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View Full Version : Barn Dog getting more paranoid as she ages



dalpal
Jul. 15, 2010, 08:28 PM
I have three dogs...my oldest is 8. She is a golden/gsd/border collie mix. Super sweet, but has always been stubborn and a very high prey drive.

She's always been afraid of storms...but in the past year this has escalated to just about any noise that mimics gunfire or thunder. Even if someone is hammering in the distance, she will cower and run for cover in the barn/won't come back out. If a dump truck makes a loud noise, she takes off.

The other dogs act normal...I've tried to ignore it, I've tried to encourage her...nothing works

Now she has started a new thing in the past week...obessevily licking her front legs. Food hasn't changed (we feed either raw or grain free), today.I washed them, thinking maybe she has a mosquito bite, etc...she came home and her legs are drenched yet again. I'm worried she's going to chew a hot spot.

Any wisdom/advice....I'm beginning to think I need to consider doggie prozac.

JSwan
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:05 PM
Only your vet is going to be able to tell you what's going on of course.

But dogs can develop dementia as they get older.

I hope it's nothing and the dog is back to normal soon. Maybe it's just the heat, or some other stressor.

My beloved basset had this trouble towards the end of his life. Looking back, I realize I missed signs that he was going senile. We just adjusted little by little so I never really noticed.

dalpal
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:29 PM
Only your vet is going to be able to tell you what's going on of course.

But dogs can develop dementia as they get older.

I hope it's nothing and the dog is back to normal soon. Maybe it's just the heat, or some other stressor.

My beloved basset had this trouble towards the end of his life. Looking back, I realize I missed signs that he was going senile. We just adjusted little by little so I never really noticed.

Your small animal vets must be better than ours here. :lol: I know this is going to be one of those, hmmm.not sure..try this.

MelanieC
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:44 PM
Considering Prozac might be a good idea, or at least considering approaching this problem with the help of a veterinary behaviorist.

http://dacvb.org/about-us/diplomates/diplomate-directory/

I don't know where you're located, but board-certified vet behaviorists are listed at the DACVB website. If you tell me where you are I can also try to get a recommendation for you.

One of my dogs has serious anxiety issues (including noise phobia, but also separation anxiety and extreme fear of strangers) and he's been on behavioral medication for most of his life. On the meds and with a lot of behavior mod he has excellent quality of life and seems unremarkable in most situations, without them he is a very anxious dog. He is not sedated at all and his "normal" is the same on drugs and off. He can, however, be more normal in more contexts with the meds.

If dementia is playing a role there are medications for that too. You may also look into giving a supplement like Focus Factor, after asking a vet of course.

pharmgirl
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:47 PM
The front leg licking can be something unrelated to the paranoia/dementia/anxiety, etc. I've had and know several dogs where that was an allergy related behavior. You could try some benadryl to see if that helps with the licking, at least.

JSwan
Jul. 15, 2010, 09:50 PM
Yeah, it could be so many things.

My GSD mix had some temporary damage to his sight and it made him extremely anxious. Licking, very afraid of noise, that sort of thing.

After his vision improved, he stopped the behavior.

Your vet would do a thorough exam, right? Including vision? Maybe the dog has trouble seeing - that would certainly be frightening.

Just throwing stuff out for thought. Good luck.

MelanieC
Jul. 15, 2010, 10:03 PM
It's true, the front legs might be allergies. A veterinary behaviorist is still a vet first and foremost, so one would be able to help you rule out alternative explanations like that.

If the noise phobia is worsening it is worth it to look into treatment anyway. It normally escalates over time and is very common in Border Collies. Noise phobia is commonly related to other anxiety problems.

