08 June 2011

My dog on Prozac

I have vowed to write about "Reub's journey" every week or so, to help me stay motivated to work with this dog, helping him overcome anxiety, fear and aggression towards certain people and other dogs. This is where we are at right now, nearly a month into it all:

"Reconcile" comes with an arm's length of cautions and side effects
Three weeks ago when I asked Reub's vet about the possible side effects of Reconcile, the canine version of Prozac, she assured me that there were almost none. As it turns out, this isn't exactly true. While it does seem to have lowered his anxiety at crucial times, like when the door bell rings, or when we have to walk past assertive dogs, it hasn't been without side effects. These are, unsurprisingly, the same side effects that humans often have with this drug: bouts of restlessness, trembling and insomnia, interspersed with lethargy. Not to mention whining and a certain amount of weight loss. He doesn't seem to feel very good all of the time.

In the morning Reub now greets us happily, but not with the insane joy and crazed desire for his breakfast that we saw 4 weeks ago. We do miss his enthusiasm in the mornings. At night he whines in his crate and sleeps lightly. It doesn't always look like "lowered anxiety" and I wonder if it is the same way with humans. This is a very widely prescribed drug, yet I don't know anyone to ask about it. People, after all,  don't just walk up to you and say "Hi. I'm on Prozac. What would you like to know?"


Reub joins me, uninvited, as I try to read the Sunday paper in the swing under the oak tree in our back yard. (John's photo)

So it isn't all roses. However the doorbell no longer inspires him to go rigid with anxiety, and this is a very very good thing. We have had no re-occurrence of aggression towards people or dogs in the past 8 weeks. Of course we are very careful at all times, but still, this is good news. Next week, with our trainer,  we begin a class called Intermediate Obedience: Distance, Distraction, and Duration. We will work on handling Reub, and he will be exposed to new dogs, and new experiences in a controlled environment. He stays on Prozac, and we hope that it continues to be a useful tool despite the drawbacks.

**Update: October 30, 2011**  It has been five months since Reub started on Reconcile. He has in some ways returned to some of his joyous behaviors that disappeared during the first month of adjusting to this drug. Once again he springs about wildly, urging us to deliver his breakfast faster. He plays enthusiastically with his squeaky toys.
We're still very careful about keeping him on leash and avoiding situations where he might be aggressive. There have been no recurrences of aggression, and we think the drug has helped. I imagine some people have googled their way to this post...Please feel free to leave a comment if you have a question. (Your comment will appear after I've had a chance to read it.)


**Update: December 8, 2012**
The makers of Reconcile are having trouble keeping up with the demand this fall, so our vet has just prescribed human fluoxetine for Reub. The dosage is different. He was getting 32mg of Reconcile, but now he gets 2 20mg capsules of generic prozac. He made the transition without any problems. For a few days we tried him on a half dose (20 mg) wondering if that would do it, but it turned out to be a bad idea. He quickly became increasingly tense around the kittens (I fostered a mama cat & her litter & kept two of them), to the point where I thought he was a danger to them. Putting him back on the 40mg seems to have helped.

Funny, when I went to the pharmacy to pick up the drug, they wondered "if you're the lady with the German Shepherd..." Ha! There's somebody else in town with a psycho dog! Kinda comforting.

**Update May 14, 2013**
A lot of people are googling into this post from nearly 2 years ago. We still have Reub; he's still on fluoxetine; he continues to improve. I should write about it again, but if you want the history behind Reub, here it is.

207 comments:

  1. poor boy. i hope the side effects will abate as time goes on. i hate to hear about the restlessness and not sleeping ones.

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  2. You're taking such good care of him! Who knows what he's going through ... I know people on Prozac but even they can't explain what it does or how it works. When humans start taking it, they are rather desperate for relief. That's all I know.

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  3. My sister's cat is on prozac. I should ask her about side effects. That is interesting, I wonder if adjusting the dose would help at all.

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  4. Rebecca, I called to ask about lowering the dose, but the vet said to first try giving it to him in the evening rather than the morning. So that's what we're doing.

    Cats go on Prozac too?

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  5. Maybe Reub will someday write a doggie version of "Listening to Prozac."

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  6. Interesting. Cat's version of prozac is catnip and it doesn't last long but is fun to watch. Wishing the best for your pup. Finding balance?

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  7. Snow, I see that there are a whole bunch of books about prozac out there, but they sound so depressing I don't want to read them. I am so glad Reub can't write another one!

    Shopgirl, I wish catnip worked for Reub; it would be so much cheaper.

    Balance, indeed. Do dogs understand this concept?

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  8. Our nine year old Labby has been put onto Prozac because she has started fretting a rediculous amount. She is a failed guide dog so has always been with people, but now that our family is older - all our kids are teens, we are sooo much busier than we used to be, and as her hearing and eyesight have started to deteriorate, she has just gotten worse and worse. We love her so very much and hate seeing her so sad. If we went away and left her with Nanna who she loves, and she would howl and howl and vomit and dihorrea every day. She would also salivate excessively. Our dilemma now though, is that even though the meds are working and she's much much calmer, she's not really our puppy that we love. We all feel like we're living with a shell of a dog. She no longer eats tidbits she previously drooled over. She doesn't play anymore but just sleeps. We have been considering putting her down because it would be kinder than making her live like this. I'm so torn - she's been such an amazing dog, but I really just don't think Prozac has been the answer for our much loved puppy. :(

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    1. Ahh, this is tough. Reub took a couple of months to adjust. He did lose his appetite at first, and acted drugged, but eventually changed back to a dog more like himself. We also changed when we dosed him, from AM to PM, and that helped some. Now he gets his pill every night before going to bed. The vet says that we could try a half dose; maybe that would work for your dog?

      Also, many people see a positive effect from using a thunder jacket. If I had a dog without aggression issues I would definitely give that a try.

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    2. It is so reassuring to find other people wade through life's problems in much the way that I am trying to do.
      My 12 year old female labrador who is such a gorgeous girl has always shown signs of separation anxiety. But lately it has got worse with acute anxiety and panic attacks night and day even when she is in our midst. Wakes up 2-3 times a night,when right next to us, trembling, panting, hyperventilating. Would a combination of Comicalm and Prozac be better at this stage to combat both acute and chronic anxiety? PLlease share your thoughts. My vet is reluctant to prescribe and has only put her on Zylkene.

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    3. Hi Twiggy,I would definitely get a second opinion on this one. Prozac hasn't been evaluated when given along with certain other drugs, but I don't know which ones those are, or what the possible risks might be. Different vets are willing to take different risks. "Reconcile" for example is officially anyway, NOT supposed to be prescribed for treatment of aggression, which is what we're doing. But the line between aggression and anxiety is invisible, sooo...our vet gives the go-ahead.

      Twiggy, has your dog had her thyroid evaluated? It could be a thyroid problem, and that's treatable.

      Best of luck with your sweet girl.

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  9. I am so happy that I stumbled upon your blog. I have recently started giving my dog Prozac. He is a 6 yr old English Bulldog, who has a biting problem. It has been 3 wks and he does act sad and drugged. He is still having a bite reflex but does not connect the bite. He seems to have some trembling and balance issues. He is afraid of the stairs or jumping down from something. I am glad to hear that the "dopieness" wears off as he adjusts. Thank you for taking the time to write this. I was giving up hope of being able to keep my dog alive.

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    1. Reub had trembling too. I forgot to mention that.

      I wonder if there is a good trainer in your area, somebody who could intervene with the bite reflex? There are probably some techniques. Some dogs hold a fave toy in their mouths & it prevents them from having that reflex. Distraction techniques of various kinds must be available?

      Is your boy free of the joint pain that can bother bulldogs? I wonder if that could add to his fear of jumping down.

      I love bulldogs.

      Well, good luck. Write again or email me!

      For more on Reub's issues, and a few short videos that may make you feel better, click on "Reub's journey" in the sidebar where it says "I Repeat Myself"

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    2. I'm so glad I came across this through google. I started my 4 year old English Bulldog on Prozac about a week ago. He had torn both his ACLs (no recovering from surgery) and is adjusting to life with a new baby. My sweet puppy suddenly started growling at people when they came in the house so we had a Canine behavioralist come over and she prescribed Prozac. A week in and he seems a little sad and nervous today. I'm hoping it's just an off day. I'd love to hear how your dogs are doing now. I just want my puppy to be back to normal :(

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    3. Hi Lindsay! Yes, we noticed the sadness and nerves at first too. It took awhile to adjust. We just now started giving him people-prozac since Reconcile has a shortage going on. I will post here about that after a few days of observing him. It's time for an update. Generally speaking, things are still going well. But it takes constant vigilance plus the drug. And now we have two kittens for the dogs to adjust to, so there's an added stress level.

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  10. Hi, My 8 year old dog is on Reconcile since 12 days ans i am glad to see that the side effects he is having right now will maybe go away.
    Thanks for sharing

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    1. Got my fingers crossed that it works for your boy. It does take time, but for Reub anyway, the side effects vanished. It helped a little to medicate at night.

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  11. I can't describe in words how happy I was when I found your blog. I have a female chihuahua mix rescue dog from Puerto Rico and she'll be 7 in April. (She was 2 when I adopted her) I was told that she was born on the street and never had any human contacts. At that time, I really had no idea that I was about to face so many obstacles but I guess I just wanted to give her a good home. It's been very tough and challenging but she came a long way. Many of my friends can't believe that this is the same dog that I adopted. It wasn't easy and I really have to be patient as you know. My biggest challenge is her aggression towards dogs (and certain people...but it's getting better) during our walks. She is okay in a doggie daycare and dog parks but I really have to be careful. If I see rambunctious puppies, we don't go in because my dog doesn't see the behavior as playful and she can get aggressive. Her aggression was getting worse and I decided to get more opinions from a dog trainer (I have had several dog trainers and consulted an animal behaviorist in the past). She recommended to put her on medication and do training sessions together but I really resisted because to me, medication=bad :( Besides being aggressive, she's always on the lookout and looks worried when she's outside. Last week, she had a check-up and I thought I could ask Dr. how he feels about it. When we got to the front entrance of the vet office, my dog started lunging and barking. There was a life sized wall sticker of a dog on the door. I was shocked but that was the moment that I changed my mind about medication. "Maybe it could take the edge off...and she feels happier??"
    It's been 5 days since I put her on Reconcile. She still shows aggression and I have no idea if this gets better. Dr. says it could possibly take up to 2-3 weeks before I see significant benefit from the medication. Yesterday, she didn't have much appetite and she just slept through while my husband and I were having dinner which is very unusual. Sometimes she looks sad :(
    I give her a pill in the morning but I feel like I should give her a pill before going to bed. I wonder if it'll help?!?! It's 7:30pm here. She was snoring loud earlier and she's completely out :(
    And I just want to say that I truly appreciate your story :)

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    1. Hey Mari, it sounds like you're doing everything you can for your girl. Any puppy that hasn't had socialization at a young age is bound to have challenges like you describe. The fact that you're aware of the kinds of situations that will set your dog off, that's huge. If she can go to doggie daycare...I'm SO impressed. I've stopped taking Reub to the dog park because he just doesn't enjoy it, & our trainer said to not go there b/c you can never be sure about the other dogs.

      Reub's edge is definitely down a notch, but it took months. Give it some time! You're awesome.

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  12. Hi Kerry, thanks for the encouraging words.
    She started eating again and she wanted to "help" doing dishes this morning :D
    She used to get riled up couple times a day inside the house but I noticed that she is not doing that anymore. She's sometimes staring at something for a while...

    It's been about a year since she started going to the daycare which is in our neighborhood. When it opened, I thought it was a boarding facility. As soon as I found out that that wasn't what I was looking for, I was a bit disappointed. I wasn't even interested in a daycare anyway 'cause I never imagined she would be able to "mingle" with other dogs. The owner offered me an assessment. I was a bit hesitant due to her past history but much to my surprise, she did well. He says that she's not like actively playing with other dogs but she watches and follows them. If she doesn't want to play, she would "tell" them gently to back off a bit. Then I learned that she would do better if she's not leashed ('cause she was a stray????) Anyway...I take her there once a week. The people who work there are wonderful. She's well loved. The dog park is a bit stressful for me though... 'cause it all depends on who is going to be there. And I never know. I do avoid going there on busy weekends. Dogs and people are there to socialize with their own species :D so not much supervision. Oh! How I wish I could do that...

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    1. You know, it sounds like you have things under control. I like how you have been constant in your vigilance, and it's so great that she goes to doggie daycare once a week, where there are understanding supervisors skilled with dogs. It can only help.

