DogDaz Zoo: High Anxiety Help Needed

21 Jan

I need your help.  Sofie’s anxiety is off the charts.  I have had her to several Veterinarians, a Behaviorist, and now they are recommending a Neurologist and MRI. I am at my wits-end trying to figure out how to help her and I don’t get much sleep anymore (that video above is at 2:06 AM). She appears to be in an ongoing state of anxiety or pain.

MM 6.22.15 Thunder Storm

Months ago, with help from a holistic Vet, we tried lots of different Chinese herbs to calm her separation and thunder anxieties, Back in June, Sofie ate through a door. We tried Xanax which actually made her hyperactive,  None of the herbal remedies seemed to touched the surface for more than a few days. You may notice in the door vs thunder storm picture, she was wearing her Thunder Shirt while she ate the door.  Yes, I have had her in one for years.

Around October, Sofie started waking me multiple times during the night with whining and barking.  I likened the event to ‘night terrors’ (like when kids have nightmares).  When this first happened, I started taking her from the bedroom into the den where she and I would go to sleep on the couch.  No amount of Shen Calmer, Composure Pro, or Pheromone spray was helping to stop these events.  I needed to do something different.

In December, I decided to go back to the Vet that handled 2 of my previous dogs (Nikki with a brain tumor and dementia and Squash with insulin diabetes). I always felt he was a good diagnostician and the only reason I changed Vets originally was because I had moved about 30 minutes away and wanted someone closer to home.  After taking a bunch of tests, he put Sofie on Prozac for a few weeks (which did nothing) and then we moved to Phenobarbital.  He was thinking that maybe the night awakening was some kind of seizure.  She did sleep for a few nights when we first started but then her night problems broke through.  I adjusted the meds as directed, but still she had night terrors.  We keep doing blood work and tests and meds changes, but still she has this problem at night and during the day sometimes.

Last week I decided to try an Animal Behaviorist. Sofie and I traveled 2 hours to consult with this person.

MM 6.16.14The Behaviorist felt that Sofie was very stressed out and that it must be caused by the years of wrong training I have given her, both regular basic obedience and especially the e-collar training. She told me to stop talking to Sofie in any way (no commands, no reprimands, don’t look at her).  She asked me to remove Louise and the cats from the house to see if they were the problem. She recommended a bunch of changes: stop socializing with other dogs, don’t let her around children (which she never was anyway), stop letting her go to daycare, ignore her when coming and going, if I am not home have whomever is home leash her and give her treats when she is screaming for me, toss food at her to stop whining, stop all obedience commands, stop verbal or physical punishment (I assume she meant the ecollar since Sofie was never physically punished), interrupt all barking by using the head collar and pulling her toward me and feeding her, stop all cat chasing by blocking with a board, block all windows so she can’t look out, stop feeding her in a bowl and reward her 30 to 40 times a day for coming when called, stop talking to her, stop letting her go to the fence in the yard and bark, pen her at night and if she barks in pen throw treats, when watching TV pen her and give her a feeding toy to stop her from barking at me.  And begin a noise desensitization program with thunder sounds and barking,

All this made me feel like I am a terrible pet owner (I am publicly sorry to the 29 other pets I have had in my life) but I accepted that every dog is different and since I was paying her to help me find a way that worked for Sofie, I was going to listen to her advice.  Immediately last week we started implementing her suggestions.

To rule out medical issues, the Behaviorist suggested I have Sofie’s Thyroid checked.  She feels that Sofie is obese. (Which has me concerned because all her recommendations are food based.) I went and had blood taken the next day (T-4 test), which came back low. Today, I went and had more blood work done so we can see how low it really is.  Sofie was so anxious when we got to the Vet that she tried to eat the window blinds and jump out the office window.  I have never seen her do this stuff before.  It just keeps getting worse.

Since I went to the Behaviorist last week, Sofie’s behavior (especially the whining and night waking) has escalated to a new level of crazy that I have never seen before.  Is this a reaction formation to trying to change her behavior or progression of a fast moving disease?

