music doesn't help. While discussing her treatment with the vet, he said that some dogs have great improvement with their anxiety by using just CBD. I wasn't familiar with CBD at the time so I chose to go with the fluoxetine. Plus it's much less expensive. We waited several weeks and there was no change in her behavior. During that time I added 7.5mg of CBD just to see if there was any change in her mood. I have increased the CBD to 30mg which is the recommended dosage by her weight. Well, after using fluoxetine and an increasing level of CBD for several weeks, there has been no change in her. The poor thing totally panics when we drive through some areas of town. Today, I was going to take her for a walk in our Old Town. An easy quiet stroll. I didn't even stop my car. She was in such a state of panic, crying, slobbering, trembling, and trying to climb on my lap. Driving down the road with 65lbs trying to get in my lap.Thankfully, she wears a seat belt in the back seat.

I'm not sure what else to do. She gets an ample amount of exercise and anywhere that dogs are welcome I bring her in with me. If I have to leave her in my car for a few minutes she cries, jumps around the entire time. I recorded her behavior while I went in a store for three and a half minutes. Total panic the whole time. Thankfully there was no damage to my car. Now I have my groceries delivered. I'm unemployed (by choice) and am with her constantly.
We've tried two different doggy daycare places. We tried three times with the first one: The first time for four hours but she only last two. She was terrified. The second time they called me to pick her up after only an hour because she was climbing on the kennel staff which made their jobs impossible. The third time, she wouldn't even go in the door.
The second daycare we tried won't allow her back because she tried to jump the fence.
She loves the dog park. For the open space only. She ignores and is afraid of the other dogs. She sometimes snaps at dogs as they try and sniff her tail. She won't go after a ball if another dog chases it. She's just a wreck. I'm going to call a trainer the vet recommended and see if there is anything else that might help her.
Does anyone know of any special stews to stuff a kong, aromatherapy, massage, someone even asked if I had tried acupuncture. I don't know if it's psychological trauma or she's just wired this way. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I am NOT a vet, but here are a few thoughts I've heard from various vets about the use of medication for anxiety:

-Many vets are leaning away from using acepromazine -at all- unless the dog absolutely needs to be sedated as a last resort. Here is an article that talks about why: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/why-you-shouldnt-use-acepromazine-for-cats-and-dogs

-Trazadone may decrease anxiety in some dogs and some dogs need their dosage adjusted. Trazadone also does not typically make a dog 'sleepy'. But it alone does not just make a dog not-anxious, moreso than take the edge off the anxiety.

-Fluoxetine takes weeks, or months, to build up in a dog's system and take effect. It does not often have an immediate effect like trazadone. If you just started it mid-July, it may be too early to see what it can really do. Like with traz, a good vet will work with you to adjust the dosage if needed. Fluoxetine also needs to be weaned off if you ever want to take your dog off.

-There is a drug called Sileo, it is an oral paste, that is recommended by veterinary behaviorists for anxiety triggered by sounds, like thunderstorms and fireworks.

-Medication for behavior issues should always be administered in conjunction with behavior modification. Typically, meds alone do not solve problems. They help the dog function better (not perfectly!) in stressful situations, which makes them better able to learn through behavior modification. But there really is no such thing, other than sedation, that will make a dog 'totally fine' (and arguably, sedation is not 'totally fine') in a situation where they currently panic.


Behavior tips:

-If your dog is afraid of dogs then don't take her to the dog park. Find open spaces where she can do things she enjoys without needing to worry about other dogs.

-If your dog has separation anxiety, you should contact a reputable behaviorist (or trainer certified to take on those cases). Your solution lies somewhere between the two extremes, which are never leaving her alone and suddenly leaving her alone. Treating separation anxiety is much more systematic and also takes time.


Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for the info!

I was wondering if fluoxetine is something that she would need to be weaned off of. I wasn't planning on it now but it's good to know. I guess I'll have to be more patient and hope that the effects will kick in soon. I even tried adding a couple of Benadryl this morning just to see if it would sedate her because nothing else does. It was just the diphenhydramine, no decongestant. It seemed to wake her up! She was actually smiling and wanting to play forever. I rechecked the box...it was only benadryl.

I don't plan on using ace again. I've heard of some bad issues with it. At our vet's office, when an owner is picking up their acepromazine, I've heard the front office remind them again to only use it if there is a definite history where it was needed, or if they think their pet is at risk of needing some sedation. The office is definitely careful when prescribing it. They only give you about 3 or 4.

My vet is very concerned with the effects the drugs can have on the liver, which is why there was a gap of a few days before she started the fluoxetine. Giving her trazadone regularly doesn't make much sense because it's to be given before a stressful event. Unfortunately, in Ellie's case, that would be every day.

I'm beginning to think that there is some emotional trauma that she is carrying around with her. She doesn't seem to have been physically abused but because there are locations in which she is terrified, I think something else is going on. Yesterday, I approached Old Town from the north when she had her panic attack. Today, I approached from the south. She had the same reaction. It's a head scratcher. It's been difficult to train her with simple tasks because she sometimes has trouble focusing. I'm going to contact a very well respected and talented trainer tomorrow. Hopefully she can work with Ellie or give me some tips on getting Ellie more comfortable in her own skin.

