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Medication For Seperation Anxiety

Guest twhitehouse

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Guest twhitehouse

We've had our grey for a little over a month now. She has mild to severe seperation anxiety. We're to the point where we don't really know what to do. We've done alone training, DAP...pretty much everything that people have told me to do on here as well as reading as many books about it as I can.


So I thought maybe some anti-anxiety medication would really help us out when doing alone training with her. I called our vet and she said "NO" bascially. She advised us to take her to Boston (we live in Maine) to see a professional behavorialist. This is not an option for us. We couldn't afford it!


Frankly, I don't really see the need either. The vet tells us we're doing everything correctly and that we are the most informed dog owners she knows.



So basically, I was just wondering if any of you have used medication for your greys and if so did you have to fight your vet to get it or did they just suggest it? Also, how did it work for your dog?



I'd like to ask another vet, but I hate to have to pay for another visit only to be turned down again!



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Guest BlackandBrindle

I was so desperate with Spud's SA after five months, that I was begging the vet to put him on meds. Instead, I got told to take him to a behaviorist who's first visit was going to be $350 and at least $100 after that. I just couldn't afford to do it after I'd spent so much on trying to solve the problem already.


So I used holistic things like Rescue Remedy and melatonin. It did not cure anything by any means, but if often took the edge off.


Really though, time is your best friend and your worst enemy. After about 7 months something clicked with Spud. He still had some anxiety but it was totally controllable. If you can just wait it out, chances are she'll eventually come around. One month isn't that long for her to get adjusted to everything.


Hang in there. It will get better.


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Hi Toni,


We went through a very difficult time with Merlin's separation anxiety. I can't PM you because you don't have enough posts, but please feel free to call me (since you're in Portland too), or if you can come to this Sunday's playgroup, I'd be more than happy to share experiences with you, it might be helpful. My email is in my siggy (just click on my name).


I didn't like the idea of medication either, because I was convinced that Merlin's SA would subside a little as part of the settling in process. Well, it took a year, but we're definitely well on the other side of the tunnel. It took a long time for us partly because we lived in an apartment with intolerant **s as neighbors and we had to crate him (and Merlin was never a fan of the crate) to prevent him from destroying things, and because of our intolerant neighbors it was hard to do alone training properly - as soon as we'd leave for a few seconds he'd start barking and the complaints would start.


However, I mentioned medication to our vet, and she said something I thought very strange at the time - i.e. that she would suggest rehoming Merlin with someone who spends a lot of time at home before she recommended medication. I was taken aback and quite angry, not because she was against medication, but because of the assumption that I was just going to give up, and anyway, even if I had, finding a home like that is not exactly a walk in the park these days, in most families both partners have to work. Anyway, there was no question of me taking Merlin back as he was already a bounce , and I thought he was better staying with us, because I knew we'd do everything we could to help him, and I thought that if he was bounced again it would make his SA even worse. Plus, I'm stubborn :rolleyes:


Medication is not right for every grey. However, I've heard that it has dfefinitely helped some greys. You've had Lexi for just a month, so it may also be that's she still not settled in. Alone training is definitely the way to go, though. With us, alone training, NILIF (=nothing in life is free) training and time produced wonderful results.


Let me know if I can help! I know how frustrating and stressful it is to deal with SA, but there IS light at the end of the tunnel, I promise.


ETA: Can you describe her symptoms? What does she do? Pant, cry, bark when you leave? Is she crated/loose in the house/pet-gated? Does she like her crate? Does she chew and/or destroy things?

Edited by merlinsmum


Kerry with Pippin (Paid Vacation), adopted 4/15/2017
Missing the best wizard in the world, Merlin (PA's Paris), the biggest Love I've ever known, and my sweet 80lb limpet, Sagan (Leon B) :brokenheart :brokenheart, every single day.

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Guest greytmonty

Time and alone training will do the trick, but is so hard to be patient.

Monty did TERRIBLY on SA medication (Clomipramine) so we didn't use it for more than a few days. There are some great threads on here regarding alone training, have you read them?

Good luck.

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My grey also dealt with some SA. We did not use medication, but there were some things that were very helpful to us: sticking to a very set routine, plenty of exercise especially before going out (long walks, not "hyper" exercise that is likely to amp them up even more), leaving treats when we were gone.


Ultimately what worked for us was time for him to adjust and get settled in (it took several months for us), and also time for us to realize we needed to ditch the crate (we were very resistant to this idea).