      I used to love going the dog park. Those days are over:( But with that aside, we have a good time with both of our dogs. Reub is now unfazed 90% of the time that we go on walks where we meet other canines; two years ago I couldn't have said that. So I guess I shouldn't complain about giving up the dog park.:)

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  13. Thank you for this wonderful post and the updates. Our sweet pit-lab mix has recently been prescribed "doggie prozac". She has always had a bit of seperation anxiety but we crate her and her sister during the day or when we go out and she has always loved her house. Recently she began chewing through the metal bars to escape and essential destroyed her house. We were concerned about the damage she could cause to her teeth so we consulted our vet. He originally suggested giving her Benydral during the day but it had no effect. He prescribed prozac and we started treatment on Dec 22nd. I have been concerned that there was something medically wrong because she has lost her appetite. Reading about your boy having a similar side effect has helped ease my anxiety about her health. I now have hope that we will see an improvement with time. Thank you again for sharing your story

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    1. Hi Manders! Doggie prozac is the drug of choice for separation anxiety & hopefully it will help your girl, along with a rigorous exercise program to wear her out:) If she's anything like Reub, she will regain her appetite after time goes by. Best of luck to you, and thanks for leaving a comment!

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  14. Hi all! I was so thrilled to find this blog! My 9 year old Chihuahua started his Prozac today! I've thought about putting him on this for such a long time, but I was too scared thinking he's going to be dopey and not like himself. Or what if he has a reverse effect?! So many thoughts ran through my head. Macho, my chi, has had anxiety and aggression his whole life! I got him from a breeder at 10 weeks old... He's had a great life but is so very angry. He's gotten worse with age. He goes after everyone and every dog. He barks and lunges at my husband daily and will actually snap at me! Now we have a baby on the way so the Prozac is our last hope!! I love my dog more than anyone in this world and all I want is to be able to have my baby and not worry about him being a lunatic. I have high hopes!!!

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    1. Kristen, My best wishes to you and Macho! You are smart to try and get a grip on this before the baby arrives. I hope the vet did a blood test to count out thyroid problems? Fingers crossed that everything works for you.

      There are some good Dog Whisperer episodes with clues on how to deal with aggressive small dogs. Good luck!

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    2. Hi! Update** it's been 2 weeks since Macho has been on the meds and so far I couldnt be happier. He has not once groweled or lunged at my husband (who was his main target before). He's not dopey and is eating normal. I have noticed him trembling a bit and waking up in the middle of the night restless, however so far I am very happy with what Im seeing. I hope he continues to go in the right direction.

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    3. YAAAAAY!!!!!!! So happy for you guys.

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  15. My dog has been on prozac for about 2 months for separation anxiety. I adopted him from a Shar-pei rescue. Everytime we leave our house he would destroy something ( focusing more on the front door where we exit ). As of today, there has been no change. They even have me give him a mild sedative thats given to him 1 hour before leaving the house. With that hes pretty good for about 5 hours or so. I dont know what to do with him, its driving me nuts. He even pees in the house when we leave! I need help!

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    1. Oh wow, that's tough. Probably why he ended up in rescue, and because of being in rescue he might be extra panicked when you leave.

      You probably can't take him to work, but how is he when left in the car? Better yet, does he get along with other dogs well enough to be left at a doggie day care? Because that would be ideal.

      This sounds crazy, but you could try craigslist and see if there is somebody nearby who would like a daytime canine buddy, a sort of private doggy-nanny-sitter.

      It takes about 2 months for the prozac to work. On the side, as you know, he needs tons of exercise. Sounds like your vet is on top of it. Five hours is a good long time for a sedative to work; is there somebody who could come to your home and walk him after 4 or 5 hours?

      Oh I hope things work out for you.Best of luck to you.

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    2. If you have a dog pool, try taking the dog there. With the help of the Hydrotherapist, Prozac and three 20 minute swims per week, reduced to twice after three weeks has helped immensely. See my post below. I am Louise with Chica. If there is no pool, try another form of sustained exercise. You never know, it might help.

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    3. The vet suggested reduced the Prozac to 20 per day, then maybe we can go to 10. Because she is on trilostane for Cushings and that can also affect the appetite, we were advised to stop giving her that for a day or so. She also gave us cyproheptadine, which is an antihistamine to Stimulate her appetite for a day or two. She is much better today and we will conntinue on the Prozac reduction path. Thanks everyone.

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    4. This is all great information, Louise. Thank you. I especially like the swimming, so good for anxious dogs.

      And thank you for keeping folks up-to-date on the meds. Everybody who googles into this site wonders about meds or they wouldn't be here.

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  16. Hello, my 10 year old dalmatian has just been prescribed fluoxetine (prozac) for generalised anxiety that he has had since I picked him from the litter as an 8 week old. The reason it is not so manageable now is that (unexpectedly) and Spot (Jackson) was a mess without him. 6 months later we decided it was time to adopt a new friend. We met a few dogs and Spot chose Cooper who was a 6 month old lab x staffy (who is now about 20 months old). What has developed over the last 15 months is a series of fights that has got worse - as Jackson's anxiety and insecurity has lead to significant jealousy issues. So I was a bit darned if I did/darned if I didn't.

    I have done a lot of work with trainers and behaviourists and I have seen improvements, but I believe (as does the veterinary behaviourist) that it will work a lot better with a more relaxed and confident Spot. So once I collect the script on Saturday Spot will start on his meds.

    What time is best to give him the meds? I am mindful that he will take several weeks to settle in to the drug (if indeed it is suitable for him - like humans, one pill does not fix all)... (I am a human nurse) so I would prefer him to be exhibiting less symptoms during the day when he is outside with the other dog (and I am at work) so there is minimal argy bargy. What is the general consensus?

    Many thanks for your posts - they were a good read!

    Kind Regards

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    1. Hey mshell, Sounds like you have sought some good help.

      We give Rueb's meds at night b/c when we gave them in the AM he was so whiny and restless in his crate every night, a side effect I guess of the decreasing % of the drug in his system. But I think it might be best to start out giving the dosage in the AM maximizing the effect during the daytime hours.

      Do you think that Cooper has been challenging the pack order, causing Spot to be more insecure? There are a couple of things you can do to ease Spot's fears. One is to always feed him first, even if it means putting his bowl down just seconds before you feed Cooper. When you go out the door with them, you go out 1st, Spot second, Cooper 3rd. Little clues that show him you respect his position, and Cooper will follow suit.

      Dog fights are awful. Fingers crossed that your house becomes more peaceful.

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  17. I have Chica. She is a 14 year old retriever x st. Bernard x with others. We moved house on Nov. 9. She had a rough time adjusting, got into the cat food and developed pancreatitis and severe anxiety. We used to call her Miss Mellow, but she became a basket case. On Dec. 22 after she had been awake and standing up panting, drooling and pacing for 35 hours, we took her to a specialist. To cut a long story short, she was prescribed a couple of drugs to make her sleep because we had to do something to stop the behaviour immediately. Prozac was prescribed along with the other drugs about 6 weeks ago and we have weaned her off the other drugs. She finally sleeps at night without drugs. The Prozac seems to make her extra sleepy and slows her appetite, but hopefully those things will diminish. She was also prescribed medicam for arthritis and is less active than she used to be, I also take her swimming at the dog hydrotherapy pool twice per week. The swimming has REALLY helped and I can't say enough about it. When we first started going there her anxiety was still really bad and on swimming days, after swimming she almost returned to her old self. She goes for about 8 laps per session one lap at a time resting in between and the Hydrotherapist keeps her in a life jacket. I am still sleeping in the living room to make sure she is ok during the night but we are almost there. We can finally leave her at home while we go to work as long as we baby gate her into the living room. Much better than leaving her in the car. It has been a long three months, but I think we are finally getting our old girl back. She is still strong and mostly healthy at 14.

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    1. Louise! This is quite a success story! Congratulations on your commitment to helping Chica; it's certainly paying off. I will be interested to know in the future if you are able to take her off Prozac as well.

      Our vet has a hydrotherapy option, mostly for dogs with arthritis, or obesity problems. Great for big dogs! It makes sense that it would help decrease anxiety as well, just as exercise does for people. Good work! Hang in there, and maybe soon you can sleep in your own bed. :)

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    2. Hello again, This is a good resource. It makes you relaize there are others with these issues! Her anxiety has completely disappeared and life is returning to normal.
      I am trying to wean her off the prozac as her appetite isn't coming back, even though we have now been on prozac for about ten weeks. She is also somewhat sleepier than usual. It is incredibly hard to get her to eat, esp. in the mornings. We will be going to the vet tomorrow to learn more about weaning her off. If anyone has any weaning off experiences they would like to share, I would love to read them.
      THANKS!!!

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    3. Yes, folks, please do share about weaning experiences. When we lowered Reub's dosage, his anxiety seemed to creep up, so we have to continue indefinitely. At least the generic human fluoxetine is cheaper than Reconcile was. I still like to think that at some point he could go off of this drug.

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  18. So good to hear others' experiences with their canine family members and this drug.

    My little Bill, a 17 lb. terrier, developed terrible behaviors after my husband died five months ago. He would bark viciously at me for hours on end. I know he was missing Mike ~ they had a very special bond ~ but I couldn't bring him back and Bill would bark and I would cry. So sad.

    He would get up in the middle of the night to go look for him, no luck. Come back and sleep restlessly.

    The Prozac has helped. I give it at night and it puts him to sleep and lets him get a full night's rest. He's sleepy in the morning and often stays in bed while I get up with Deaf Betty, our other terrier mix. It's been a big help. BIG help. The barking is minimal now, he no longer gets up. We're all adjusting, and this drug seems to have helped Bill.

    Just for the record, he wasn't a well behaved doggy before, but Mike kept him in line. Deaf Betty stuck with me like a cockleburr. I'm a poor substitute for my husband in Bill's eyes, certain of that. But I couldn't bear the thought of him miserably unhappy and unable to cope.

    One thing I'm wondering: Bill has developed a lot of runniness in his eyes. Has anyone heard of this being correlated with Prozac? I am making an appointment with an opthalmologist, but went to Google tonight to search that correlation and found you all here.

    Thanks for the good info and hopeful stories.

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    1. Hi Lynette, So sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. I bet it's not unusual to observe behavioral changes in dogs when there is such a big change in "the pack." Good to know that the Prozac at night has helped. I haven't heard that runny eyes are a side effect, but I do know that some dogs/people can have allergic reactions such as swelling in the face, and runny noses. It's good that you're seeing an ophthalmologist; the doc should be able to tell you if it's related to fluoxetine. Feel free to leave another comment when you find out, and let us know if Bill's eyes clear up.

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    2. My bulldog has the runny eye problem. I couldn't find any listed side effects and I was wondering if it was his Glucosomine but no relevant side effects were listed. My vet told me to wipe his eyes with a warm wash cloth to clean them off.
      Let me know if you heard anything different from the opthamologist!

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  19. Hello everyone
    My dog Skye has been on Prozac for about 4 months and I have noticed lately that she has loose stools.Does anyone else have problems with the drug.Other than that it seems to work very well as she is a different dog to the one she was.Thanks Julie.

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    1. Hi Julie,
      Yes, unfortunately gastrointestinal side effects are possible. We haven't noticed it with Reub, but I read that it is a possibility:( Better ask your vet if you need to adjust Skye's diet to compensate for this. Good luck!

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  20. I have had my dog medicated for about a month. I have noticed some improvements but he now is lothargic at times and now gets the trembles before I leave for work. Granted he doesnt bark when I leave anymore but it scares me so I find myself sitting with him to sooth him before leaving. Also he is less aggressive on walks now BUT when he does get aggitated its worse than ever...like hes trying to get out of his harness to get to the object of his anger. I never wanted to medicate him but he was biting people and I felt obligated to try it. He has not bit anyone recently but of course it is still a constant fear. Should I stick with it and see how it goes for a few more months or should I go with my gut and take him off his meds?

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    1. Hi Jamie:
      Once a dog has bitten it will be a constant threat, forever and always, whether or not he's medicated. :(

      With Reub (who bit two people, but luckily broke no skin) we will never be without this fact looming in the background. But we took him to a trainer who helped us pinpoint the situations in which biting happened. Our goal is to never ever put him in those situations again, even though he's been on fluoxetine for nearly 2 years now & is much improved, with lower flashpoints. He's a much safer dog now, due not just to the drug (which has certainly helped) but also to our own better vigilance. He gets an insane amount of exercise as well.

      Before going with your gut and taking your boy off the meds you should definitely consult your vet. I assume the vet has done blood tests to rule out other causes of aggression & has recommended a trainer to help you. Our experience with canine prozac was that it took a few months for it to work. The trembling stopped after that & his appetite & energy level resumed. But he never had the side effect of increased aggression as some dogs do, so that's something your vet needs to know.

      Bottom line: The increased aggression is worrisome. But don't take him off the drug until you consult your vet.

      Sideline comment: I went through a spell of increased anxiety myself, worrying about Reub every time we approached other dogs/people...of course this was contagious to my dog! It helped to hand the leash to my mellow husband, who correctly pointed out that I was making things worse. :0)

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  21. My dog is a rescue who was mistreated so strangers and trust are his issues. I definitely talk to my vet and will consult her before I decide. I am looking into trainging for him. I have had him for less than 2 years and he is a great dog and very social with the people and dogs that he spends time with but of course he is not ever going to know all of my neighbors as I live in a city...food is a great motivator and distraction for him usually but of course its not working momentarily. So yes I will continue to medicate him for the time being. I have realized that he recognizes my stress and tension when walking him so I have consciously tried to be more relaxed but stern with him when walking him. I hope for the best outcome and I do appreciate your insight!