Donkaloosa
Jul. 15, 2010, 10:09 PM
I've got an aging coonhound (9.5, I think, but that's getting up there for a coonie) who is start to get some dementia, I think. He's going after the other dogs for no reason, seems to go out of his way to do it, and just isn't quite right. But he's still happy, healthy, eating, so I'm not too freaked out yet. I haven't taken him to the vet yet, waiting to see how he does the rest of the summer, but doggie Prozac may be the answer for him.

vacation1
Jul. 15, 2010, 10:28 PM
... oldest is 8... She's always been afraid of storms...but in the past year this has escalated to just about any noise that mimics gunfire or thunder. Even if someone is hammering in the distance, she will cower and run for cover in the barn/won't come back out. If a dump truck makes a loud noise, she takes off.... Now she has started a new thing in the past week...obessevily licking her front legs....I'm worried she's going to chew a hot spot.

:lol: It sounds so familiar. My dog - also a collie mix - developed a thunder/fireworks phobia and skin allergies (and a delicate stomach) around age 7-9. For the first few years we had her (adopted her around 9 months old) she didn't really mind thunder or loud noises, and she had zero allergies. Ate anything, and everything. Cast iron stomach, skin was fine. Then she got stomach problems. Then noise phobia. Then a hot spot that went from an itchy spot to an actual wound in about 3 hours. Happily, these are all just maintenance issues. Expensive maintenance issues, true, but not life-threatening.

From what I've learned since, allergies and phobias are both notorious for hitting adult dogs (and people) who didn't have them in youth or early adulthood. I think you have to eliminate possible physical causes before exploring possible behavioral/mental causes. Prozac won't work if the dog's allergic to pollen.

dalpal
Jul. 16, 2010, 07:38 AM
We're in Raleigh, NC.

I can rule out vision....this dog can spot a squirrel in the middle of the woods about 1/2 a mile away. :lol: Well, maybe she has super sensitive hearing, thus making the phobia????

If anyone knows of any good behavior vets in the area, let me know.

casper324
Jul. 16, 2010, 08:20 AM
My GS/Husky mix is 9 years old and has some of the same strange behavior. For a week she would Not go outside without help and once outside she'd constantly be looking up and sticking close to the buildings. At first I figured she got in an agruement with Turkey Vultures or hawks over some poochie perfume. I'm now convinced that UFO's tried to take her since she growls and barks at planes. :winkgrin: Getting her out on a cloudy day is difficult and on clear days the sight of a planes exhaust is enough to send her under a bush.

caper
Jul. 16, 2010, 09:49 AM
My Border Collie became senile as he aged. We treated him like a senior. :) We read his body language...if his eyes where bright and he was happy we would interact. We live near the lake so many big electrical storms roll in. After the first clap of thunder he would gently jump on my lap and curl up for security. This is a medium sized dog. If he was sleeping on the couch and was woken abruptly by a noise he would wake up a different dog. We would leave him alone and had him on ignore. We let him decide when he wanted to socialize with us. It was difficult seeing him act in an aggressive manner at times for no reason. I had to keep telling myself he still loved me but on his terms. I'd let him come to me. He passed in February at the age of 16. He was a great dog! I did discuss things with my vet yearly and he said it is common. He was dealing with the same thing with his dog. He didn't suggest medication.

fivehorses
Jul. 16, 2010, 10:22 AM
I could write a book about my akita...her fear as she aged became destructive...destroyed the entire interior of 4 vehicles...yeah, you'd think I would learn. Some were destroyed within 15 minutes.

Anyhow, my dog vet kind of just thought I was exaggerating, the horse vet saw the damage and asked if I wanted to put her down. Fianally, I got online, and found zanax(alprozoloam) and prozac were the recommended meds. I had another vet recommend kava kava, but my response was this is serious.
So....the dog vet finally gave me elavil...which made things horrible, she got so jumpy and everything was a fear.

I was out of my mind, many friends telling me put her down(I didn't get into what she did to the house), and I just could not.
The animal behavorist at the local shelter told me I was a horrible leader, and to do the whole separate protocol so highly recommended, ie don't make a scene, leave for a few minutes, come back, again don't make a scene...I know you dog has noise issues, and so did my akita amongst a few other things like separation.