Did I tell you that Sofie won’t go with the Dog Walker anymore if I am home. That started about a month ago.  She hides in my office and refuses to go. (Lucky Louise gets a walk all by herself).  I was able to trick Sofie at first, I would make like I was going to walk with them, but now she knows that I am not really going and won’t budge. She gladly goes if I am not home.  Separation anxiety?  Maybe Rachel walks too fast for Sofie and she doesn’t want to go because it hurts her joints?

A few nights ago I changed the room I sleep in to see if the night problem was environmental (and because she was disturbing everyone that was sleeping). The first night she slept, then she didn’t, then she did.  Clearly this is not separation anxiety, as she is lying right next to me on the couch and still waking multiple times with cries, whines, and ultimately barks.  She is not allowed on my bed in the bedroom, but I do allow her with me on my den couch, so I was thinking the closeness would help her.  But NO!!

By the way, Sofie hates this nose collar the Behaviorist recommended we use.  It is suppose to give me more control of her in the house (so I can turn her head gently when she is barking and give her treats). I get the concept but at this point, I don’t think it is making a lick of difference.   On a positive note, she is sucking on fabric things a little less; at least that is a step in the right direction.  You might remember that she always has to have a lovey or something to suck on.

After I reported that things are getting worse to the Behaviorist, she said maybe the problem isn’t behavior after all but medical.  She wants me to stop everything she told me to do (except for the cat chasing).  I am losing my mind with all of this (and going broke)!!

Just in case it is joint pain, I added Dasuquin to her meds. A few times last week I noticed her limping when she would get up from the dog bed in my office.  Is this a response to all the meds, the weather, something else?  

Today the Vet discussed having an MRI to see if she has a brain tumor, but if she does, there would be little that could be done to help her.  He changed her from the Phenobarbital to Clomicalm. Hopefully, if I give it to her shortly before bed, we might get through the night.

Does anyone have any thoughts?  Medical or behavior? This is starting to become a quality of life question, hers and mine.  – Lorian, desperate DogDaz Zookeeper.

NOT Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤


Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Dogs


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23 responses to “DogDaz Zoo: High Anxiety Help Needed

  1. speedyrabbit

    January 21, 2016 at 02:19

    Sounds more medical to me,and I think an MRI is probably the way to go.Epilepsy can do or sorts of weird things in the brain activity and I am sure that there are other neurological problems that can affect behaviour too and if you and your vet can find out exactly what is going on in there then something might be sorted out for’ve tried everything else and that hasn’t helped this is your only option from what I can see.Poor Baby and poor you,must be heartbreaking to see her going through this.For now all you can do is try to reassure her as much as you can tell the scans are done and the results have come back,keeping fingers and paws crossed here for you both,xx Rachel and Speedy

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 06:54

      Thanks Rachel and Speedy. This is when a PetMom really wishes you furballs could tell us what you are feeling.

      • speedyrabbit

        January 21, 2016 at 07:16

        I know that feeling,it’s harder with rabbits because they make little noise,when a rabbit Squeals it because it is in pain,being attacked or dying in pain,otherwise there is no noise and you have to rely on body language and habit changes and that makes it hard,you have to be so in tune with them to realise something is wrong.but any animal its hard to figure these things out,Wish I could be there to help you try and figure it out,xx Rachel

        • dogdaz

          January 21, 2016 at 07:57

          That is sweet of you Rachel. Sofie is such a talker that it is hard to determine what is driving the conversation – a pain or just her want for conversation at 3 AM. I will keep you posted. – Lorian

  2. Genevieve

    January 21, 2016 at 05:11

    When my friend’s 10 year old lab mix was crying and barking for no reason and biting the rug obsessively, her vet diagnosed dementia. I’m not sure whether there was even any treatment or medication for her so I have no insight there. You can certainly be sure that you’re doing everything you can to help your girl. You’ve gone above and beyond looking for answers. Good luck. I hope this gets sorted out soon. Prayers and healing thoughts are coming your way.

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 06:55

      I guess dementia is possible, but Sofie just turned 5, which is so young for that. Thanks for the healing thoughts.

  3. fredrieka

    January 21, 2016 at 06:14

    so very sorry you are going through this.