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    1. Jamie, your story resonates with me, as Reub is also a rescue with unknown baggage in his background. Fingers crossed and all the best to you and your boy.

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  22. Wow, this is like a photo snapshot of my labradoodle who just turned two. I brought her home at five months of age, cute as ever. I thought this breed was fun and relaxed and smart. Soon found out she was very shy and somewhat forward. Highly reactive to door and new people despite my work to desensitize her. Have a friend who is a dog behavioralist, so I've had her in many classes for socialization and training, but she seems to stay what she was. Its like her mind was always racing and ADHD. We have absolutely fallen in love with her despite the challenges. She is in a home with a couple other calm dogs which is why she hasn't shown true separation anxiety. I've been thinking about some form of anxiety meds for a while but didn't know if I was right in that. Talked to my vet and we started her 4 days ago of 20mg of fluoxetine. Surprised at how quickly I am noticing changes. Much much calmer and not racing around all the time like normal. One side effect that troubles me is napping more. I was glad to hear one of the responses say this balances out in time. Before reading this I did switch the meds to evening and I think that is better. I'll monitor and if she can go down in dosage I'm fine with that. All new wish us luck. Thanks

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    1. Goes to show that pretty much any breed can have anxiety issues, I guess. Reub takes twice the dosage as your girl & has successfully overcome most of those weird dopey side effects that showed up during the first months. Dosing in the PM was helpful for him as well.

      Best of luck to you!

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  23. really happy and grateful to have found this blog as our 11 year old lab was prescribed generic Prozac yesterday. He has a recurrent infection and just yesterday the vet said he is causing it by licking. He asked if he is under stress. I feel he lives the life of Riley and is a happy dog. My mate thinks he is "henpecked" by our younger female (everyone is neutered) dogs. I would be askance at Prozac for myself and am for Dude, but this blog has given me some reassurance. I will have to watch him for effect, but several weeks is a long time to experiement! thanks for the heads up on things I might expect

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    1. awww, poor Dude. Does he lick his paws? Could be arthritis, but of course your vet would know to look for that.

      Yeah, it took weeks for Reub to adjust to this med. But eventually all of the side effects wore off. I wish you the best of luck with this:)

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  24. So glad I found this blog! I have a 2 year old Mastiff/Lab mix named Titus. I rescued Titus at 2 months old from the local shelter. He is the sweetest, most loving pup ever. Never met a stranger (human or dog). Since adopting Titus, I take him with my every Friday to happy hour. I wanted to make sure he was well socialized and not fearful of loud situations. He has exceled in social settings. Now...for the bad things. Titus has had seperation anxiety since a pup. I attempted the crate training, but he would bend the metal on the crate and slip out. I was scared he was going to end up injuring himself in the crate. So I stopped. As of the last year, he has shown major signs of anxiety, only at home. Here are some triggers: company at the home, me talking on my cell phone, me cooking dinner (this is a new one), me going out into the yard without him. Symptoms: barking, not normall attention barking, but pacing, running back and forth barking. He literally looks like he is in panic mode. I have tried ignoring the behavior, I have tried time outs, I have tried giving him toys, Ive tried taking him outside to play, pheramone collars, benedryl. Nothing. This weekend the vet placed him on 40mgs of Prozac (he's a big boy...82lbs). I have given him only given him one dose because the way he was acting scared me. He was very lethargic, refuses to eat (even with peanut butter in his food), acting spooked. Do these symptoms go away? I'm trying to out weigh the good and bad. The barking is driving me nuts, breaking my heart. He looks pysically upset, traumatized. But I also don't want him to have a negative reaction to the medication. Any help you can give me would be great!

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    1. Poor Titus; imagine being that anxious. Sounds like you're doing everything a good owner should do. Play time with other dogs & people is great. Labs need an insane amount of exercise, but if he's big like a mastiff you have to be careful of wear on his joints, don't you? Opportunities to swim?

      Reub definitely exhibited the same symptoms that you describe. It was especially noticeable for the 1st 3-4 weeks, then gradually he returned to himself (minus the alarming number of of new triggers that he had been adding to his list of craziness before being medicated.) After being on fluoxetine for 2 years (now at 40mgs, just like Titus, only Reub weighs just 62 lbs) he doesn't act drugged at all. But at first it was upsetting to see him look so bleary-eyed and uninterested in food or play. It helped to give the med at night.If after another week or two you're seeing no change then I would ask the vet if a reduced dosage was in order. Also, Titus might be comforted by wearing a thunder jacket.

      We are all interested to know how this plays out for Titus. Please share what works/doesn't work. Best of luck for your sweet boy!

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    2. I have tried swimming and he hates the water. Last week I took him on a long walk. You could tell that he was whooped aftewards..but that only lasted about an hour. I hate the thought of him being constantly drugged because he doesn't always have these panic attacks. Yesterday my mother visited my home for about an hour. The entire time she was there, Titus barked uncontrollably, running from living room to halway and back. He was physically shaking. All because we had a visitor in the home. I will continue to give him the Prozac and hope for the best. Do you know how hard it is to wean them off once its no longer needed? Thats a hug concern for me. I will keep everyone posted with our progress. Thank you for your site! It makes me feel a little more comfort in giving him the medication.

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    3. I don't know too much about the weaning-off process, but I suppose it's different from case to case. You cut back slowly. We tried cutting Reub back to 30 mgs last year, but he started to act more anxious/aggressive towards our foster kittens, so I beefed it back up to 40. The vet seems to think he may have to stay on it for the duration. I wish it weren't so, but at least the human generic fluoxetine is less expensive than Reconcile.

      There is a series of calming exercises available via MP3 from dog trainers. If you have a professional trainer they could advise you on that, and it may be worth a try. The exercises involve having your dog gradually learn to relax in a sit during stressful situations. We did it some with Reub, with mixed results.

      Gosh, what we do for our dogs.

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  25. Hi All,

    I am glad to find this blog. I have a great dane that is 2 yrs old on Fluoxetine. ( I have been owned by 10 prior, NONE that had any personality issues whatsoever) I bought her from someone that didn't tell the truth about her history and found after the fact she had been not only neglected initially, but abused by the woman's ex husband to the point of biting another puppy in the home and experiencing a false pregnancy, causing major hormonal upheavals. Once ensconced in our family, we immediately took her to 2 different vets for evaluation. One wanted me to put her down and the other was willing to help me work with her by medication for her severe separation anxiety and fears. Throughout the past year, we have experienced aggressive behaviors, incessant barking, growling, fear of other animals, fear of going on walks, dislike of men in general, people wearing hats, sunglasses, fast movements, etc. We started ehr on 20 mg, upped to 40, seemed to not make much difference so I decided it was time to wean her down. After only a few days on the 20, she exhibited aggressive behavior, growling, barking non stop, would not listen to commands and was snapping at us when corrected. We decided to put her back on the 40 which she was on for another 3 months until a 10 day boarding with an accidental increase to 60 a day. She behaved beautifully and was so good with people and strangers as well as moving and having my mother come live with us. I was shocked! Last week, she suddenly became ill with vomiting blood and bloody diarrhea, in no relation to the fluoxetine as far as we know. The vet (the first one that wanted me to put her down initially) saw her and felt it was stress related so kept her for a few days, failing to give her the 60 a day of her meds, Claimed she was fine there and didn't want her back on it. I disagreed and put her back on 40 since she had missed 4 days and within 2 days was back at vet w/ the same issues...they again never did xray, stool sample, anything, jsut decided she was sterssed and took her off prozac cold turkey - which is NOT ever recommended...she was there 5 days and they claimed she did GREAT - she was in a cage, not real life. She came home Monda and was a nervous wreck, panting, following me all over, whining when I was out of her site and incessantly barking as well as acting very erratic in the house. The only time she acted normal was when we went to bed and she curled up with me. She has acted aggressively to people she knows and growling, showing her teeth and nipping at me while being corrected for her behavior. I called the vet today and told them she needs to be back on it and they want me to start her back at her full dose- I will have to increase slowly as I have read the material and know you do not start them at the high dose...either way, this dog needs this medicine, maybe for life so we can have somewhat of a normal life. I am and have been from the beginning very cautious with her around others and never let her around children just in case. I have consulted 3 behavouralists as well as pet intuitives, all agree she needs the med to keep her in check.

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    1. Wow Becky. You've really been through a lot with your girl. It's so important with all dogs (but especially large breeds) to keep behavior issues from ruining everybody's lives. Looks like you are on the right trajectory with your dog, and have identified the things that work best: especially getting the dosage right. Reub, at 62 lbs, gets 40mg of fluoxetine, so I'm not at all surprised that a Great Dane would need 60mg.
      It doesn't sound like that first vet should get your business any more. I'm curious why that doc didn't want to prescribe fluoxetine; did he/she believe that it would cause increased aggression? I wonder. It sounds too, like your dog is comforted by being in a crate, and that was the only thing they saw during the time she was with them.
      Your dog is clearly helped by being on Prozac, and that is good to know.Thanks for sharing your story, and we wish you the best of luck.

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  26. I have a 11 month old doxie-pin (Lucy) I rescued about 7 months ago. I just started prozac this week. Lucy is about 10 pounds, and the vet said to start her off on half an 8 mg pill. Like many people above I have tried it all to help her overcome her fear of people, dogs, a blade of grass blowing in the wind, etc. I have done group training classes as well as a private trainer coming to the house. She goes to a small doggie daycare once a week, and I go to the dog park (that took several months for her to warm up too). Since on the prozac her nervousness seems to be WORSE! If she hears something outside instead of barking it is now a growl! She is shaky, and I have noticed she is not going to the bathroom as much. Yesterday she was nervous to go up my neighbor who she loves (one of the few people she will let touch her).

    How long should I see a more aggressive pattern? Will this tapper off with time as she adjusts?

    Thank you for your blog. There is not much "real" info out there.

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    1. Hey Anonymous! Welcome to the Worried Owners of Crazy Dogs Club. Like Lucy, Reub is a rescue dog with baggage. We'll never really know what went on in the past that affects his spiraling behaviors that are now held in check by this med.

      It is true that some dogs experience increased aggression with the use of fluoxetine, and that may well be what you are seeing with your girl. But maybe not. She's only been on it for a week, and the trembling is not at all unusual at first. And is a growl really more aggressive than a bark? That's a really great question for a dog behaviorist. My take: obviously she's feeling the drug in some way and is dealing with the weird transition. I would give her at least 4-6 weeks & then re-evaluate.

      Reub is 6x your doxipin's weight & he gets 40mgs of this stuff, quite a bit more than she's getting per pound of body weight. According to Becky, above, an increased dosage was helpful. But before you go for that, perhaps try giving this at a different time of day. We had to change from dosing in the AM to giving it to him just before bed; that seemed to decrease the side effects.

      Anonymous, I'm not a vet. Be sure you check with your vet, too. And if you think of it, leave a comment here in the future to let us know what happened. We're all just groping around for the right answer.

      I wish you the very very best of luck.

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    2. Thank you so much for responding. I will keep you posted as we progress down this journey. I went to the vet Sat and she mentioned sometimes in fearful dogs it lowers inhabitations. When this happens anxiety can go higher to compensate. I do not want Lucy more stressed than need be. I am also on the look out for a behavior specialist that can help with modification. We have to put the work in now to be a happy forever team :).

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    3. A behavior specialist is a great idea. Let us know what works!

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  27. Hi,
    It is so wonderful to find this blog because I am worried sick about having to put my boy on drugs. Beta is 14 months old. Frankly, I was put off by my vet when she suggested meds for his separation anxiety 6 months ago.Beta was having a hard time being crated; he would bite and bend the wires and eventually disassembled the crate all together. He also started barking when I leave the house, and would continue for the entire time I was gone. It was a very difficult time with neighbors, but a behavioral medication for a 6 months old pup? I don't think so. I managed to curb his barking and confining him in my dining room instead of the crate without meds. I did and still do a lot of work to reenforce his confidence and independence. I make sure I leave the house even on the weekends and wait until he calms down to greet him when I got home. He continued to display behaviors that seemed normal for a puppy; he scratched the threshold of the back door and chewed up towels, shopping bags and back packs while I wasn't home. Other than that, he did great in obedience classes, has his CGC, plays at dog parks, and loves daycare. Last Monday however, he started acting disinterested in his food and displayed increasing anxiety when I leave the house. I came home Wed night and found a chewed up window screen and my dog missing. The absolute horrible part is that I live on the second floor. There was nothing outside of that window to break his fall, just asphalt. He did not have his collar on and he is dark brown. I thought he is either severely wounded(60lbs, not a little guy) or could have been hit by a car. I was screaming his name and frantically looking for him in the backyard with a flashlight when he ran up my driveway without a single scratch on him. I was so shaken by the incident even though I was so joyous that he came back to me unharmed. I wanted to believe it was just an accident and I can still have his anxiety under control. I came home today after work (Friday) and found he had ripped all the shades off my windows and ripped up the linoleum flooring in my dinning room. He was still pacing and drooling after I got home. I felt so helpless as I could not figure out the trigger for the sudden onset of such destructive anxiety. I want to work on his behavior without drugs but now I am so afraid he is going to hurt himself. We are going to the Vet tomorrow morning to discuss my options. I am so anxiety-ridden myself that I feel that I need Prozac. This blog brought me a little relief and some hope. Beta is such a wonderful dog, I just want to help him get back to his old self and stop suffering.