The only input I have on medication is to stay far away from acepromazine (I think I spelled that right). I'd read in an SA booklet that in studies it showed that it actually does nothing for the anxiety and only prevents the dog from physically acting on it, which can make it worse in the long run because they get even more anxious.

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Have you said what you've just said to us to your vet? Maybe there's a compromise, like a trainer who is in your area who wouldn't be so expensive? You should be able to find someone who could do a consult with you for around $75-125. Perhaps with the recommendation of that trainer, your vet would do the meds. If not, I would try again with your vet, making a clear case for why you want the meds (make it clear it's a temporary solution to help your dog adjust while you do the alone training). If she still says no, I might consider talking to someone else.


Honestly, time alone will not fix a dog with true SA, and it sounds like based on your other posts that's what's going on here. Alone training will, but many dogs just cannot deal with the full day separation 5 days a week that they have to undergo while you work on the training. If you talk to people who have gone through this with their dogs, alone training can take 6 months to a year to completely work, although it can also take less depending on how skilled/dedicated you are and what your dog is like.


My automatic response used to be no meds, but honestly, I think sometimes now people are so automatically anti-meds that they miss the point. Why, I wonder, would you force your dog to be miserable for 40 hours a week while you painstakingly go through this training when medication could keep your dog comfortable and most likely help the training move along more quickly? Of course if you could put your dog in daycare (which I already said in my other post) or find a natural remedy that could work instead, I would say do that. But if those aren't working or aren't options, medications are not bad as long as you know it's a temporary measure while you do the hard work of changing her behavioral response to you leaving. Prozac and other anti-anxiety drugs have been used for quite some time with dogs and generally have negligible side effects. They've been used with people for even longer. All vets will insist on bloodwork every 6 months to be doubly safe though.


To tag onto what Merlin's owner said, and I already said this before, I do believe that if you have a dog who would be completely happy with another greyhound in the home and you can't get another greyhound, it would be smart to *think about* rehoming her. If you've ever experienced it, you would know why I say that. We have dogs with severe SA in foster homes that we move to a foster home with other dogs and the dog is immediately fine. A couple of times we've had a foster who's been in that foster home for some time suddenly greet the foster parent at the door (we crate our fosters) and eventually we realize that the resident dog didn't hang out in the same room as the foster that day. In other words, a second dog is an immediate fix. If a dog is helped that much by another dog, I question keeping it as an only dog (not saying it's not okay, just saying I'd think harder). In Merlin's mom's case, where the issue was being separated from his owner, I totally disagree with the suggestion to return him. Any dog owner needs to leave their house at some point so the dog somehow needs to learn to be left alone. As long as you're willing to do the work. go for it.


One final thought - I had to use the DAP for about 2 weeks before it had any effect on Zuri. I'm not remembering the timeline completely, but it seems to me that it hasn't been long enough for you to have given it time to work. The other problem we ran into was when the weather changed, I started leaving the windows open. Zuri's crate, and DAP diffuser, were right by the window so suddenly it stopped working! Using a collar instead addressed that for us. The collar is tougher to find, but I can point you toward where to get it. It's a little more expensive than the diffuser, but not by much and has the added effect of the dog getting the benefits of it 24/7 (you just leave it on). Zuri's needs to be changed every 4 weeks like clockwork. I know when I've forgotten to do it because I come home to pee in the crate.


Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Cash doesn't have SA (in fact, she likes it when we leave her alone!), but a more generalized anxiety disorder. In other words, she's a spook. So I can only tell you what her general reaction has been to her meds.


We were very resistant in the beginning to put her on anything. I'm home almost all day most days, and have pleanty of time to devote to helping her. But Cash was scared ALL THE TIME. There was never a moment of the day that any calm thoughts occurred. She reacted to everything - noises, things that move, things that don't move, small animals, large animals, our other greys, our cats, me the DH, new pictures on the wall, sacks, thunderstorms, wind, rain, shadows, lights - well, you get the idea.


We researched dogs with anxiety very carefully, talked with our vet, our greyhound "mentor," and consulted with a dog trainer (it cost me $60 for a private one hour session). We read books about scared dogs and scoured the interent. And we finally decided that the only way she would be able to learn would be if some of her anxiety was taken away.


