Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,
Two years ago we adopted Moonshine, a ~6 yo Chihuahua/?? mix from our local SPCA after our original dog passed to keep our other dog, Haley, company. She was broken-hearted after Molly passed.

Moonshine came with a load of physical and mental issues. He was rescued from a hoarder in Kentucky who had 25 other animals in a motel room. When we got him, I think I posted about some of his medical conditions: Tapeworms and Kennel Cough just to name a couple. He was also very fearful of everything. But over the time we've had him, he really came out of his shell and finally let his personality shine through. He's such a sweet little boy and such a funny character.

About two weeks ago I was taking both dogs for their regular evening walk. I have to admit part of this is my fault. About a year ago he had done so well I started wearing my headphones on our walks. Ordinarily, I can hear external sounds and even carry on a conversation through the headphones but this particular evening I was jamming out to an album I forgot I had so I wasn't paying 100% attention. Anyway, all of a sudden, Moonshine started acting very skittish.

He normally walks on my left side with Haley out front but he would only walk behind me. His crazy little tail, usually curled like a pigtail, was between his legs. I turned the headphones off and was trying to comfort him when I realized what it was: Somebody in the distance was shooting off fireworks. Now we know he's terrified of fireworks but, even though it was close to Memorial Day, we hadn't heard any so I hadn't thought anything about it at the time. I had to carry him home.

I suppose I should mention that I'm on Disability so I am home pretty much all the time. I noticed that he's his normal perky self during the day. But after about 4 PM he will not go outside and if we carry him outside or bring him on the leash, he starts shaking like a pyromaniac in a freezer. And after dark, you can just forget him going outside because it ain't happening.

This has also affected his "bathroom" functions but we're working on that gradually.

I bought a calming collar for him but, so far, it hasn't helped much with his nervousness in the evenings. I started taking them earlier in the day and that seems to be working although even though I'm not taking him more than 50 feet down the street and back, he's pretty shaken up afterward.

We're trying our best to gradually ease him back into his routine without rushing him but the evening time is still a huge challenge. Just wondering if any of you have any experience in this situation and could give us some tips and suggestions to do anything else.

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,570 Posts
Poor pup. Talking to your vet about options like prescription medications or dietary supplements is probably your best option.

I've got my pittie on Purina Calming Care probiotic, and while storms still upset her, she doesn't seem to panic as much as she used to.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
256 Posts
One thing I've noticed, and had friends say they've also experienced, is that some dogs get worse about thunderstorms and fireworks with age. In fact I had one who never showed any problem who began to become agitated during thunderstorms at about 9. Another began hiding in the bathroom during storms in his old age. So it could be your boy is more vulnerable now at 8 than at 6 when you got him.

The only thing I ever used for it was melatonin. If I got it down my dog before the storm or fireworks started, it worked. I don't know the dose for such a small dog. Mine are large and I gave a minimum human dose. Vets probably have even more effective prescription meds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Leo and Storyist! Vets are still closed in NY state but hopefully opening in the next couple of weeks.

I'll look into the ProBiotic and the melatonin in the meantime. It's overcast this morning - no rain or any type of storm - but he's been more subdued today. But he is at least sleeping in the back room with Haley. That's encouraging

Thanks again! I'll keep posting updates
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Oh, poor guy. Dogs are very good at generalizing negative experiences, I'm afraid, so it definitely seems like he's connected the scary fireworks to nighttime. It sounds like you're on the right path with taking things slow and gently.

Thundershirts have a decent reputation. They don't work with all dogs, but many owners report that the deep pressure calms their dogs down, and it was specifically designed for noise phobias originally (hence the name). It's based on techniques used to help humans with anxiety or overstimulation issues. I think they have a decent return policy, too, if it doesn't work for you?

But definitely consider medication too, especially with his anxieties intruding on his day to day life. There's great options these days, and are about helping your pup balance their emotions and cope with their fears, not sedation or anything like that. Look around; with the pandemic being what it is, a lot of vets are setting up video consult options for issues that don't require a physical exam. If your regular vet is taking phone calls (I'm sure someone in NYC is still taking emergency cases) they may be able to advise you on that. Otherwise, here's hoping you can get some veterinary advice soon! Crazy times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. We haven't tried the Thundershirt yet. I looked into them after we first got Moonshine but he got better so I guess I forgot about them. Thanks for the reminder.

We did learn early on from a PetSmart employee who owns Chihuahuas and found it to be true that just putting some (any that fits) kind of shirt on her dogs alleviated most of their fears.

We live in Buffalo which is right on Lake Erie so the weather can literally change in the span of any given 5 minutes. We actually had sunshine, clouds, rain, hail, 50 mph winds, and snow one day over a 4 hour period at the beginning of April! Anyway, we always have a shirt or sweater on him but maybe the Thundershirt is the next step.

Thanks for the advice! Stay safe!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Wanted to add that I've ordered the Calming Probiotic which will hopefully be in tomorrow. Even more hopefully, he'll like it. We've found with him that if every other dog on the planet loves something, Moonshine is absolutely certain to hate it. He wouldn't eat any kind of a treat until about 8 months ago when my wife picked up a bag of Pupperoni Training Rewards. Now it's Katy Bar the Door.

We've been going out in the back yard with him as late as we can get him to go out at all. We had severe thunderstorms in the area last night and he was not a happy camper. But so far he's been fine today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,570 Posts
If it's Calming Care, it's little packets of maybe 1/4 teaspoon of granules in each packet. Just sprinkling it on his food should work. If he is free fed, and/or another dog has access to the same food bowl, then mixing it with a bit of canned food and letting him eat that before the rest of his food would be best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, Leo! It is the Purina Calming Care. Shockingly, he loves it! I feed both dogs twice a day and have been giving him the powder at dinner. I know they say it can take 6 weeks to reach maximum benefit & I also have a Thundershirt coming in today. But overall we're seeing at least some improvement.

We worked outside most of the weekend and Moonshine was out with us 2/3 of the time. He was fine until he heard a loud boom off in the distance but, bless his little heart, he didn't want to go inside. Rather he wanted one of us to pick him up and hold him. So that's a pretty big step in this.

Also, he was inside by himself when some smaller fireworks popped. He actually came to the back door to be with us. That is a first. Ordinarily he would go into the guest bedroom and hide under a chair.

He also exhibited yet another new "phobia" yesterday. The place where we live started as a railroad settlement in the 19th century so we're within 1000 feet of 6 or 8 sets of train tracks and a switching yard. Up until yesterday, the sounds from the trains had never bothered him. But when a locomotive was revving up to move, Moonshine got moderately skittish at the low frequency rumbling sound of the engines. Again he did not go full-on panic but instead came to us.

Being from the south I've experienced hurricanes and tornadoes. We have no way of knowing just what all he has been through in his life but these behavioral tics-for want of a better word-make me really wonder.

I'll continue to update every few days. Thanks to all of you! 👏👏
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Not sure if it's the collar or the calming powder or the combination thereof but I'm sitting outside with Moonshine on my lap. In the last 30 minutes there have been 5 or 6 rounds of fireworks.

At first he was shaking pretty severely. I just stroked his back just behind his shoulder blades(?) and by the time the last round of popping/booming he's just looking around with his ears perked forward.

Guess we'll save the Thundershirt for the actual holiday instead of the month long barrage of a few here and there.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top