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    1. Oh my gosh! What a terribly scary thing to live on the 2nd floor and see that hole in the screen. Jeesh. Not to mention the blinds and the linoleum. Definitely time for a talk with your vet. She will give you a range of options that will probably include a blood test. Maybe a pheromone collar. Possibly a Thunder Jacket. Swimming therapy? And definitely Reconcile/fluoxetine, the first drug recommended for separation anxiety. Exercise the bejeepers out of him. And know that it takes weeks for the drug to take hold, with some troubling side effects at first.

      Having a dog like this is very anxiety-inducing. Take care of yourself as well. :0)

      Fingers and toes crossed for Beta. Thank you for loving him. Take a deep breath now, and do the best you can.

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  28. Beta started 20mg fluoxetine last night. I will document changes and side effect as they unfold. I hope my experience can help other doggie mommies with such a difficult situation.

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    1. Hope this works well for Beta.

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    2. He Beta and Kerry!

      Thank you for sharing your experiences! My dog has done the same exact thing as Beta (jumped out of two story windows, torn walls, chewed flooring, etc.) She lived with my mother for 7 years while I was in school and just wasn't given the same love I give to her. I recently moved to a big city/large apartment building and her anxiety was still there. Last week I started her on fluoxetine (10mg for 35lbs dog). So far, I haven't seen any help with her anxiety, but have seen the side effects, although not terrible. As long as I encourage her to eat, she will do it and her "drunk walk" is only right right after she takes her pill.

      I was wondering Beta could comment on if the pill has helped with the anxiety? How long did it take? I know this is the only option for her (she's on an exercise regimen, has a pheromone collar, has a thunder coat, and takes natural calming treats too.) I want to start working on the desensitizing, but her fear at the moment, even when I shut myself in the bathroom, can't be overcome yet. I have to wait until the drug starts working.

      Kerry, I was also wondering if you could comment on whether switching to the PM has decreased the effect? I notice that if I give my dog the pill in the morning, it doesn't kick in until 2 hours after I go to work (I've heard this is when she stops barking from my neighbors) and have thought about switching to a nighttime schedule so that she has the drug in her system when I leave for work in the morning. Would either of you know about that?

      Thank you so much Kerry! This has been so helpful and calming for me and gives me hope that my 12 year old baby will be okay eventually.

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    3. Hi Beta and Kerry! Thank you both for sharing your story. I have the same situation as Beta with my dog, Mandy. She has jumped out of 2 story windows, chewed floors/drywall, destroyed kennels, etc. I have started her on fluoxetine last weekend and am still waiting for it to kick in. So far I haven't noticed any positive changes, but have seen the negative side effects. Beta, could you give an update and let me know if there is hope? How long did it take Beta to show signs of improvement? I know it can take up to 6 weeks to see anything, but I just wanted to hear from an actual owner.

      Kerry, I was wondering if you could comment on the change from an AM dosage to a PM dosage. I notice with my dog, the drug hasn't kicked in by the time I leave for work if I give it to her in the morning, so am consulting my vet about switching to PM so that it is kicked in when I leave. I know you said that Reub had less side effects, but did it decrease the effectiveness? I don't want to do that and make her anxiety worse because the drug has worn off by morning.

      Thank you again for sharing your stories! SO HELPFUL!! and gives me hope!

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    4. Hi Angela! Yikes, another jumper. Oh man. The short answer to your question is that I do not think the PM dosage lessened the effectiveness of the med. That's especially true now that we've been on it for so long. We exercise the be-jeepers out of Reub as well as dosing him every night. He is not a perfect dog, but he is so much better than 3 years ago.

      I would also like to hear back from Beta's mom to see what their outcome has been. This drug is not a magic bullet by a long shot, but if you work with it for awhile it can help. I wish you luck! It would be great if you let us know your own outcome. Many people check this post daily looking for info. Best wishes.

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    5. Angela, Beta's mom has responded. Look for her comment at the bottom.

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  29. My dog just started fluoxetine this past week. She's a small dog, 13 pounds, and is taking 10mg/daily. She has separation anxiety that has gotten worse as she gets older. So the vet recommended we try her on Prozac. He had said to try it for a year and then try to ween her off of it, as she may have "unlearned" the reaction behavior. She also has to take Xanax for thunderstorms and on the 4th of July and will continue with that, only with a lower dose, now that she's on Prozac. Did your vet ever consider weening Rueb off of the meds?

    We are having the beginning issues that you described. The tremlbing, the lethargy, and she's still having negative reaction to my leaving. The vet said I have to give it anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks for it to "kick in". I am trying to be patient, but it is a bit upsetting to see her tremble so much and to have to carry her for half of her walks. Thankfully she is only 13 pounds!

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    1. Aww, you have to carry her. I hope that gets better in less than 8 weeks. I think it probably will. For Reub, the worst side effects were in the 1st 2-3 weeks, then gradually all side effects completely vanished. Now he looks and acts completely like his old self.

      Reub's vet isn't against weaning dogs off fluoxetine, but in Reub's case we don't think it's wise. The risk of him returning to defensive anxiety behaviors (read: biting)is too scary. Last fall I reduced his dosage, but thought/imagined an uptick in aggressive behavior towards the kittens I fostered so I put him back on the regular dosage. Now that he has learned to like the cats, maybe I could try again. But what if he bites a person again? That would mean putting him down.

      I wish all the best to you and your doggie. I'm interested to hear how it goes with you in the coming months, especially if your dog unlearns anxious behaviors. That would be great news.

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  30. Thank you for writing this blog! We're starting our corgi mix on fluoxetine this week after 6 months on clomicalm. It's good to know what side effects we may see these first few weeks. Already, we're getting a lot of excessive whining and some lethargy. As we weaned him off of the old meds, we saw a lot more of our energetic puppy (not that he wasn't playful on the drugs), and it was tempting to keep him off any drugs. But, like Reub, our pup has bit humans before and we're desperate to find a way to save his life because he hasn't even had a second birthday yet. It's nice to read an honest narrative of how this journey goes. I hope we have as happy an ending as you've had so far.

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    1. Hi Jenna,
      Yeah, the first few weeks weren't that great: whining and dopiness. Once in awhile, even now, he'll get weird in his crate at night, but mostly he shows pretty normal behavior.

      Fluoxetine isn't a miracle drug, and we are acutely aware that it isn't a guarantee against aggressive behavior, but it has definitely slowed his reaction time enough so that we can handle most situations. I hope this works as well for your corgi mix. I love corgis. Best wishes to you and your pup:)

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    2. Hi Jenna,

      I just read you weaned your dog of Clomicalm. We are currently weaning ours off the generic Clomipramine. Did you have any bad side effects? Our dog has become aggressive towards my husband (the behavioralist said it looks like fear aggression). And he is much more anxious already and we have only been weaning for 1.5 weeks. Did you have any advice for us? How is the fluoxetine working? We are desperate to get started but we have at least 3 more weeks of weaning to do.

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    3. Stefani, I don't know if Jenna is still reading this. I hope so & that she'll answer. Three weeks is a long time. I hope it goes by quickly & that you can get started.

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  31. Hi,

    Like so many people before me, thanks for writing this blog. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only person with a crazy dog- it's good to know I'm not! I have a 2 1/2 year old Catahoula Leopard dog mix, Mozzie, who I adopted at 10 months old. The first 3 months he was fine and then he came down with a severe case of separation anxiety- trembled and drooled in his crate the whole time I was gone. As time has gone on, he's become anxious in general and very reactive in certain situations, although thankfully he hasn't bitten anyone. He was put on clomipramine but the higher dose caused head tremors, which were extremely scary as seizures are a possible side effect of that drug, but the lower 25 mg twice a day had been working for the past year and a half. We are in our first week of the switch to Fluoxetine and I'm hoping that it works a little better than the low dose of clomipramine. It's good to know what to expect as possible side effects during the transition, so far he seems to be the same dog- eating, sleeping, and playing.

    One thing that definitely helps him is doggie daycare- he is only reactive to other dogs when he is on a leash so daycare works for him but I realize this isn't an option for lots of anxious dogs. He comes home tired from a long day of playing and actually seems like a "normal" dog. Even long runs with him don't seem to have the same effect as a good day of doggie play time.

    Thanks again for posting your story and I'm glad to hear Reub is still doing well!

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    1. Hi Meagan & Kyle, The Club of Crazy Dogs is much bigger than anyone cares to admit. There are lots of us out there!

      Oh gosh I'm glad head tremors haven't been a side effect of fluoxetine; that would be awful.

      It's great that you have addressed your boy's anxiety before it became worse. Anxiety issues never fix themselves as much as we wish they did. Instead the fear & anxiety may cross the line into fear & aggression. So it's good that you have a handle on the situation early. Yay for doggie daycare!

      Good luck with your new regimen; fingers crossed that it works for you.

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  32. My dog Chase has just been prescribed Prozac. He licks inadamen t objects like upholstery obsessively for hours at time. He was a rescue that was kept on a chain all day from when he was a puppy until 10 months. I hope this helps... I feel so sorry for this wonderful boy. He loves me and never leaves my side. God's gift to mankind... dogs are.

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    1. Hi Tom, I sure hope it helps. I have a feeling that it will aid in breaking this cycle, along with lots of exercise. Dogs like this sometimes don't know how to play with toys; if that's true maybe experiment with different toys to see what he's most interested in. He sounds like a sweet boy who will thrive.

      Indeed, dogs are a gift to be cherished and a commitment to care for as best we can. Best of luck to you:)

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  33. Thanks for this. the description of how he was during the first few months combined with your follow ups were extremely helpful. thank you!

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    1. Brad, I'm glad you found it helpful. When I started writing about it I had no idea how many others would be interested. If you have a dog on Reconcile, I wish you the best.

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  34. I'm so glad to have found your blog. I have a two year old labrodoodle (Murphy)and in January, adopted a lab-pit mix. Mack is about a year old. He has been quite a challenge. I thought Murphy was high strung, until I got Mack. He never stopped moving and was, in general, very anxious and distracted. Basically a complete spaz. About 10 weeks ago my vet prescribed 40mg fluoxetine, 20mg am and 20 pm. (Mack weighs 60 lbs) It has helped him be quite a bit calmer, although he still kind of goes crazy when I leave the house, but when I get home they're always laying on the couch watching out the window for my return. I have very recently started leaving him out of his kennel when I'm gone and he's doing fine, no destructive behavior. He is capable of being a very good dog; comes when he's called and follows basic commands. He thinks he's a lap dog and loves affection. He loves people and I have not experienced any aggressive behavior towards others. He and Murphy get along great. Here's the problem I'm having now: He is becoming increasingly food aggressive at meal time. He has no problem following a command for a treat alongside Murphy. When I go to fill the food bowls, they both go to their kennels (where they eat), but when I go to deliver his bowl he becomes very rigid and will growl at me after I put the bowl down. Yesterday it was full on aggression and if the kennel had not been between us I would have been in trouble. It scared me terribly! Nothing like that has ever happened before. I have put a call in to my vet, but have not spoken to her yet. Yesterday was the first time I administered frontline and can't help but wonder if there was some kind of reaction between the two drugs. I do not want to be afraid of my own dog! I don't have any idea how to correct this and am quite afraid because I know he has the potential to cause injury. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly welcomed!!! Lynn

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    1. Hi Lynn, Oh boy you have to get on top of this one real quick. It's good that you called your vet. She may want to take Mack off of fluoxetine (slowly) & see if that helps.

      In the meantime...do you make your dogs sit before giving them their dish of food? This is quite an easy thing to train them to do:
      1. Hold the dish of food as you stand near your dog.
      2. Ask dog to sit. If he fails to sit, look him in the eye and take a step forward.
      3. When he sits, begin to place the bowl on the floor. When the dish hits the ground he should still be sitting. If he stands at any point, pick the bowl up. Don't give him the food until he stays seated and then release him with an "ok." Dogs learn this incredibly fast; you'll be amazed. :)

      Practice this with Murphy before you try it on Mack. This exercise helps your dog understand that you are in control. It should help. Always do it!

      But the escalating aggression while being on a new drug is a worrisome problem, and your vet will be your best resource to help. Fingers crossed that things get better.