We started her on alprazolam (generic xanax) about 5 months ago and it has been a godsend for her. After about 5 days we could see that she was much less reactive and able to listen to us. After a month she was remaining calm for longer and longer stretches, and now she is a pretty "normal" greyhound about 85% of the day. We will hopefully be able to wean her off at some point, but if we can't I would rather have her on a prescription than live her life scared of everything.


I would second the thoughts above that 1 month isn't very long for your grey to have settled in. (Cash was with us for several months before we made this decision.) If crating is an option, you might try it. DAP and melatonin are also natural alternatives but they need time to begin working for some dogs. A more radical suggestion would be to get another grey. Even borrowing one for a while to see if it helps keep your girl calm when you leave might be enough of a test. I'm not against rehoming, but I know you love her already and that's a really hard choice to make for something you feel like you should be able to fix. Time and patience are the keys!


Good Luck!

greysmom :D

Chris - Mom to: Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom, Lilly

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Carl had a nasty case of SA and all the alone training in the world didn't make a dent until he was put on Clomipramine Hydrochloride (the human name for Clomicalm...the human version is super cheap, the Clomicalm is expensive because you are paying for a brand name, it is not available as a veterinary generic yet). I was fortunate to have a vet that was open to it. I think he was open to it because I made it clear to him when I brought it up that I only wanted to use it as a time limited tool. He also realized that I'd tried everything else (short of a behavioralist because I couldn't afford that either). I tried DAP (a waste of money), Rescue Remedy, Kava Kava, Stress Free Calmplex, all different types of music, etc. I also took him hiking through the hills for a 2.5 mile hike every morning before work to wear him out. Nothing made a difference until he was on medication.


It took about 2 weeks for it to get up to therapeutic strength in his blood stream. I also had to give him a small amount of Valium when I left for work. We did more intensive alone training while on the Clomipramine and it finally took. He was on it for about 4 months when I weaned him off of it. He still has some SA, but nothing like it was. The Clomipramine was a godsend. I didn't hate using it as I had faith that he would only be on it for a short time, what I did hate was using the Valium, but I literallly couldn't get out the door without giving it to him. Fortunately, he did not need the Valium for that long, it was the first medication I stopped using.


Bouncing Carl was not an option, I've never "given up" on a dog, but I have to admit there were some dark times when it crossed my mind. I got some good advice here and even better advice from a woman from a local group. She was AMAZING, she talked to me for over an hour, gave me a great pep talk and some super tips and things to try. She also contacted me weekly to check on our progress. I owe her a debt of gratitude.


The final "tool" I credit for him turning the corner was using my cell phone as a baby monitor. I'd call my cell phone while I was at home, turn the home handsets onto speaker, put my cell phone on mute and listen as I drove to work, as soon as I'd hear him howl I'd unmute the cell phone and firmly yell, "NO" into the phone, remute the phone and listen...and it would work - every time...100%! He'd be quiet. At first he'd only be quiet for a minute or two, then 5 - 10 minutes, then 30 minutes. It was a HUGE breakthrough for both of us. He started coming off the medication as soon as I heard real progress over the cell phone baby monitor, when he got up to about 2 - 3 hours I knew we were heading over the hump. I have the T-Mobile Fav 5 plan, so I just set my land line as a favorite and I could leave the line open for as long as the phone's battery would last.


Now, as long as I follow the routine I've set up for leaving it's ok, but when I stray from that the SA is back in flash, but not nearly as bad as it was (crying and howling only, no destruction). For example, the electrician came today, so I went outside with him and closed the front door. Carl immediately started crying and running around the house, at least he wasn't body slamming windows and doors! I'm hoping that will eventually go away, too. FYI, Carl has been with me now for a year and a week! He also wears a plastic basket muzzle while I'm at work, it seems to have a real calming effect on him.


Best of luck to you. Please don't be discouraged, if you are open to using medication as a time limited tool and your vet won't accept that it might be time to look for a new vet who will work with you. If you feel that medication is the way to go, don't let judgmental attitudes influence you, do what you think is best for you and your dog. Medication can be a very helpful tool, but that's not the end of it, there is lots and lots of work to be done, too.

Edited by ckruzan

Sunsands Doodles: Doodles aka Claire, Bella Run Softly: Softy aka Bowie (the Diamond Dog)

Missing my beautiful boy Sunsands Carl 2.25.2003 - 4.1.2014

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Guest PiagetsMom

I have nothing to add that hasn't already been said except that I seem to be recommending this book a lot lately, "I'll Be Home Soon!/How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety" by Patricia B. McConnell. She states that retired racing greyhounds or kenneled dogs are those that can be prone to SA, but that not all bad behavior while alone is actually SA, which is actually rare in dogs. I know you said you've done a bit of reading, but if you haven't read this one, you might want to check it out.

