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Medicating for Anxiety + Accidents After a Big Move


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When would you consider medicating a dog for anxiety?

TL;DR - My house broken 2 year old pooch is stress-pooping after a big transition. She's always been an anxious thing. We've been asked if we want to medicate her before and declined in favor of modifying her behavior with positive reinforcement and training to improve her confidence. It's worked...until now. Help!

Long version - Our Pandora is amazing - she's affectionate, intelligent, active, and sweet. She loves our two kids (toddlers) and deals with them well by alternating between playing nicely and finding a quiet spot to get away from them when necessary. We just moved from a rental home with a huge yard to a new build with no yard whatsoever. It wasn't our choice since the builder screwed up the timeline and didn't get to do the final property grade before winter set in so we can't even consider a fence until the land is graded, debris is removed, and I'm certain that it's safe to run on...

We also just got a kitten, but they've made fast friends and are beginning to snuggle and deliberately touch. So lots of transition for our poor girls. Calypso is doing fine with the change. I know they both long for a yard to run in, but they're handling it by getting long walks, having much more room indoors to run and being encouraged to wrestle and romp inside. There's also a large basement where they go down with the kids to play.

That being said, Panda is pooping in the house now and I strongly suspect it's related to stress. She's been so anxious since the pre-New Years fireworks began right after Christmas. The accidents started off small. A runny poop here or there, never in the same spot and I'm decently sure she's not marking. She leaves the situation immediately with her tail tucked and her ears flat. Her outdoor poops are runny too. The last few days she's just had terrible accidents in the house, big messes and all over a large space. I feel so bad for her and she's not being punished at all. As soon as we notice, we whisk them both outside for a walk and she gets lots of pets and cuddles because we know she's not doing it on purpose. She's house broken and does her best to wait. She also won't ask to go when she has these accidents - for normal potty time, she seeks us out to get our attention and make it known that she needs a walk. They have free range of the entire house.

She just seems SO anxious. She sits around looking like she got kicked (mopey face, slumped shoulders, sad tail), she bolts to my side when I sit down and crawls into my lap. If she can, she rests her face on my face. She doesn't seem to be in pain, her belly isn't tense or tender, she doesn't have any injuries, and she's always been a very skittish, anxious beast. We've been asked by several vets if we want to medicate her and always declined because we've always exercised her and significant positive, loving attention has eased her high strung behavior quite well. But now I'm not sure...

It's not fair to make her live like this, with all this anxiety and stress. It's not good for her health and it's certainly not good for her long term behavior. I'm afraid that if we leave her this anxious for too long, it'll become natural again and we will undo all the good progress we've made with her. She was getting so confident and becoming quite independent before we moved. 

She's 2 years old, at a healthy weight for her body (52 lb, give or take a pound). She eats twice a day, Hills Science Diet (grain-free) and the Kirkland wet food mixed in. She eats veggies and we avoid table food as often as possible. She gets some chicken here and there from the kids. She has 24/7 access to water. Any thoughts or experiences with doggie Prozac? Any suggestions for helping her (and my brand new carpet)???

Obviously we'll be going to see the vet soon...As soon as I find one I trust. We just switched in the last few months but they're too busy and too hectic, plus they can't figure out if Cal got all her vaccinations or not because their record keeping is abysmal and they put us at risk of losing our therapy dog insurance with their incompetence. I'm making phone calls to friends this week for recommendations.

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You can try Prozac, which didn't do a thing for Shoshone, who was pretty darn anxious and was taken from a really bad situation. Clomipramine worked like gangbusters. A few weeks after we started her on that, she was much better. We had a friend drop in who has Tourette's syndrome, she made little jerks and exclamations every few minutes. Shoshone would leave the room when she came to visit. After the clomipramine got in her system, she'd climb into our friend's lap or dance around her, waiting for treats. The difference was dramatic.

For the loose stools, if the meds don't help, try switching foods or adding yogurt, a tbs or so, to each meal. You can give cottage cheese, but that's got a lot of sodium in it.

Good luck! (ps ~ clomipramine is the generic version. At the time we were using it, it was very inexpensive, like 6 or 7 bucks US for a month's supply)

Ruth & Gibbs

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The indoor pooping could certainly be related to the stress of a big move, but it may not be.  You said you are taking her to a vet, and I would highly recommend that. It may be that she's stressed because her tummy hurts rather than that her tummy hurts because she's stressed.  Many years ago I had a dog that was eventually diagnosed with systemic lupus, but the first manifestation was recurring severe diarrhea.   It got so I could predict an impending massive bout of runny poops when I walked in the door coming home from work.  I would be met by a wide-eyed dog with ears pinned back.  Sure enough, within the next hour or two, there would be awful runny poop.  At least his early warning behavior alerted me to keep him outside until the attack was over, but my point is, his stressed behavior was because of his messed up digestive system, not vice versa. 

I tried many many different diets with him.  A few different grain free kibbles, a couple versions of home-made cooked diet with some grain, raw diet without grain ....  Finally, one day at my dog training club I was venting to a friend that I was on the verge of having the dog put down because he was in misery about half the time, and a vet tech overheard me and asked if I had tried Hills WD.   That gawd-awful crappy kibble full of grain and peanut hulls and preservatives saved that dog's life.   Seriously.    He had plenty of other health issues over the years, but once I switched to a kibble that I would ordinarily consider too awful to put in a landfill he never had a bout of diarrhea again, and the stressed out basket-case that he had become was replaced by a happy-go-lucky goof ball despite his other health problems.

I'm not saying that's the solution for your dog, but do consider that she may have some version of irritable bowel disorder/syndrome and be open to exploring other possible diets, and don't limit yourself to options that sound healthy to you.   It's what works for the dog that matters.

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