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    2. Hi Kerry,
      Both dogs eat in their kennels and both are required in down position before they get their bowl. I have been giving Mack only a few bites and standing at his kennel while I drop in a couple more bites at a time. He's fine with that, but if I touch his bowl he will growl, show teeth and snap. I am afraid that if I retract his bowl he will attack. I'm so disappointed! We've worked so hard on becoming a pack where I am supposed to be alpha!
      My vet wants me to contact a behaviorist at Purdue University. I am on a limited budget and not sure I can afford this, or the time off work to take him out of state for evaluation/treatment. I am trying to contact another vet (that I trust) for a second opinion.
      Is it bad to feed them in the kennel? At this point I am afraid not to! I haven't read that flouxetine can cause aggression. Have you heard that happens? Thanks for the suggestions! Lynn

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    3. Just for the record, this is the only time I've seen aggression. He and Murphy share all their toys well and I can give treats for obeying commands outside the kennels without a problem.

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    4. Lynn,I have never heard that it's bad to feed a dog in the kennel, and it sounds like you're on top of the training with Mack. His resource protection seems limited to the food dish, so hmmmm. It would be very helpful to talk with a behaviorist. Is it possible you could call the Purdue person and explain to them your situation, that your vet referred you but you are from far away &limited financially? Maybe they would offer help for free, or refer you to something specific online. Meanwhile a 2nd opinion from a vet you trust is a good idea.
      I remember seeing a Dog Whisperer episode similar to this. I think the dog was a highly-trained field trial lab who became ferocious at feeding time, which took place inside his walk-in kennel. Might be worth searching for. But that dog was un-neutered & had been trained with a shock collar.
      In some dogs I have heard that there is increased aggression on fluoxetine.
      Lynn, good luck. If you find some answers to Mack's problem please let us know.

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    5. I just read that in rare cases aggression can be a side affect of this med. Looks like we may be one of those :( He was doing so well. Appt. w/second vet on Monday. I am leaning toward weaning him off and hope I can deal w/the other behaviors. I'll keep you posted.

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    6. Thank you Lynn. Sounds like a plan. I hope it works!

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  35. This is such a comfort to read! It's nice to know we're not the only one's with a "special" dog. We adopted an 8 week old puppy almost a year and a half ago. He was very excitable from the beginning and showed some signs of aggression (especially resource guarding), but we did extensive training with him right from the beginning and thought we could shape him into a perfect dog (hah! what's a "perfect" dog?). He started showing signs of leash aggression, and we got him neutered at around 7 months. He was a favorite at his open crate daycare, and we worked on his leash aggression thinking we were seeing signs of improvement, but then around 1 year, he started showing more signs of aggression and this time to people sometimes including us. We were heartbroken. After 6 months of working on the aggression using desensitization and all kinds of training (some we wish we hadn't tried) with very little improvement, we finally took him to a vet behaviorist who put him on fluoxetine. The first two and a half weeks he was tired and lethargic and had stomach trouble, but suddenly one day on a trip to the beach about three weeks after he went on the meds, he perked up and was just so loving and friendly. He's been on it for almost two months now, and his aggression toward us has greatly subsided. He's a resource guarder, and has growled at me once while doing trading games with him, but growling and snapping used to be a regular occurrence in our house, and this is no longer the case. He's on a very very low dose, so we're considering increasing the dose at this point to see if we have even more improvement. Unfortunately he's been "snappy" with some of the other dogs at his open crate daycare, which never used to be an issue, and we're not sure if that's related to the medication or something else. But all-in-all we're thrilled that he's acting like our fun-loving puppy again.

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    1. Allie, welcome to the Special Dogs' Blog! it sounds like you've done all of the right things for your boy, and he has responded quite well to the fluoxetine.It does sound like it's lowering his anxiety level from red-alert to yellow (an old homeland-security term :)...) It is such a relief after the first weeks of lethargy, to see the side effects wear off, isn't it? If he starts to experience an increase in the number of triggers (like becoming more & more sensitive to other dogs, noises, people, etc) it's worth asking your vet if increasing the dosage is appropriate.

      When we first adopted Reub (at about a year old) he seemed to be good with all dogs,but later became very choosy about who he was friendly towards. Partially this was due to his whole anxiety-pathology, but also because he had a run-in with some very aggressive dogs at the dog park; after that he became more and more untrustworthy around new dogs. Now I'm super careful handling him when other dogs come into the picture. I'm wondering if your boy experienced something similar at daycare.

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  36. I'm so happy to have found this blog. We adopted our tree walker coonhound mix in March and immediately put him in Chlomoprimine due to his severe separation anxiety. With training and the meds he improved SO much. Unfortunately, due to the rising costs of the meds, many carriers no longer carry it and we are forced to wean him off. We are almost one full week into the weaning and he was showing aggression towards my husband, the most aggressive he has ever been. One the meds, his aggression towards my husband was minimal and we actually thought we had almost conquered it. Unfortunately we were wrong. I immediately called our trainer who suggested to put him in melatonin and valarien supplements to help with the weaning. We can't put him on the fluoxidine until he has been off of the Chlomoprimine for at least 2 weeks which is several weeks away. I'm glad to see many saying the prozac helps with aggression especially since we eventually want to have kids in the future. We are on day one of giving him melatonin and I will be going out to buy the valarian later on today. Has anyone has similar experiences with weaning off of the chlomaprine and how did they adjust to the fluoidine?

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    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I have no experience with chlomaprine, but I imagine this will be a tough period for your dog, going off & on some powerful drugs. He's going to need plenty of exercise & time to adjust. Wow. Fingers crossed that you get through the next month as smoothly as possible.

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    2. Just thought we would update for anyone still reading. We made it through the weaning process. Jackson has not shown aggression towards my husband since he stopped the Clomipramine. We fully believe it was his levels being out of wack and him not knowing how to deal with it. We have been on 10mg of fluoxetine for 2 weeks and just upped him to 20mg yesterday. So far the only side effects we have seen was increase in his smell drive the first 2 days (he is a hound) and a little bit of restlessness. His anxiety in the crate has gotten worse as he is growling as we try to get him in and he shakes and barks in a panic as we are leaving. I hope the 20mg helps him get back to where we used to be where he would at least lay down before we would leave. Now we just wait until it builds up in his system.

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    3. Stefanie, thank you so much for taking the time to catch us up on Jackson. You wouldn't believe how many hits this post gets per day. There ARE others in your predicament looking for information, and it is super helpful to have your input.

      Reub's anxiety in his crate increased at first after going on fluoxetine, but after some weeks it wore off. There may be a "hump" that Jackson has to get over. Fingers crossed that he does.

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    4. Kerry, did the increased crate anxiety wear off naturally or after you upped his dosage? It took about a week or so for the increase anxiety to start so we are hoping it wears off quickly! Also, did you notice if Reub got a little rash from the fluoxetine? We are trying to figure out if it's his food or the pills. It didn't start until after his crate anxiety increased but he was licking his paws before we started. Thanks!

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    5. The crate anxiety started up a week or two after he began prozac, and lasted for awhile, but I don't remember how long. Two or three weeks maybe? We never noticed a rash. That's interesting. I wonder if it's related. I don't know. Paw-licking can be caused by a variety of things, including arthritis that may set in after injury or stress. Your vet may be able to figure this out. I wish you good luck and hope things settle down soon.

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    6. Just wanted to update. Jackson has been officially on 30mg ( he is 50lbs) for a little over 2 months. He is doing much better with aggression although still happens about once a week. His separation anxiety is still there but he is no longer growling before going in his crate and I can usualy coax him to lay down in the crate before we leave. We are currently.deciding if we should up him to 40mg because of his lingering aggression but he is so sensitive to changes in meds we have a feeling it would get a bit worse again before it gets better. Hoping if we up him his aggression goes away...

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    7. Reub is 60 lbs and on 40 mgs. It does sound like you have made progress, but I don't think we can ever completely erase aggression, not 100%. At least that's what I think about Reub, even though we have had no abnormal incidents for a long time.

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    8. We definitely have made progress and hope he continues on this path! Thanks again.

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  37. I'm so glad to have found this post! I have a nearly 4 year old dog who has had some fear issues since we got him at 4 months old. His symptoms are so many, it's hard to get into without doing an entire blog post myself. We've been to manners classes. We've done agility. We had bloodwork done to rule out any thyroid issues last December. We've met with a behaviorist. We have seen some improvement, but it's been over 6 months since the behaviorist appointment, and the little improvement we've seen is with a huge amount of management to what he is exposed to. We've changed a lot of things, as most people on here have done. When I talked to our vet a couple of days ago, she suggested that we consider fluoxetine. I, too, had recently considered doing a blog to really keep better track of his progress, to vent when I need to vent, and celebrate when I need to celebrate. Reading about everyone's experiences with the drug is helpful! I think my biggest worry is that it might backfire, and lower his inhibitions, making for a dangerous situation here at home. We have one other dog, and two cats. I also doubt that it will be a miracle cure, but I would love for him to enjoy walks more, or maybe even agility again. It's very difficult to give him the exercise he needs when he hates to leave the house!

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    1. Amber, I have read that a few dogs may be more aggressive with lowered anxiety, so it is something to keep in mind although most dogs don't respond that way. As a last ditch effort I think it's worth a try. By all means start a blog! You will have an amazing number of people interested in your experience, even if it isn't a miracle cure. Please let us know how it goes in any case.

      p.s. I usually publish & respond to comments within 24 hours, but we were off in the sticks & out of touch this week. Sorry it took several days to get back to you.

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  38. I read almost everyone of the comments. Wrigley is an 18 month old lab with separation anxiety and we have had him for a month. I picked up my prescription today. He has torn through his crate, taken things and ripped them to shreds, ate rat poisoning (emergency room visit), and urinated on the carpet. He is apsolutely the sweetest thing ever though. We all adore him. He is high maintenance. I hope these meds work for him!!!

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    1. Wrigley is a great name for a lab pup:) You must be a cubs fan!

      I hope the med works for Wrigley & I hope too, that he can get plenty of exercise at the same time. Labs can be kind of insane that way. Maybe he can go swimming & get a good workoout. Good luck!!

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    2. I run him on weekends and my daughter comes over one day during the week. Run 3-4 miles at a time. He loves it. A little tired towards the end. He seems lethargic on the meds (day 3). We only leave him alone for maybe 2-3 hours at a time. My cleaning lady said that he barked the entire time he was in his kennel when my daughter left him. (new kennel with reinforced wire) I work days and my husband works nights.

      He does not like water. I know, ha a lab that does not like water. Where would we go if we did want to try to get him to swim? I am going to look that up online also.

      So far, he seems calmer. I have not been out with him since we started the medicine. He is not aggressive. I have been reading about behavior adjustment therapy. He just wants to be with me all the time and when he sees another dog, he will do whatever it takes to get to him/her.

      I will come back to this blog and keep reading for help.

      Thanks!!!

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    3. Found a beach. Taking him tomorrow! Thanks.

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    4. Catherine, we had a lab that we so dearly loved. When we got her she was about a year and a half old, and had never been in the water. We took her to a lake but she wouldn't venture in, didn't know what to do. There was a little trickling stream nearby & when we took her there & tossed a stick into it, she went in after the stick. The stream had about 1 inch of water in it:) You could literally see her finding her inner-lab. She began to romp up and down that little creek...and from then on she liked water. But it was gradual. :)

      I love labs. Fingers crossed that Wrigley settles into a more liveable routine.

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    5. Update: The temps have been in the 100s. We take him for a walk but he gets so tired so fast. Do you think it is the heat or is it the meds. He has been on them a good two weeks now. He is completely calm in the kennel now. He has not torn anything up and the barking is completely gone. We are working with his behavior on walks, etc. and he seems good. The only time he gets crazy is when he wants to play with other dogs on the walk. We are working on behavior. He seems pretty good on the prozac except for seeming tired all the time.

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    6. The heat for sure, but probably also the meds. The lethargy will likely wear off if it's just the meds, though. Reub was dopey for a few weeks after starting prozac, but gradually became more like himself again, minus the edge. That's good, because his edginess led to trouble. I do not miss the edginess.

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    7. Update: Wrigley is doing awesome! He goes to his kennel before we can tell him that it is time. He knows when I am getting ready to leave and he knows where he needs to be...almost like he does not like being told what to do. I think he is getting used to us. Knows the routine and seems happy with it. I don't have anxiety anymore either...lol. I used to worry every time I left the house and try to rush back because I worried about him. I did not enjoy being away because I was nervous for him. I am fine now also. No worries anymore. I am still working on his behavior on walks. He sees a squirrel and we are in trouble. We are getting better when he sees another dog...I throw treats in his mouth like a crazy woman. So I think we are in a normal place right now. I am wondering if I should take him off of it now or wait longer or if we ever need to take him off. He is pretty awesome the way he is now. I like him on the meds. What do you think?

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    8. Wrigley is doing SO WELL! Your vet should have the last word on whether it's time to take him off, but it seems to me he should stay on for a bit, especially with the added stress of the holiday season approaching?

      On the other hand, you will know very quickly if he needs to stay on them if you start giving a half-dose. His anxiety will begin to ramp up again. But it's possible that most of that anxiety was due to the adoption process & now that he has found his home, he's settled down & no longer needs the meds. Let us know what you decide to do.

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    9. I took your advice and I am waiting to take him off the meds. I think I will ask my vet once the weather starts to get nicer. I can make sure we are getting outside regular. He is still doing great. Very normal dog. This site has been so helpful. Thanks!