Long story, but finally someone recommended an phd animal behaviorist, so off we went to tufts...and honestly, I had no hope. We saw Dr. Dodman and Dr. Niwako Ogata, and I will tell you, my life, the dog's life has been changed.

First off, he told me to forget all those other idiotic advise, and to make a big deal when I leave, etc. I also was given medication...elavil he told me just amped her anxiety, and he started us on zoloff(I should have take it too!LOL), and I the alprazoloam/zanax. That was ok, but she seemed groggy, so then he put her on buscoprine, which was fabulous!. She was on it for about 2 years, and I finally took her off. I did give her zanax when I would leave, or a bad storm, fireworks, etc.

She is not on anything anymore, mostly because she is almost 14 and well, just too old to destroy things or now mostly deaf that she doesn't hear. But, I also think her patterns of fear were altered, and although she still worries when she hears fireworks, it isn't the running off or if in the vehicle or house...destroying it.

I spent 2 years trying to get this dog help. I no longer use that dog vet...he refused to even fill Dr. Dodman's prescriptions and thought I was some kind of junkie, or at least made me feel that way.

So, if no results...keep looking elsewhere. The buscoprine is a drug to reduce anxiety, and honestly I think it worked. I did not try the clrormiprazole the other common drug for dogs because she was older, and Dr. Dodman felt that worked better on younger dogs with training. With older dogs, he felt there was some dementia involved, and not as much a training issue but a real mental condition.

Good luck, sorry about my book, but it took me 2 years to find help, and 2 years of meds and now my girl is aging and will die when its her time physically, rather than putting her down because of her fears, and the destruction they caused. I understand some people need to make that decision, but I knew it wasn't her, but her response to life circumstances and amplifying her worries. (my mom died who she was very close to, and the destruction started within a month, prior to that she was fearful, but not destructive...don't know if that was a natural progression or a response to the loss of my mom).

Best to you.

fivehorses
Jul. 16, 2010, 10:24 AM
Dalpal, go to PhD clinical animal behaviorists. I know UGA has a good one, and that lists all the docs who are animal shrinks...I would tend to avoid lay animal behaviorists for a few reasons. Unless they work with your vet, you can't get meds, and sometimes training works, but sometimes meds are needed.

tallyho392
Jul. 16, 2010, 12:25 PM
i had a lab with the front paw licking......it was a form of OCD, and anxieity based........
she would like her paws as a comfort, the same way a kid will thumb-suck.........BUT, the constant licking made raw spots and terrible infections.........her foot would swell to the size of a softball, and still , she would lick.....called granular lick syndrome

the endorphins released from the pain caused by the licking made her feel good, so she would lck it again.....getting her endorphine "high" , but also causing more tissue damage....

she was on a couple of meds til we found one that worked...the first one made her insane..she chewed through doors and stuff, looked like we had an alligator living here..

it's like dealing with non-verbal special needs kids.....the body language is ssoooo important....and the stressors need to be addressed, if possible, not just the behaviors

good luck, it's a tough one

MelanieC
Jul. 16, 2010, 01:04 PM
Right, you need to work with a certified veterinary behaviorist, or a veterinarian who is working with one (there are some vets who function very well in the vet behavior role but are not certified yet). These clinicians will sometimes hold PhDs but all will hold DVMs/VMDs. There are excellent behaviorists out there with PhDs, but they cannot prescribe meds.

Two DACVB-certified vets in NC, one in Cary and the other in Greensboro:

http://dacvb.org/about-us/diplomates/diplomate-directory/

It isn't clear what causes noise phobia (I spent three years studying this: www.k9behavioralgenetics.com) but it is fairly common in herding breeds and nearly always becomes worse, not better, over time. Dogs (and people) with phobias, unlike normal conditioned fears, tend to become sensitized by exposure rather than desensitized. To properly desensitize a dog (or a person) to problem stimuli, you need to present those stimuli below threshold level (i.e., at a level low enough so that the full-blown fear response does not occur) and with phobias, usually such a low level of the stimulus is necessary to cause the fear response that it is basically impossible to present it at an acceptable level. Thus, you end up with dogs who will not go outside if it is very humid during thunder season, or dogs that totally flip out at the sound of a firecracker many miles away.