I've been with her almost 24/7 since we got her. I've had to reschedule a root canal appt twice because I can't find a sitter. My husband works out of town so it's taken a bit of juggling to get him home to stay with the dog so I can go to the dentist! I broke my ankle last year. I'm so glad we didn't have her then....

I don't plan on taking her to the dog park very often. We live in a small town with a small and not very busy dog park. I can see through the fence if anyone is in there before we go in. She loves it there. When someone shows up we leave. All I have to say is "let's go" and she heads for the gate. Nice. Our two dog parks are the only legal off leash areas around here.

One nice thing about separation anxiety is she has grrreat recall.

I just want to add some comments about our decision to try CBD for Ellie's anxiety issues. We know the jury is still out on all kinds of questions about it's safety/successes/failures, etc. What she is using comes from an organic hemp farm that is owned and operated by a family friend. We are assured of it's quality and production. We know four friends that have had amazing results from using CBD
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One friend had her migraines nearly disappear. This was not an immediate result. It can take sometimes weeks or months before any change is seen. When the migraines came back after stopping CBD it was clear that there was a connection.

Another friend has a type of migraine that, aside from intense pain, causes memory loss, hallucinations, and either insomnia and/or too much sleep. CBD has dulled the pain. It's still there but bearable. And the other extreme conditions are very rare.

The most amazing story is of a friend with an extremely rare form of epilepsy. Many specialists couldn't help him. His seizures would last for hours and hours. Now when he senses a seizure beginning, he takes CBD and the seizure stops.

A golfer that has very painful arthritis in his hands, can play comfortably again.

Because of these experiences I thought it was worth giving CBD a try with Ellie's anxiety.
Our old dog had some health issues that cost us more than $200 a month for several years. We figured we could have bought a decent used car by then. After having Ellie for only three months, we're on the road to another costly pet. Oh well..... :eek:)
 

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Ellie sounds like a sweetie! That sounds like a frustrating situation for both of you. I'm not a vet, but hopefully some of this input can help. Desensitization is a very effective method to reduce phobias or anxiety, and the sooner you work on it, the better. One thing you can practice is gradual exposure to her fear of being left alone in the car. Try leaving her in the car for maybe 30 seconds to a minute at first, and walking just out of sight, then coming back to confirm that everything is okay -with lots of petting since she seems to prefer human contact, especially with you. It takes a lot of patience, but over time you may begins to see improvements. Worth a try!

I also recommend helping Ellie with behavior modification exercises to teach her to relax in those anxious environmental settings, especially walking near certain parts of town. A trainer could be helpful in doing this, or you can try it one-on-one with her. Encourage calmness when she appears distressed, distract and redirect her attention.

In combination with the CBD or anti-anxiety medication, working on your dog's anxiety triggers directly is a great way to improve her behavior. I wish you both the best of luck!
 

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It sounds like you are doing everything you can to help Ellie, and I commend you for that. I just have 2 tidbits to add to what has already been said.

1) You have only had her for 3-4 months, so hang in there. For an adult dog, especially an anxious one, she could still be in an adjustment period. That isn't a whole lot of time.

2) Make sure you get a trainer who uses postivie reinforcement training. The LAST thing you want with this dog is to use punishment/aversive methods. With an anxious dog like this that could easily escalate her anxiety even more and ruin your relationship with her and her trust in you and the world. Ultimately I think you need a certified behaviorist, but starting out with a trainer definitely won't hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Geez, I never thought of using my car to help with the separation trauma! Thank you! I can start at home and gradually move on to parking lots. She has started panicking when I turn into a parking lot! Maybe she will at least lick her stuffed kong while I'm out of the car.

We're going through some desensitizing at the vet's office. The first time I brought her there was for a new pet exam, microchipping, and shots. (Fortunately, we go to the same vet because they have some of her vaccination records.) During that visit she was for sure not happy, but no more nervous/frightened/scared/pissed off than an average dog. My old dog loved to go. When Ellie had to stop by for additional shots, she got worse and worse to the point where she'd panic, scrunch up, cry, and tremble before we'd get out of the car. So, about three times a week for the last several weeks, we stop by and hang out for about an hour. At first she was absolutely terrified. She would try to hide behind me, under my arm, between my knees. It was really funny to watch which meant she received a lot of attention from the surrounding pet owners and office staff. Lots of treats. I even brought a tennis ball to toss when the waiting area was empty. She has finally reached the point where she'll get off of me and stand, maybe walk around and get treats. Sometimes we poke her nose in an exam room or behind the counter. Baby steps. For some unknown reason, the last two times she has gone back to hiding behind me. Oh well. At least it's an entertaining place to hang out.

Now here's a strange thing that just started... When we fetch in the backyard, I rarely need to give her a command when she returns the ball. Drop it, let go, sit, stay, look at me. Usually she gets just a "good job" ear scratch. A couple of days ago, I brought some treats out with me to just give her now and then. As I gave her one, she noticed that I was holding them in my hand. She ran in the house with her tail tucked in. Dropped the treat. I thought something must be around that I wasn't seeing. I've tried again and the same thing happens. She sees the treats and dashes off. Weird. Gotta work on that one.

Thanks again for your ideas and support. It's very much appreciated.

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