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    10. Lucky lucky Wrigley. Keep up the great work!

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  39. Hi

    Google search brought me to this blog at the right time. I adopted a terrier mix rescued from a Puerto Rico beach. He is my second Puerto Rican rescue. My first pup Khan (doxie mix) was rescued when he was only 4 months and I got him at 6 months, he is 2 now. We did the puppy socialization and he aced his basic obedience class. I most say that a lot of the credit goes to my 13 years old basset/lab mix Zoey, she is the best teacher and dog ever.
    With my second terrier Charlie the story is different. He is around 1 year old, grew up roaming the beach and streets in PR until June when he was rescued, I adopted him a month later. He is a little shy at the beginning and will step back when approached, until he checks the situation and decides its OK. He has never ever show any aggression. I took him to work and after a few minutes figuring out what was going on, he was social and interacting with people or staying busy with his chew bone. He growls a lot but the Vet, the trainer and actually everybody agrees that this is his way to communicate. He rarely barks, he growls and grunts and squeaks and do all sorts of noises. He is a funny fellow and good with other dogs and kids. Respectful of other dogs, not the kind of dog that gets bitten because of their approach to other dogs. Khan is the same way and I think this is some survival skill they learn quick as streetdogs and of course, and of course, Zoey is great at setting space boundaries, great help.
    So, what is my problem?
    He does not tolerate when we leave the house. At night he go willingly to his crate, no issues or worries at all, that is his bed. At the beginning crating him during the day wasn't a big issue, but once he realized that crate = me going out (even if its across the street to get the mail) he started rejecting the crate during the day. I would love to let him with free roam of my tiny house, the other 2 dogs are free with no worries, but he is not ready for that yet. He jumps, he chews, he pees, he gets in places I have no idea was possible and won't stop until we are back home.


    the other issue is that he has NO attention span for training. He is not very food motivated during training, the clicker sound made him run away so that didn't work and we are about to finish the basic obedience course and I'm pretty sure we are going to fail, not because he does not know the commands but because I cant have him focus! At home I practice the commands before feeding time and at least I'm able to get some attention so I'm pretty sure he knows the commands. Of course, he can be cheating looking at what Khan and Zoey are doing to get the stuff he wants. Also, when I'm at home he is attached to me but outside he has absolutely NO recall. One of the first things we already did was microship him because I fear he is the one at risk to bolt out the door, I have nightmares about that.
    So today the vet gave me Prozac 10 mg (he is 17 pounds) He suggested Prozac because he believes it will make Charlie more trainable. When I asked if the idea was to make Charlie less excitable, able to relax and settle down easily, he said not really, just more trainable, more focused. What does that means?
    I got the meds but I'm still thinking about it because I'm not sure this is what he needs. I don't know what to do but I like this pup and he is here to stay so we need to make it work.

    I would appreciate any comments or advice or experiences or anything that I can learn from to help Charlie. Thank you very much.

    Be well,
    Ada Nicky

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    1. Wow Ada. First of all, good for you and Zoey too, adopting not one but two abandoned Puerto Rican dogs. These are dogs who are rarely so lucky, and can come with a whole array of issues.

      Fluoxetine is the drug of choice for separation anxiety, so your vet may be addressing this problem as well as hoping that it will increase "train-ability." Our dog Reub doesn't have separation anxiety, just ANXIETY, which causes him to react negatively to a variety of triggers. The drug has stopped him from adding triggers, and slowed his reaction time on things that once caused him to go bananas. It seems to give him a split second longer to analyze before reacting. In that sense I suppose he is more trainable.

      It's tough when a dog doesn't like his crate. "All good things" should be associated with the crate, so try this: put Charlie in his crate and go for car rides together. Feed Charlie in his crate while you're at home. Go for a run, then afterwards put your sweaty old t-shirt in the crate for him to sleep with. Give him a fresh marrow bone from the butcher in his crate (bones are controversial, but a fresh marrow bone is the safest kind to give him & may work better than a stuffed kong). Locate his crate in a room he favors, next to the other dogs' crates or in your bedroom.

      It's also tough when a dog is unmotivated by food. Because you're working with a trainer and a vet, you already know this b/c you train before meals, but it bears repeating:

      Don't feed your dog his breakfast--at least on weekends when you're around a lot. Make him work for his calories throughout the day. If he is hungry enough he WILL become motivated. Treats must be high value: chopped cooked beef or chicken liver is cheaper than most dog biscuits & it's a good motivator. (Gawd, I'm making myself hungry talking like this...)

      So put him on prozac. His appetite will lessen at first, so the food motivation thing will be an even bigger challenge. But given time, continued training, lots of exercise, and patience patience patience he will hopefully improve. So much work, but I wish you the best of luck! Hang in there.

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  40. Thank you very much for such a quick reply. The suggestion about the marrow bone on his cage made me laugh because for the last 2 days I'm coming home to find him free roaming in the house. First day I thought huh, maybe I didn't lock the crate all the way but I'm pretty sure I did the second day. My husband and I were talking about a Nanny Cam to figure this out but no need. This morning I'm getting ready to leave and placed his chew bone on the crate and turned to call Charlie and in a split second Khan opened the locked crate, grabbed the bone and went to his bed to enjoy it. I was standing there! I'm Puerto Rican and my American husband swears my dogs have 100% Puerto Rican attitude. Sighs, I'm going to start the Prozac tonight as we don't work Fridays and can be around to check on him. Thanks a lot for this blog!!

    Ada

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    1. haha! Khan would probably collect all 3 bones if you gave everybody their own:)

      I tried a citronella collar on Reub to stop his barking, but it kept coming off. It came off b/c his buddy Eddy removed it from his neck by very carefully clamping his teeth onto the collar's latch & removing it. I guess you just can't underestimate dogs. :-)

      Good luck with the meds.

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  41. Hi Everyone,
    I thought I had posted an update on Beta a month ago, but I think I just replied an email instead of posting it on this blog. I just dug this up from my sent mail, and here is my reply to Wrigley:

    Hi Catherine,
    I posted on this blog 3 months ago after my dog Beta jumped out of my second floor apt window. Dealing with a dog's anxiety is such a challenge, I just want to let you know that you are not alone. Aside from the emotional aspect of watching your animal suffer, it is also very difficult when people judge you for investing so much money, time, and energy. My sister has two labs that are chill and food motivated. She has no problem crating them or leaving them up to 10 hours a day. When I describe the kind of training I have to do with Beta, she made me feel bad for having a burdensome dog. Beta has everything from pheromone diffuser, fluoxetine, stuffed frozen kongs, bully sticks, thunder shirt, to an animal behaviorist. We jog, fetch, goto dog parks, daycare, and agility class. For crate training I get dressed and not leave, jiggling my keys randomly at the house, and leave and come back in short time increments. I do my errands one at a time to keep leaving and come back to the house. Each time he regressed and got anxious I shortened the time I am gone and slowly increase the crating time back up again. I am almost 4 months into this lifestyle and Beta has shown some improvement. I hope your journey with Wrigley is smoother than mine with Beta. It will take a lot of love and patience. I wish you the best luck in the world.

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    1. Beta's mom, you're doing everything right. People who have never had any experience with an anxious dog just really do not get it. Your patience and strength are amazing! Thank you so much for writing!

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    2. Wrigley is doing much better. Almost seems normal. We have left him up to four hours now without any problems. He is starting to go to his crate for naps. Prozac is wonder drug.

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    3. Wow Catherine. That has happened in under two months, which gives hope for a lot of people here. Lucky Wrigley, to be adopted by you. :-)

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  43. I am so relieved to have stumbled upon this blog. I have a 6 year old beagle Lucy, who began suffering from OCD ( excessive licking and chewing of walls and floor) about a month ago.

    It all began after I had my entire house painted, then had to leave on a business trip. The friends she usually stayed with where unavailable, thus I had to board her at the veterinarian for the first time. It was less expensive than the pet hotel where she goes to day camp from time to time. It turns out that was a big mistake. Not sure if it is something in the paint, a traumatic experience from boarding, or both. From the moment I picked her up from boarding, she looked off. Hair raised along her back and frazzled. As soon as I got her home, she went right to the walls and started chewing on a corner. I tried the DAP calming collars and diffuser for a few weeks and it did nothing. The vet suggested that because she is older and may not bounce back as quickly, that we try Fluoxetine. The first 5 days she was on 10mg and walked around like a little zombie ( shes only 20lbs). The vet advised me to cut the pills in half. I've been giving her 5mg at bedtime, but the side effects are still very debilitating; lethargy, lack of appetite, sleeping most of day and no desire to play. She has had a few tremors also and trouble going up and down the stairs sometimes. I had blood work done this weekend, full panel and thyroid and am awaiting results. She has been on for 2 weeks now.

    Its so hard seeing her like this, as she is such a playful happy girl and her joy has been zapped. It's good to know that these symptoms should dissipate within a few more weeks or so and hopefully we will see some results. Thanks again for sharing Rueb's journey with us. I will keep you posted.

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    1. Hi Leah,
      It is a bit strange that Lucy developed OCD so suddenly, but I guess it's possible. Sounds like the side effects are taking their time wearing off, but hopefully they will begin to do so over the next couple of months. Lowering the dosage should help. What happens if you give it in the AM? Meanwhile it will be helpful to get that lab work back. I wish you the best! Hugs to little Lucy.

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  44. Hi Kerry,
    I found her acute OCD rather strange myself. I hadn't seen her chew on anything other than a toy since she was a puppy. My feeling is it has to be something in the paint she is sensitive to, or something happened at the boarding facility to trigger this. I've never given the meds to her in the AM, as it was the pharmacists suggestion I administer at night, due to the drowsiness.
    I will let you know what the results are.
    Thanks so much, Kerry.
    Leah

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    1. Yeah, we administer at night also.

      If it was something at the boarding facility I would guess that she would gradually get over this. It would be nice if they could honestly tell you if anything unusual happened while she was boarded? Just to clarify things?

      Was lead paint scraped off during the painting process?

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  45. Hi Kerry,
    Its a good thing I had her blood work done when I did. Lucy's red-blood count was dangerously low, so they re-checked today and was told she needed a blood transfusion immediately.

    She has severe anemia, due to an autoimmune disease that is attacking red blood cells in her bone marrow. She was chewing because of the deficiency. Her body was rapidly killing her blood cells and her bone marrow isnt regenerating the cells They said the on-set was probably a little over a month, which was when she started chewing. My vet should have ordered the blood work before prescribing the Fluoxitine. I am angry about this. The anemia causes lethargy and rapid heart beat and the drug just made it worse. Poor girl. She is having her transfusion tonight and will have to go on medication, probably for the the rest of her life. The good news is it is treatable if all goes well with the transfusion.
    I know this has nothing to do with antidepressants now, but I will keep you posted.
    Thanks for your support,
    Leah

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    1. Aha. Mystery solved. Poor baby has been through a lot. Thank goodness you had the blood work done, and YES it should have been done before the fluoxetine. After the blood transfusion she will feel SO much better and so will you.

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  46. Hi Kerry,
    I certainly hope so. This is a very serious condition. She was discharged Tuesday and hopefully her red blood count will remain stable and she responds well to the meds. Thanks so much for your support!
    Leah

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    1. All the best to you, and a speedy recovery to Lucy.

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    2. Hi Leah,

      I'm reading this post several months later, but I'm wondering how your dog made out with the anemia issue. My 3 year old puggle was diagnosed with this disorder and we had to euthanize her. It was awful! I hope your outcome was better than mine. She was literally playing with her doggy friends on Friday night and by Monday afternoon I had to gather my kids around her to say good-bye. Two years later and I still cry over that dog.

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    3. I also still wonder what the outcome was for Lucy. And Nerina, I have tears left for dogs who left me years ago. It is a very beautiful and painful thing to love a dog.

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  47. Hello. So this post is most helpful - thank you for posting the original and continuing to update! I have a 6 year old aussie/ lab mut. We got her from a rescue at 8 weeks old and since about 6 months has shown a lot of anxiety and aggression issues (food aggression, fear aggression, territorial aggression). When she was about 9 months we started working with an animal behaviorist who said "she was the hardest case she ever worked with" and she stopped eating then and developed stress colitis.. not fun. After 'dealing' for about a year, one vet suggested we try a wheat free food. It was like night and day. She still had issues with aggression - but it wasn't random and we could deal. We also got xanax for her at this point for when we would go on trips or something would happen that we knew would throw her off.

    Then... it brings us to now. I am now 8 months pregnant and for the past 4 months her aggression episodes are more frequent and intense. I am sure it is because she doesn't see me as stable and is trying to be the dominant one - especially with my litter coming. So the vet started her on Prozac last week (I am honestly surprised she has made it 6 years without daily meds).

    Well just tonight the weirdest thing happened. While attempting to feed her dinner, she actually snarled while backing away from the food. Clearly she has lost her appetite and maybe her stomach is upset but after reading all the posts on here, I am glad to know that it should only be temporary. She was out early playing and wrestling with the other dog - so she does show bits of herself.