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Guest paulamariez

We tried the medication route with Domino. We felt that it did very little and his behaviour really really did not change much. He still was very stressed, panting, peeing and pooping in his cage. We even came home to Domino with a big cut on his face from rubbing it against the cage door! In fact, we even felt that Domino was getting mean (!) on the drug. He seemed angry and kept snarling at the other two hounds all the time. We ended up taking him off because it really didn't improve matters. My heart goes out to you, because Dom's SA was SOOOO bad, we hardly went anywhere for about one year. It was so stressful for Domino and us, and then the nightmare of coming home and cleaning up the cage, the dog, the floor around the cage, etc. etc. What ended up helping Dom was being left in the house (not crated) and having one of the other greyhounds left with him. We closed off all the bedrooms and just leave the two of them in the kitchen/living room area. Domino is an absolute angel now and doesn't do anything when we leave. Also, it just took time for him to adjust and to trust that we eventually WOULD come home! I could never understand why Domino couldn't see that we always came back. It seemed so simple and the other two dogs knew it, so why couldn't Domino?? But, I guess eventually, he did, since he's fine now. But that was one stressful year for all of us!! Good luck with your little sweetie! I hope she gets over her SA quicker than Dom did!

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Maddie had a bad case of SA and still does when she is in a unfamilar place - (hotels and when she feels that a room is too small for her) she ate her way put of 3 crates 2 wire and one plastic. Needless to say she is not crated, and I baby gate and close doors to rooms that I do not want her to go into. I tried alone training, DAP diffuser, leaving a radio and a TV on. I also tried doggie day camp 1-2 days a week for about 3 months, and my vet and I agreed after she ate her way out of the 3rd crate to try the Clomicalm. I was not excited about medicating Maddie but it was the last resort. It was either that or returning her (which I was not going to do to her) i could not afford a behaviorist, as it was doggie day camp was not cheap. But doggie day camp was making her really tired so that when she came home, she was exhausted and slept through the night, she got up for breakfast when oput for her walk, I left for work and she slept most of the day. After, 2 months on clomicalm (she had been with he for 4 at this time) her personality was starting to come out, she came my little social creature and the vet and I decided to take her off the clomicalm. I only use it now when we are traveling to take the "edge off". I suggest explaining to your vet that you have tried everything and that you cannot afford a behaviorist and that the clomicalm is a temporary thing while you and she get adjusted. Remember she is used to be around other dogs and and/or people 24/7 and this alone thing is new to her. Try exercing her a lot as well. A tired dog is a good dog. Like the others have said time changes everything. Maddie is definately not the same dog I brought home almost 3 years ago. She would not leave my side, now she goes off on her own to "relax" and sleep and I usually go hunting and looking for her. We are help if you need us.

Edited by Maddiesmom

Amy Human Mommy to fur baby Maddie (Doobiesaurus) TDI certified. May 5, 2002-September 12, 2014 and Mille (Mac's Bayou Baby)CGC, TDI certified.


http://i270.photobucket.com/albums/jj93/Chillyhorse/siggies/maddie.jpg"]http://i270. photobucket.com/albums/jj93/Chillyhorse/siggies/maddie.jpg[/img]

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Guest momof1now3

My Lenny has terrible separation anxiety, so bad that one time, he ate through my drywall and insulation in an attempt to get to us out in the front yard.


We tried everything initially and ultimately, we ended up going through animalbehavior.net, which gave us our own personal behavior technician, and they also worked with our vet to get meds for him. Today, we are pretty much SA controlled, which has been achieved through behavior modification and 20 mg prozac daily, along with, only when needed, 2mg Xanax. The meds are super cheap though, so I can't complain at all, $4 prescriptions from Wal-Mart rock!


I can't speak highly enough about animalbehavior.net, if it were't for them, I have no idea what we would have done. Lenny was seriously having such issues that he would lick himself raw when we were gone, which was at most, 1 hr at a time. As for the cost, it wasn't cheap initially, I want to say it was around $100 for an analysis and then $400 for the behavior modification plan, and then $50 a month for the behavioralist who was our personal coach and held our hand during the process of getting it under control, which took about 4 months. Today, we just have a $2.99 family membership with them and it's been great.



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