It is true, some vets will think you are raiding your dog's stash. But most enlightened vets, and especially those who have more recently graduated from vet school, will have at least some knowledge of appropriate behavioral meds for anxiety-related behaviors in dogs.

chaltagor
Jul. 16, 2010, 08:51 PM
I did discuss things with my vet yearly and he said it is common. He was dealing with the same thing with his dog. He didn't suggest medication.

Just because something is common doesn't mean you don't treat it. I would want someone to take me to the Dr. if I started acting strangely or odd when I got older. Some vets don't want to get involved or bother with tx. Shame.

caper
Jul. 16, 2010, 09:23 PM
Just because something is common doesn't mean you don't treat it. I would want someone to take me to the Dr. if I started acting strangely or odd when I got older. Some vets don't want to get involved or bother with tx. Shame.

Well my dog was seen and visited by my vet yearly. My large animal vet also works with smalls too. He vaccinated barn cats, dog and horses for me. He didn't feel at the time that meds were necessary BUT if things changed it was an option.

My dog didn't really suffer from anxiety so much as getting spaced out and kind of moody like many senior folk. We just gave him his space and didn't crowd him. He came to us when he craved attention and loving.

You know like the saying 'let sleeping dogs lie'. He lead a very happy and very long life.

BasqueMom
Jul. 17, 2010, 03:49 AM
Our Aussie is afraid of thunder, gunfire, fireworks and anything that makes
a bang except the TV. He was like that when we got him at age two. Our
border collie was terrified of fireworks and gunfire but storms were okay. Our
lab/aussie is afraid of thunderstorms--fireworks and gunfire okay. Plus she won't stay in her bed against an outside wall during a thunderstorm--she moves to the throw rug in the bathroom. Go figure...

alto
Jul. 17, 2010, 03:07 PM
Get a complete thyroid panel done to rule out thyroid issues (very common in dogs)
http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/HEMOPET.HTM
-scroll down on the linked page until you get to the thyroid testing

It's often cheaper to go through Hemopet than have your local vet lab run thyroid tests, especially as most do not test enough parametres & many dogs go undiagnosed: you can listen to Jean Dodds on Animal Talk
http://www.animaltalknaturally.com/2009/02/03/diagnosing-treating-thyroid-problems-in-pets-with-dr-jean-dodds-show-234/

Anti-anxiety meds should only be considered after the physical has been ruled out - sometimes you need to start the meds inorder to even examine the physical but your dog does not sound as if she's in this category :)

Obsessive licking is often due to allergies (even if she has been on the same food for years, allergies can develop/flare up) , examine the webbing between her toes for redness, also her ear canals: common allergies in dogs are chicken & grains, so switching her to a grain free, lamb or bison or elk or venison for at least 2-3 months is frequently cheaper than allergy testing (depending where you live). You do have to make sure that she does not have any treats etc that are not also free of suspected allergens (much harder than controlling the actual food).

PS
Past programs "Talk" page - very worthwhile to listen to Dr Dodds Vaccination & Rabies Challenge programs as well
http://www.animaltalknaturally.com/past-programs/

dalpal
Jul. 18, 2010, 07:16 PM
Hey Guys,
Thanks for all the advice and MelanieC..thanks for those links. I definitely plan to use them as soon as I can (teacher + summer=poor horse woman :lol: )

She has been much better this week. I gave her a full bath, furminated her, spent lots of time with her and she seems to be normal. I think there is also a heat element to this. We had one day last week that was moderately cooler....she was out playing with my dalmatian and running around the farm more. Now that we are back to vomit heat, she's back to hiding in the barn in front of the fan.

And of course, vomit heat brings on thunderstorms..so right now she's laying on the bed behind me as I type.