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    1. Hi Jodie. Wow sounds like she made it verry clear that she wasn't going to be coaxed into eating. Appetite loss is really common when beginning fluoxetine; I'm sure she'll eat eventually. I hope she hasn't been aggressive towards YOU for the past 4 months, but wouldn't be surprised if she was protective of you. She certainly senses the mounting excitement/anxiety over the new baby.

      It will be important for you to take care of yourself when the baby comes. I hope your dog is settling down by then & hope that you have friends who can help take her on walks and give her the stimulation that she needs to feel happy. And it does sound like you have a good vet (yaay for that!) I wish you the best of luck & hope you come back to let us know how her eating issues resolve.

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  48. Hi all, I found this via google search as well. I rescued a beagle lab mix when he was 3 months old, he's such a sweet loving and smart dog, but has quite a bit of anxiety. He's always disliked the car, used to throw up every single time we drove somewhere, but has improved since we now take him in the car to a dog park close by. He now associates car rides with the dog park, which has helped. He still doesn't sit or lay down and looks very alert on rides though.

    He also has a lot of anxiety when on the leash. At home, people come over and he is excited, social and friendly. He LOVES going on daily walks, but is so fearful on them. He used to freak when people would walk by. No aggression, just a lot of fear. That has gotten better, he will step away from the person, but after they've walked by he will try to sniff them. If a kid walks by, he is the most scared I ever see him get. He almost got out of his harness this morning when a child walked by and if he had, I'd probably never find him again. He is so much more social with people outside of the house at the dog park, I think it's because he's off leash. He even handles being around children, but will cower away if they approach him there. I'm so thankful he's never been aggressive, but it gets very exhausting when we try to take him to new places. He has a phobia of new places, which makes taking him anywhere very difficult. He has stress colitis as well, so if we push him too much in a new place, he almost always has a flare up.

    My vet recommended Prozac when he was just 7 months old (he's now 10 months.) meds for dogs scare me, so I immediately said no. I felt like he had made progress, and he would continue to do so. We started him on Prozac today, and I'm hoping for good results. I just am very fearful of ever taking him off the medication (weaning process and his body's r

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  49. Continued...
    Body's reaction, and I'm also nervous about having him on this at such a young age. I also forgot to mention he OCD and is constantly licking his back legs and has always had a lack of hair there due to that.

    I guess I just need some advice on having a dog under a year on it, any experiences with taking a dog off the medication, and any people who have had their dogs on it for the duration of their lives. I feel guilty medicating him, but I'm doing everything I should be for behavior modification.

    I'm also very thankful he doesn't have separation anxiety. He had it terribly when he was crated, but not anymore once we let him roam the house. Doesn't chew on anything but his toys either! I tell myself daily I'm blessed and it could be much worse.

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    1. First of all: Do. Not. Feel Guilty. About. Medicating your Dog. Really. Don't!

      If the meds, after a few weeks, seem like he's going in the wrong direction then you can slowly wean him off. But for now I think it's right that you treat the OCD. This drug should help that. Licking his back legs like crazy is not good, and the fluoxetine may help.

      Fear of kids is understandable in dogs who have been mistreated by children. When you adopt a dog you never know what bad experiences have shaped him, but if he's young you can try to rehabilitate him. His off-leash experiences with friendly children are excellent. Keep this up, as often as possible. He should always have a "way out" and never ever be forced to be friendly to a child in close quarters. It would be great if he could see non-anxious dogs interacting with children. For now, when you have kids over to your house, closely watch what goes on, and always allow space between your dog and a child. If a child wants to hug or pet your boy, tell them that your doggie "prefers a wave." Hiiiii doggggieeee!
      Please let us know how things progress. Best wishes to you and your adorable beagle-lab.

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  50. No question, but I just wanted to thank you for putting this info out there. My dog is having EXTREME anxiety because we are moving. He was a 4 year old owner surrender the day before a move, was adopted then returned, and now has only been with me for 9 months. I wish I could tell him that I would never give him up, and that he's going to adore where we are going. Since I cannot, I put him on fluoxetine. It's only the third day, but the appetite issues and joylessness have me strongly questioning if I am doing the right thing (it's not a meds vs. no meds thing, I've used them myself and am a big believer when used properly), even if it's likely to be short term in our case. Knowing that after they adjust their personalities can return is HUGE. I am literally crying reading that your dog became himself again. I just want to do the right thing for him. Having him so stressed that he was launching himself at the door and flipping out if I went ten feet to get the mail just was not good for either of us. So thank you again. I feel more at ease with the decision, knowing getting through some side effects may be worth the ride...

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    1. Onyx, thank you! Every time I go to the vet I tell her there oughta be better information out there for people like us. I am so glad that you are re-assured. I hope your baby bounces back and I have a strong feeling that he will. Best of luck.

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    2. Just wanna add that I think an adopted dog who has "baggage" from previous abandonment/abuse can take a couple of years to settle down. You're doing great. Keep it up.:)

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    3. We are lucky to have the amazing behaviorists at Tufts not too far away, and shortly after writing this we had an appointment. She confirmed that the appetite thing is normal and that the lethargy and odd emotions (or almost lack thereof sometimes) are not uncommon. My vet just didn't have the detail to give me that the behaviorist could, nor the same understanding of psychiatric meds and all our options. Plus I was given a new plan to get him back to sanity and told that research at Tufts has disproved many of the old methods of trying to desensitize to separation that are still widely recommended. Besides learning from great blog posts, I'd highly recommend anyone who can talks to a behaviorist. Tufts even does email consults. And although he fit right in with little obvious baggage (everyone said he was the easiest rescue ever until packing for the move started the separation anxiety), he'll never not get the help he needs when things like this turn up. Thanks!

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    4. Onyx, I second everything that you just said. A vet does not take the place of a behaviorist, and anybody who is reading this blog post should seek a good behaviorist. Most vets are happy to recommend one if you're not sure who to turn to.

      I've also read about the many myths of easing separation anxiety. If you have an anxious dog pleeeeeeease consult a behaviorist, and don't believe that the following things will fix your dog:

      Punishment, crating, another dog, TV left on, or obedience training....none of these things will solve the problem.

      And adding to Onyx Mutt's comment, here is a link to Tufts:
      http://www.tufts.edu/vet/behavior/canine.shtml

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    5. Just wanted to post an update. His vet behaviorist at Tufts had suspected he *might* be low thyroid, just on a hunch. She said the next time he had blood drawn, run a panel. Well, he ended up in the ICU with hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (which stress can cause, boo). Sure enough, I ask for the thyroid panel and he's not just borderline low as suspected, but "profoundly" low. She thinks the thyroid meds may be huge for him, both physically AND emotionally. Also, we had to stop fluoxetine due to serious side effects impacting him more than the anxiety, so are now on Buspar with clondine for specific events. But his behavior (especially those which started cropping up months after adoption and has gotten worse no matter what was done, anxiety and what was close to aggression at random times) may be partly or even entirely caused by this hormonal disorder that this vet says is vastly under diagnosed. Since two vets thought my request for testing was nuts and his levels indeed were WAY below normal, I'd guess more people like me are trying to treat what may be a physical issue as an emotional one. He'd had all standard blood panels run, like CBC and chem 25, along with looking for other stuff and was textbook on everything else. But since he displayed NONE of the classic signs of hypothyroidism (weight gain, lethargy, cold intolerance) my concern was dismissed before the vet behaviorist questioned his behavior combined with some premature greying. If in doubt AT ALL, run a thyroid panel or at least a total T4 to start. Hypothyroid is very treatable, and when left untreated can cause damage all over various systems and become a serious issue. Won't know for a bit if his case was all thyroid, but I remembered this blog and felt maybe this could help someone else...

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    6. Your request for thyroid testing was NOT nuts. I feel like this should be done as part of the normal regimen of tests before prescribing a drug like fluoxetine. As we went through the elimination process of what might be going on with Reub, thyroid testing was one of the main recommendations. I am so glad you pursued this & I bet your dog will be noticeably improved. Thanks so much for coming back and leaving this information to help others!

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  51. Good to read all of this -we start tomorrow but my vet hasn't used Prozac before (we are in UK) so I'm really worried. We are starting at 2x 20mg a day for our BC who is 25lbs.

    He has no separation issues at all but whenever he is in a room with us he runs about barking with hackles raised and panting if he thinks he hears knocking, thunder, loud winds, hail,planes or fireworks.This can happen almost continuously.

    He has bitten my partner 5 times all when he was being closely handled and our biggest problem is vets as he will not allow any vet near him or us to apply creams, eardrops etc.Unless we can do some training he is going to have to be put to sleep if he has an accident or serious illness.

    We were not told the full story when we adopted him or I doubt we would have taken on such a difficult dog.He is mildly aggressive to dogs that approach him on walks but just ignores those he knows or who leave him alone.

    As my vets are so hopeless I'm relying on sites like this for my information.

    Thanks to you all.

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    1. Crafty, you have your hands full. I wonder how long you've had this boy, and being a border collie if there is an outlet for him to do what he does best... BCs may love to run about and control everything in their environment, which as you know, can make them a difficult companion in a home. Here in the US, I know of people who have adopted bcs and taken them to sheep farms set up for the express purpose of meeting the needs of this breed. Helpful, but not possible most places. All herding breeds can be prone to nipping/biting, but once a dog starts to bite people, it will very likely happen again. So it's great that you're taking matters in hand. Fluoxetine by itself will not necessarily solve your problem though, and if you haven't done it already, be sure to consult a trainer/behaviorist.

      You're probably already aware that your vet should have done a blood test before prescribing prozac, to eliminate thyroid issues. Other fixes could be pheromones or a thunder jacket. And of course a border collie needs an insane amount of exercise. I wish you the best of luck and have all fingers crossed that it doesn't come to putting your dog down. :-(

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    2. thanks -Prozac hasn't come in yet .

      He gets lots of exercise but if he hears -guns, loud bangs, thunder, woodpeckers and some planes he will bolt so as a sheep dog he is practically useless!

      We have had him 2 years in March.

      He has never bitten anyone but my partner (not very nice for him) and all the bites came when he was very wound up but my partner carried on handling him.
      We tried adaptil we we first had him with little effect. He takes CALMEEZE tablets 2 times a day and these help him a bit.

      He is a very good dog generally with no issues of separation anxiety or running off on walks and is totally unreactive to dogs on walks unless they really try to hassle him or steal his stick!

      I have been given so much advice on Prozac -mostly don't give it so I'm very pessimistic.

      We are trying counter conditioning but we've had lots of thunder storms so he is very stressed out and not easy to get through to.

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    3. You have pin-pointed the situations which result in bites, and that is very helpful. He is really trying to tell your partner something. Giving this dog fluoxetine may lower the urgency that he feels, giving your partner time to alter the tense situation by means of changed body language and/or verbal instructions.

      Have you tried a thunder jacket? It might help his stress level.

      As for advice on Prozac, listen to your vet and trainer. The never-drug-a-dog opinions often come from people who have never encountered the kinds of issues you're facing. You are to be commended for trying to work with your dog and the professionals who want to solve his problems. You can give this drug a chance to work for 3-4 months, and if you dislike the results, discontinue it. It is certainly a tool that you should try with a nervous and occasionally aggressive animal when other things are not working well. Best of luck, and come back to let us know how things go.

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  52. I have read alot of good advice here. Thanks for keeping it going. I have aggression issues with my beagle mix. Snicker is mostly being aggressive to our other dog. Missy is a cattledog. We, also, have 2 cats that are afraid of Snicker, but it is much easier for them to stay away. The two scenarios that cause him to be aggressive are: 1. when there is people food around. Usually when we eat we put Missy in her crate to protect her. I don't feel that MIssy should have to suffer because of Snicker's behavior, but if Snicker is seperated he just whines and barks and barks. 2. Bed time. Sometimes we can get the both in our bed. Other times, Snicker growls at MIssy and we end up letting Missy go to her crate to sleep. MIssy does love her crate. She was my in-laws dog and was crate trained. Snicker was not.
    Snicker and Missy get into fights because Snicker is crazy and goes after her. THen it can get dangerous becuase we have to pull them away from each other. Snicker even bit me once when I was trying to pet him. It was my fault because I heard the warning growls and didn't back off. I guess Snicker should never have bit me though.
    Snicke takes 20mg of Prozac in the am. After reading these posting I cam going to try nighttime. Unfortunately, it has not reduced his aggression. He has been on it for at least 9 months. He does sleep most of the time, but he has always been a couch potato. We rescued him from a shelter so don't know exactly how old he is, but he is an old man. His head and muzzle are all grey. Missy is such a sweet girl and this treatment is not far to her. Snicker, also, now has been peeing and pooing all over the place and alot. We are taking him to the vet, so they can do a senior panel blood work again. Everytime he is aggressive or pees in the house, my husband gets very mad. We need to correct these issues because I refuse to put him down. Any help, would be appreciated. Thanks for reading this.

