Talk to me about anxiety meds.. aka: Help me figure out my dog.

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by kady05, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    I apologize in advance if this is long, you've been warned!

    Sako has always been a bit of a sensitive/soft dog, but nothing that wasn't manageable or that really concerned me. I just had to change my usual training methods to suit him better and all was fine.

    About a year ago he went through a phase when he decided that he was "afraid" of turkey necks. When I say "afraid", it's because whenever I offered them to him, he would immediately walk around with his tail low/tucked, head and ears down, classic signs of stress, etc. So I said whatever, and just stopped feeding them to him (he would eat everything else). I think maybe a month went by and I offered him a neck again and he ate it.. okay cool. All was fine and dandy (in the eating category) til the beginning of May this year.

    He started again with the turkey necks, so I figured it was another phase and would continue to offer them to him, but he wouldn't touch them. Same behavior as last time also. Then that phased into him not wanting to eat his boneless meals, even when the meat was ground. Then it just turned into him not eating period. I decided to get some kibble for him just to see if he was sick of raw, thought it would solve the problem. Nope. Same reaction.

    I've been videoing him when I remember to, so I'll post some here. FYI, I usually don't talk to him this much, I just tend to talk when I'm recording for some reason.

    This one shows his response to one of the ceramic bowls being dropped onto the rug. It didn't make that loud of a noise, but it was enough to upset him. He acts like he's in trouble for whatever reason:

    [YOUTUBE]KDKofV5o6uo[/YOUTUBE]

    This was the second time I offered him kibble:

    [YOUTUBE]W6cC3CO_M2Y[/YOUTUBE]

    Another morning, this was a particularly bad day for him, you can see he worked himself up to the point of panting:

    [YOUTUBE]YBSLrfH1rDw[/YOUTUBE]

    In this one I had tried to put the kibble in his favorite green ball. It actually worked pretty well the night before, he ate maybe 1/2 cup from the ball but then it was like something clicked and he realized he WAS eating and shut down again. I tried again the next morning and he pushed all the food out of the ball but wouldn't eat:

    [YOUTUBE]ZiCUygamcFg[/YOUTUBE]

    And this one I took this afternoon. He hadn't eaten anything since Friday night (so going on 2 full days):

    [YOUTUBE]PpdowCVJh1w[/YOUTUBE]

    He DID eat tonight when I offered him food later.

    So those are all the videos I have. He seems to be worse in the mornings by far, but like I said, he didn't eat at all Saturday, no breakfast this morning, but did eat dinner tonight. He also seems to eat better when he's outside for some reason.

    If I walk away when feeding him, or feed him in a crate, he will.not.eat. At all. He does seem to do better if I stand 5-10' away and "coach" him a bit. He seems to get "stuck" and I have to.. unstick him. Like tonight he was acting like he didn't want to eat again and just stood over his bowl so I called him to me and said "go eat!" (happy voice) and he did go eat.

    I have tried having him do some tricks when he seems "stuck" with his food. He will do them, but it doesn't get him to eat. When he's in that frame of mind he won't take ANY type of food.

    He just had blood work and a checkup and everything came back completely normal.

    He also has some SA going on. It's not bad, per say, but for example, he almost got us kicked out of our hotel a few months ago because all he did was howl when we left. I can still leave him in his crate when I leave the house but often times when I get home he is noticeably upset, but he doesn't try to break out or anything.

    I took him to my friends farm recently while I did a photo shoot. He could see me the entire time but wasn't right next to me and was extremely upset and stressed. My mom (who he knows well) sat with him in her house at one point and said all he did was pace and howl til I returned.

    If we raise our voice (even if it's in a playful way), 95% of the time he immediately lays down and/or acts like he's in trouble. Like if I correct Piper, he acts like I'm correcting him. Takes things VERY personal.

    His breeder is aware of all of this, and is trying her best to help me from 10hrs. away. We have decided to get him neutered, so that will be done on the 17th. Figure it can't hurt him.

    He is 100% fine with all people, has never met a stranger. No aggression toward any other animals either, FWIW.


    That's all I can think of right now. I'm really at a loss here, have never dealt with a dog like this. 90% of the time he's fairly normal, but that other 10% is just.. bad. Food is definitely the big issue right now, but in general he is much more anxious than usual.

    I've shown the videos to a few of my friends who are trainers and they're all pretty stumped. One said it looks like he's had a traumatic experience while eating and is now afraid of it. He has NEVER been left with anyone, he always comes with me if we travel and I'm always the one that has fed him. So, nothing bad has ever happened. I'm not one to immediately jump to medicating a dog but quite a few people have suggested it for him based on what I've told them. I just have zero experience with anxiety meds for dogs so I feel like a newbie here.

    Anyone have any suggestions/thoughts/questions?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  2. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    8,893
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 Pit bulls and 2 Malinois, We like to stay busy.
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    Something wrong with his gut? A friend said they experienced something similar right before they found their dog had stomach cancer. I know that is a terrifying thing and hopefully extreme but is it worth another check up?
     