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 06:55


  4. easyweimaraner

    January 21, 2016 at 06:45

    I think that looks more like medical… and I hope for good news from the vet when you will do the MRI. I will not talk down the Behaviorist, but the suggestions sound not good… maybe I’m a “burnt child” on that front after a behaviorist-suggestion what made me speechless… All paws are crossed that you will find the reason and that this reason is treatable…

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 06:57

      Sometime I would like to know what happened with your behaviorist experience. It is so overwhelming but I keep trying.

      • easyweimaraner

        January 21, 2016 at 07:00

        I wish you all the best and I hope and cross my paws for good news :o)

  5. Will (

    January 21, 2016 at 10:47

    You are a saint! There’s clearly no easy answers here. I would hold out hope an MRI might diagnose a more specific issue, but who knows. Fingers crossed you guys get some relief soon.

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 10:49

      Thanks Will. New medicine did not change anything last night, so up the dose today. Appreciate the support.

  6. earllover

    January 21, 2016 at 12:38

    Oh no! I am so sorry you’re going through this.

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 14:29

      Thanks, Earl. Sofie is one sad puppy.

  7. Saving Sammie

    January 21, 2016 at 16:16

    Poor Sofie, and poor you! Please keep us updated – we’ll be thinking of you in the meantime!

    • dogdaz

      January 21, 2016 at 17:12

      Thank you very much. Thyroid is fine. So now we have to figure out what else it could be.

      • Saving Sammie

        January 21, 2016 at 17:14

        Do you think you’ll do the MRI? Or would that cause her too much stress?

        • dogdaz

          January 22, 2016 at 05:04

          Not only stress, but, if she has tumor there is nothing we can do. If she has mental lesions, they can’t see that. So not sure I want to put her through that to not be able to significantly improve her situation. New meds got us all the way to 4 am. She and I now having snack. I am hopeful Thanks.

  8. bumpyroadtobubba

    January 23, 2016 at 05:01

    I’ve been thinking about you for a couple of days since you posted this. Having been on a roller coaster of anxiety/behaviourists {two separate ones including being away from Bella and Beary for 5 weeks!} and having now spent thousands of dollars, I don’t have any answers. We too have tried DAP {pheromone} collars, plug ins, spray/thunder coat/medication both short and long term … and we’re no closer to a solution than ever before. Watching the video of her breaks my heart. Why oh why can’t they talk to us? To me she looks like she’s in pain. Whether that’s physical or emotional though who knows. I’m just also going to put this out there: if she’s only like that with you, are YOU okay? Some dogs know there are things going on with us before we do. Obviously I hope you are both 100% healthy! The other thing I wondered if you have thought about is a pet psychic? I’m just about ready to take that plunge here. I figure I’ve spent so much money and time so far, how can it hurt? I’m looking forward to hearing how she goes. Big love from all of us. x

    • dogdaz

      January 23, 2016 at 09:01

      Thanks for you support. I know you have been suffering too. The new med, clomicalm, has helped the last 2 nights. Time will tell. Mental illness in animals is such a hard diagnosis with no cure except to keep trying different meds. I am fine (I think) medically. I have used pet psychic in the past for another dog, but not sure they really were genuine, so get references. Currently in a blizzard so all the animals are whacky as well as the humans.

  9. angelswhisper2011

    January 28, 2016 at 10:32

    That’s a lot to cope with, Lorian. Allthough Granny and I are also think that it has something to do with dementia, we have a few suggestions, in case you haven’t try it yet, but we first want to say that you are not to blame and please, don’t feel guilty! You do your best and that is all that matters. We don’t know if you have tried Bach Redmedies. As far as Granny can see, Walnut (for any kind of changes) and especially Mimulus against anxiety, could work on her to make her calm down. She doesn’t attack you, does she? Maybe it is good to take some Rescue Remedy for yourself. Oh, and Lorian, have you ever tried to do MIR on Sofie? Check out my blog for the link. It might be worth a try. Think of the remedies when Sofie is still anxious and Clomicalm doesn’t work anymore. Sending lots of Healing Pawkisses her..and your way 🙂 ❤ ❤

    • dogdaz

      January 28, 2016 at 12:49

      Thanks for your suggestions. I am not familiar with Mimulus, but will check into it. I tried many many herbal remedies. For me, rescue remedy is Almond Milk Ice Cream :-). I will check MIR on your site. Thanks again

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