Monday, March 18, 2013

Hurricane Update Part 6: Is Xanax the Right Choice for Our Dog?

I'm not sure if this is working. 

Last time, I mentioned that Xanax is functioning as an anti-depressant for Desmond, and that's still true. He is definitely not depressed anymore. But he's still super freakin anxious. 

Here are some other effects that Xanax can have on dogs that we think we have seen in action:
  • muscle relaxant (can be used on purpose for this effect)
  • appetite stimulant (can be used on purpose for this effect)
  • clumsiness (considered a side effect)
  • sleepiness (considered a side effect)

Some of those were brief and subsided as we played around with the dosage and his body got used to the meds.


Here's a really interesting side effect:
Xanax may have a paradoxical effect in some dogs, and cause excitement or exacerbate aggressive behaviors.
We may have ourselves a problem here. And that sucks.

That sucks because I want Desmond to feel relaxed all the time, and that sucks because it means an unknown number of trips to the 40-minutes-away vet are in our future (which is just easier said than done right now).


I know this because we were at the vet over the weekend to finish up Desmond's vaccinations, and I figured I could talk to the doctor about our concerns. But the place was packed and the doc was overbooked (which, why do all doctors' offices do this??? cut it out.), so a vet tech just took Des from us to give him the shots and weigh him. We didn't get to see the vet. When I expressed my concerns to her, she went and relayed them to the doctor and came back with the following message:

"You need to make a behavior appointment at your home."

Le sigh...

A) I do not have a home. I do not have a place where my dog feels safe and comfortable. Hence: Xanax.

B) Yes, I know. I realize that this dog needs behavior modification. I do not need training in how to perform behavior modification. I am fully capable of doing it myself--on another dog. I am completely aware that I need to bring in help. This was all part of my original plan, as soon as I was done with my externship and shelter practicum for school. I was going to put all my energy into Desmond's reactivity training. Then Hurricane Superstorm Jerkface Sandy came. Hence: see A.

C) I am just barely functioning at a level that allows me to come off normal. I don't think there's much sense in my getting involved at all in something that's pretty delicate. At this point, 141 days since I've slept or cooked or peed in my own home, I have approximately zero patience and quickly escalate to frustration in response to the simplest of obstacles. I'm ahead of the game for being aware of that, but I'm certainly in no condition to work on a dog's behavior modification. There is a real risk that by working with Desmond now I could make things worse for him.


With the vet tech, I addressed only point A. She said we could just do the appointment at the office then, and it would be about a half hour long. OK, fine. We have an appointment for Desmond's gotcha day (ha ha, Des--gotcha! we're taking you to the vet on your special day. what a bunch of jerks we are, right?) in a couple weeks, but it's at night after work.

At night after work means two things: Desmond is going to be tired--maybe a little annoyed that he's not napping on the couch--and there are probably not going to be any other dogs there. We're not even sure if there is much of a point to this particular appointment, but it's the only time we can go. I guess we'll see what happens.

So that's the status with that. With the crate, he's definitely going in there to chill out and snooze on his own. I keep rewarding him for doing so. However, we haven't attempted to shut the door yet. We're going to wait on that a bit still. Maybe take him out to the park for a few hours first, so he's real tired. We have time--it's not like we're going home anytime soon. Work has still not even started on the house. But it will, at some point, I assume, one day.
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