  3. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    Not as scary as multiple people mentioning a brain tumor :/ I'm really trying not to go anywhere NEAR there at this point, but the dramatic changes in behavior (how he goes from eating perfectly fine to just one day *poof* "I'm scared of my food") are definitely concerning.

    He does throw up bile if he doesn't eat some days. But I'm not sure if that's just a "I'm hungry" thing or if there's something more to it.
     
  4. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2010
    Messages:
    8,893
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 Pit bulls and 2 Malinois, We like to stay busy.
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    Have you pandered? changed bowls, inside, out, tried a bunch of foods, canned? It's so odd...
     
  5. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    Changed bowls, check. He usually eats out of a stainless steel raised bowl, so I switched to ceramic. He's eaten out of both since this started, doesn't seem to prefer one over the other.

    He does seem to want to eat outside lately. Like when I get the food out he immediately goes to the door, almost like he's claustrophobic. So I have been letting him go out there to eat once Piper finishes (she's always eaten outside, Sako inside). However, he ate 3 meals in a row (Thursday PM, and both Friday meals) inside so..?

    Haven't tried any different kibbles yet. I only switched him off the raw out of curiosity to see if the kibble would snap him out of it. Like I said, with the raw it started with him not wanting turkey necks, then phased into not wanting to touch everything else, even ground up boneless (tripe and beef).

    It IS odd. Seriously, everyone I've talked to says the same thing "Well.. that's weird." If this was a case of him just being stubborn and not wanting to eat that'd be totally different. But he is very obviously stressed and can't get a grip right now when it comes to food. The SA stuff is concerning as well, but that's been an on-going issue that's gotten worse in the past 6 months or so.
     
  6. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    And he doesn't have any obvious signs of GI distress? Vomiting or diarrhea? Gassy or burping?
     
  7. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    13,402
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Kennel Manager
    Location:
    Guelph, Ontario
    This. Wasn't exactly the same, but went through similar with Rosey before we discovered a cancer in her bowels/anus.
     
  8. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    9,036
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    How about trying one of those black rubber livestock feed pans? I got one for Logan at TSC for $4. Logan hasn't been eating well lately, either, but it's because he thinks I'm trying to poison him with his antibiotics :rolleyes: Anyway, the rubber ones aren't shiny, so if it's a reflection or something doing it, that won't happen with the rubber.

    I would talk to your vet about it, anxiety meds may be worth a try if everything else checks out fine. Gavroche grinds his teeth every. freaking. winter. and fluoxetine helped with that to some extent this year.

    Also, how about offering something he doesn't have to chew? Canned pureed food, or ground raw, or soaked kibble...something soft, just in case he has mouth pain somewhere?

    Logan has always thrown up bile if he goes more than about 18 hours without food. Some dogs just do it, but if it's something new for him, you might think more about it.
     
  9. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    Nope he doesn't. Like I said, he does throw up bile if he doesn't eat, but I think that's more of a "I'm hungry" thing.

    I could try one of those, I know what you're talking about since I had horses. I did try feeding him off the ground (on a mat) a couple times and it made no difference, he still didn't eat.

    Have offered the ground raw and he got to the point where he wouldn't touch that either. When I fed him kibble before switching to raw (he ate raw for about 18 months) I always soaked it, so that's what I did when I tried kibble again. He actually seems to prefer it not soaked right now. :sigh: he's so confusing.
     
  10. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,925
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 1 cat
    Location:
    NC
    Home Page:
    GI distress/upset from food was the first thing that came to mind for me. Maybe do a fecal to see if there's bacteria over growth or something? Not sure what other diagnostics would help. Another thought would be a sore neck - making it painful to bend down to eat. Maybe a chiro visit?

    Sue Ailsby's technique for teaching a dog to eat miiiight help as well if you think it's behavioral: http://sue-eh.ca/page24/page39/
     
  11. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Environmental Science
    Location:
    Vermont
    That was the first thing that came to my mind as well. My horse has, from what we've been able to deduce, some sort of IBS that doesn't show up on any of the many, many types of tests we've done. A lot of what Sako is showing is similar to what we saw. Sometimes okay, sometimes not. Sometimes I could get him eating for a meal or two by changing things up (where he was eating, his bucket, the type of grain), but he'd quickly go off that as well. Stress at feeding time (Tristan would just go to the back of his stall and not interact at all, whereas he's normally very social, wanting to hang his head out the door). We never saw a single sign of tummy issues other than the eating - normal manure, no colic or anything.

    The vet finally suggested trying him on Prednisolone as a last ditch effort before putting him down last fall; it was like night and day within 24 hours. I'm certainly not a vet, and obviously stuff needs to be prescribed, but I wonder if trying him on some sort of steroid or something for tummy issues for a few days might be helpful from a diagnostic standpoint? You could see if it seems to help or not, and go from there.
     
  12. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Messages:
    14,011
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Illinois
    Home Page:
    Since it seems like a turkey neck started this both times I wonder if there is something about the turkey neck as he was eating it that didn't go well with him. Maybe it scratched his throat on the way down or something, or got a bit stuck - something that would make him think "eating this hurt me" and could then become "eating hurt me?"
     
  13. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    13,402
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Kennel Manager
    Location:
    Guelph, Ontario
    Ha, Oddly enough, I completely forgot I'm going through the whole refusing to eat, acting different when I try to make him eat thing with Nacho right now. And yah, Prednisolone is definitely a good suggestion, it's actually my potential next step here.
     
  14. OutlineACDs

    OutlineACDs Crazy Dog!

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2006
    Messages:
    1,341
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Texas
    I know this isn't common, but my vet did it to his own dog when she quit eating. A full on colonoscopy/endoscopy to see if there are any polyps or lesions in the upper and lower GI tract. I'd also do xrays of his chest/abdomen and probably a full on mouth exam while he was out. Just to rule out tooth issues.

    Not sure if my suggestion is of any help, I sure wish you the best.
     
  15. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,854
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Environmental Science
    Location:
    Vermont
    I know there are a lot of negative side effects, so I'm certainly not pushing the med without a vet being involved (and I'm pretty sure it's prescription anyway); in my case, it was literally "put him down now, or use the meds until they stop working and buy him a few years". But I'm thinking that it may be a relatively non-invasive diagnostic tool? If the prednisolone works, you know you are dealing with something physical rather than behavioral?

    I don't know, I'm way better at horse medical stuff than dog stuff - it's just a thought.
     
  16. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    Will read over that website tomorrow, thanks!

    Fecal is negative for anything. Chiro isn't a bad idea though, I've never taken any of mine to one so I'd have to find one locally.

    My last horse had stomach ulcers and went through a similar thing, actually. 6wks. of Gastroguard and he was like brand new.

    I can certainly talk to my vet about Pred or some other stomach med. to see what they think.

    This is what I think might've happened. As I said, he's always been a sensitive dog who takes things very personal and I really do think this is all mental. Especially since it started both times with turkey necks. Obviously this time is much worse than last year since it's now transferred onto just about any food but I feel like the turkey necks are/were the trigger to all of this. My friend describes him as "fragile" and that's really a perfect description for him.

    I think when he gets neutered I'll ask if they can do a mouth exam. The vet checked his mouth at his appointment but he was awake so it wasn't the best, I'm sure. He's getting neutered at the SPCA though ($90 vs. $350 at my regular vet) so I'll have to see what they say. I could ask about an xray then as well..
     
  17. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Messages:
    6,405
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Yea prednisone is used for IBD/IBS in dogs and sometimes as a therapeutic trial if the diagnosis isn't for sure, and every once in awhile I'll do a trial of an acid reducer in a dog with weird behaviors around food in case it's something like GERD/reflux, but...

    ...it just seems like such an unusual way for GI disease to manifest that it really screams "food aversion/ negative association" to me. Especially in a young dog with recent normal labs and exam. I mean, you never know since they can't verbalize, but refusing only such a specific food (necks) at the onset and slowly generalizing over such a long period of time... it's just hard for me not to put behavioral causes at the top of the list.
     
  18. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2006
    Messages:
    30,965
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    a lot
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Home Page:
    That was my thought. It seems like it might be pain related to me.

    Summer stresses severely about eating when she doesn't feel good. She will refuse and then will hide from it, especially if I am 'making a big deal' about her eating (aka acting 'weird'). when she had her muscle sprain in her neck she stressed big time because bending down hurt! She is FAR from a stoic dog when it comes to pain though so it was obvious she was injured somewhere on her neck. Most bullies I know are a lot more pain tolerant so it makes me wonder if he doesn't have neck pain? I had to hand feed Summer for a while because she couldn't bend her neck down.

    She also has a lot of texture issues with certain foods (raw is a big one, THK is another, canned food) Too many non 'normal' kibble meals for her and eating starts stressing her. She has starved herself for days before to the point she was showing signs of low blood sugar. I finally gave up on raw with her because of that. It's a vicious cycle- she stresses, doesn't eat, doesn't feel good, so stresses more, refuses food again, etc.

    Not sure if that helps.
     
  19. kady05

    kady05 Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    5
    Location:
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Home Page:
    Last paragraph is how I feel. I'm not trying to discount anyone's opinion that it could be medical (or maybe it's a bit of both medical and mental), but I really feel this is all behavioral.

    Here's the thing though, he usually eats out of a raised bowl. I only changed it because I wanted to see if anything changed when I put it on the ground, and he seems to eat better with it there then anywhere else.


    He did eat again this morning, FWIW. So that's 2 meals in a row. I videoed it so you guys can see his body language when he's in a completely "normal" frame of mind:

    [YOUTUBE]ImuSG4henoE[/YOUTUBE]

    Fed him outside again, which as I said, he seems to be more comfortable with. No tail tucking, pacing, head low, etc. going on. I put the food down, he ate. This is how it goes most of the time when he does eat, then after doing this for a couple meals, he reverts back to the other behaviors.
     
  20. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    4,925
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    2 dogs, 1 cat
    Location:
    NC
    Home Page:
    Is there any possibility that one of the other dogs was doing something to intimidate him? Since he eats better outside away from the other dogs, it made me wonder.
     

Share This Page