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    1. The blood work may help identify physical issues with Snicker. In the meantime, it would be helpful to send some messages to him:
      1. Separate the dogs at feeding time with a baby gate put between 2 rooms. Insist that each dog sit as you hold the bowl of food. (Say "sit" and make direct eye contact, then place the bowl on the floor & when the dog breaks the sit to go for the food simply pick up the bowl. The dog will immediately sit again. Do not allow him to go for the food until you release him by saying "OK." Feed Missy FIRST, within sight of Snicker. Always feed Missy first.
      2. When taking the dogs outdoors, always have Missy go before Snicker. You are establishing new rules for your pack & though it may take time, old dogs can certainly learn new tricks.
      3. It may be wise to keep both dogs off of beds. Again, this tells Snicker something.
      4. Missy's crate is her refuge and den; it's great that she has it. It's possible that Snicker was punished in a crate at some point in his past, but it still is possible to do some crate training. There's lots of advice on crate training out there, but it all boils down to "all things good happen in a crate"...lots of fave treats given there, an old smelly t-shirt of yours, the door left open at first, food dish can be placed in the crate, too. It would be very helpful to begin a serious effort to crate train Snicker b/c it would probably solve the problem of defecating everywhere (unless his blood work shows a physical reason for that)
      5. Dogs strive to understand us; training is something they often perceive as interesting and fun. But don't forget to do lots of things that are pleasurable for you with your dogs: the walks & car rides that they love. :)

      Undoubtedly you have tried some of these things already, but I hope you don't give up! Best wishes to you all.

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    2. One more trick to slow down biters, besides trying to avoid all situations which will trigger biting (your #1#defense-against-biting):
      A dog who bites is faaaaaaar less likely to do so if he already has something in his mouth. So if Snicker has a favorite toy, keep it at hand & when he is about to be presented with a tough situation, hand it to him. Then get him out of the situation.

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  53. Kerry, I can't tell you how much I needed to read your blog today.

    I started my 3 1/2 year old boxer-mix rescue dog on prozac today. It was a no-brainer choice after she recently bit a 12 year old boy crossing through our yard. This occurred after a year of escalating behavior (fear aggression towards other dogs, visitors at the door and especially the UPS man!).

    Our brief history:
    Just over two years ago, I had to unexpectedly euthanize my 3 year old Puggle, Lilly. We had her from the time she was 8 weeks old and though she was supposed to be "the kids' dog," she ended up being mine. I adored her and I was devastated when she developed a rare immune disorder (IMHA). Friday night she was playing with the neighbor's dog - running around - and on Monday afternoon I had gathered my five kids from school to say good bye to her at the vet's. Still makes me tear up thinking about it.

    Anyway, in my grief, I sought out a new dog and chose "Rosie." She came from a rescue group and has a truly heart-breaking story. Looking back, I shouldn't have gotten a dog so soon, but hindsight is always 20/20 and she is now a part of the family so we're committed to her and helping her.

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  54. Continued...

    The first couple of months in our home (we got her when she was 18 months old and had just delivered a litter of puppies), she was very docile. We thought something might be wrong with her vocal cords because she never barked. Slowly she came out of her shell and I began basic training with her (she spent months on the street so even leash walking was a new skill for her). She is very smart and learned how to sit and stay quickly. I thought everything was going well. As I said, I have five kids who at the time ranged in age from 17-5. She behaved well around all of them.

    As the months went by, I started noticing little things. She began barking at the door bell, and then charging the door. I started to read up on dog behavior and especially behavior in rescue dogs. She also became skittish around people when we went for our daily walks. One time she barked so loud at a little girl it really scared me (I think she has a particular dislike for girls between the ages of 3 - 10). I kept her under my strict supervision and kept exercising her thinking she just need more activity. At her year mark with us, I started talking to our vet about the behavior I was seeing and she recommended consulting a behaviorist which we did. The behaviorist was great, helped me understand dog behavior and gave me a few suggestions. When I worked hard, I did see some improvement on walks and her reactions to people and dogs, but I was always uncomfortable with how she would react in new situations.

    A couple of months ago she snapped at the UPS guy from behind and I redoubled my efforts. Still she was getting more anxious on walks and more amped up with visitors to the house. I think I knew we were on borrowed time. Four days ago, she managed to nip a 12 year old boy cutting through our yard (I've repeatedly asked the kids in the neighborhood to be mindful of Rosie when she is out, but they persist in using our yard as a short-cut). She is contained by an electric fence - which is a blessing and a curse - and I always supervise her when she is out - however, my children are not as consistent and she got out without supervision. That's all it takes. One time. Now my stomach is in knots just wondering, "will we get sued? Will we lose our house? Will we lose our retirement? We have five kids to raise!" I talked to the mom twice, she says her son is fine and fortunately they have dogs too so they are sympathetic.

    I went to the vet yesterday and fortunately, after hearing everything, she suggested prozac. We'll continue to work on behavior and desensitizing her, but I feel like she is in such a heightened state of anxiety all the time, that I can't really work on modifying anything until she is more receptive. There is no distracting her once she gets agitated and she goes from 0-60 almost instantly.

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    1. Nerina!
      Of all the dozens of comments left on this post over the last two+ years yours is the most similar to our experience:
      You adopt an 18 month old shelter dog after losing a beloved companion. The dog seems "normal" for a long time before anxiety sets in, with added triggers and mounting aggression. Every time the door bell rings you know there could be an incident. The dog bites a neighbor...thank god it's an understanding neighbor...You don't want to put your dog down, but you worry about litigation...you seek help.

      This is all STRAIGHT out of Reub's play book. Except Reub actually bit 2 understanding friends, not one.Two things make your situation more challenging then ours, though. You have young kids at home who are likely to continue to leave doors open (and Rosie may also feel the need to "protect" them), and your yard does not have a physical fence around it. If you can afford it, address the fence issue asap. It will keep kids from using the yard as a short cut and give you some peace of mind. Even if it's just a woven wire fence.
      Reub has never gotten over his alarm at the UPS guy, but in so many ways he is better than he was 3 years ago. I hope that Rosie makes a similar journey. Any helpful tips that you pick up along the way, please please do share. There are so many of us who are working with difficult, beloved dogs.

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    2. Kerry, the best aspect of this blog is knowing that I am not alone in either my anxiety or in my devotion to my dog. Also, just being able to articulate the problem to others without fear of judgment is enormously helpful. I was just saying to my husband that there is a certain amount of shame associated with having "a dog which bites.". Sigh. I agree with your advice about a physical fence. My ever-resourceful husband is on the job!

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    3. Nerina, There is shame, that's for sure. Because it's hard to talk about, I think the problem of biting dogs may be more prevalent than anyone realizes. I believe that shelters take on a high number of "biters" from people who don't divulge the full truth.

      Good for you and your husband: committing to help Rosie is very admirable. All the best to you.

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  55. We have noticed a big improvement in high levels of barking and anxiety once we stopped our dog from coming into our small living room at night. For some reason he barks a lot when he is in a room with us but calms down when he is on his own. He has his own comfy corner and knows to go there to relax and sleep. He did whine a bit when we first shut him out but he has now got used to it and if I go in at night he is sleeping very peacefully.

    He has had a 20mg tab today -his first. Nothing has changed so far!

    I cant buy generic Prozac online in the UK and my vet is very expensive (Lilly) so this is a big worry.If anyone has any advice can they let me know?

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    1. It's great that you have noticed that the dog's environment affects his behavior.That's really helpful. It will take at least a few days for the prozac to take effect.This is indeed an expensive drug. We get generic fluoxetine via our own pharmacy, with a prescription written by the vet--much less costly this way.

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  56. Day 2 of Prozac! Jock is a dog who believes that defence is the best strategy and will air snap or bite (only my partner has been bitten) we were warned not to use Prozac by a trainer although I don't believe they have any experience of it -nor do our vets so we are really on our own. If a dog like Jock who has a very low bite threshold does not get more aggressive on Prozac its hopeful for 'non-biters'!

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    1. A minority of dogs on prozac may develop further aggression, so that may be a concern for your vet. In our case the drug has definitely been a good tool for Reub. Fingers crossed that it works for your boy too!

      I'm traveling this week, so I wanted to let you know I have limited access tothe internet & that's why I've been a little slow to respond to you. I'll be back on schedule in a few days:-)

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    2. Jock is not showing any symptoms as yet and we have thunder and hail which he hates.
      His defensive barking and anxiety are the same as before and he just seems a bit more tired in the evenings but he is eating as normal thank goodness as I hide the pill in cheese before he has it.

      So far so good and we'll give it 2 months before we decide if he stays on it or not.

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    3. Reub's defensive barking has been an ongoing training challenge. We've developed a few strategies, but nothing works perfectly, and it's harder when there are two dogs involved-both barking, but one of them in a not-good way. Over and over we work with him greeting people appropriately at the front door. It's a wonder he isn't fat as a pig with all of the treats we go through.

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  57. yes I'm glad we only have 1 dog - he is definitely acting more friendly to dogs and people and shows us more attention. Unfortunately there have been lots of storms and thunder which make him anxious all day so if the wind really blows or it hails he'll bark at it - weirdly enough if we are not in the room he doesn't bark but if we are he does. I'd love to know why? Perhaps he feels more confident in chasing away threats if we are all together but on his own he feels less so?

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    1. Good question. Maybe he feels he needs to sound the alarm to the people he loves. :)

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  58. My thanks to Kerry and all owners of special-needs dogs. Tomorrow my Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Ollie, will begin 20 mg fluoxetine therapy. (My name is john, this website isn't accepting my name!)

    Ollie exhibits a combination of anxiety (when I leave the house) and aggression (toward dogs during walks, and in general when other people are in the house). His behavior has grown slightly worse since the death of my partner and the given fact that I am preparing the house for sale. Ollie's been with me since he was 8 weeks old, and we understood the importance of early socialization because he was our fifth dog. Everything was normal until he turned 15 weeks, and it's like a switch was flipped in his head. Strangers were no longer a joy to meet, and instead he backed away from them and growled. There was never a time or event when he was badly treated, so I cannot explain what happened. Time and trainers have generally helped Ollie, but he remains a challenge for me to handle. I hope fluoxetine will help calm him during this stressful period of change and allow him to more fully enjoy the richness that is life.

    Several of the above comments have me particularly concerned: the rare cases of aggression (Ollie is not aggressive to me), and the dulling of what is otherwise a dog who is a lot of fun (especially his "good morning" greetings!). I've bookmarked this page and will offer updates as we go. Thanks again everyone!

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    1. John, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your partner. Dogs can't help but be affected by such an event, but with time and the distance that the new dwelling will bring, I hope he settles down.

      As you are dog-savvy and have more knowledge of the PONS than I do, I will add (for those with no familiarity of this breed) that some breeds are more naturally watchful, and that this cautious trait may become overly pronounced as the dog grows into adulthood, even given early socialization. A Polish Sheepdog is such a breed, so it's a great that you're on top of it and getting help from trainers.

      There is a certain percentage of dogs for whom fluoxetine causes heightened aggression, but I think it's a small minority and hope that it does not include your boy. But I would be surprised if you don't notice loss of appetite and dullness of spirit in the first weeks of adjusting. For Reub these were temporary, thank goodness.
      Please do return to this site and give updates. Everybody who lands here needs and appreciates information. Best of luck to you, John, and your beautiful shaggy dog.

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  59. Hello. The vet just prescribed Fluoxetine 10 mg for my Beagle/Dashound mix. Becca is a 2 yr old rescue. She is afraid of everyone and everything. She seldom barks, and yelps a lot when touched or unsure. The vet thinks this medicine might help to 'bring her around'. She had to have been abused for her to behave like this. My concern is peeing. Our Daisy who passed away 2 yrs ago was put on a medicine for anxiety (company over, storms, fireworks) and it just made her sleepy and she would pee while she slept. I am concerned about putting Becca on this medicine for fear she will pee while sleeping, and she sleeps in my bed. Any thoughts on this, or has anyone experienced this side effect?????

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    1. Poor little Becca. Yes, you don't want to give a sedative that will cause her to sleep through everything. Fluoxetine isn't really a sedative though there was a period at first that Reub seemed dopey. At night he was actually more restless than usual for a few weeks, but that wore off too. Peeing in his sleep was never a side effect for him, thank goodness.
      Anybody else have a word to put in on this? Because what was the case with my dog may not have been so with yours.
      Meanwhile, Becca's mom, please come back and let us know how things are going.

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  60. Thank you for sharing Reub's story. My Jack Russell came from a respected breeder. He was not my first Jack so I knew early socialization, exercise, and training were essential to his happiness. He bit me viciously at 2 months old when I took a pencil away from him, so I knew we were in trouble. The breeder referred me to a behaviorist and we worked through his resource guarding successfully. I thought that was the end of it, until I noticed he was overly dominant with other puppies during class and at play. He chased and chased, then started jumping on their backs and biting them. Okay... So I took action by increasing his exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog, right? Not in this case. It seemed to fuel his dominance. One day when we were out walking, my neighbor came toward us with her shi tzu. My JRT lunged so fast the leash flew out of my hand and he was biting the other dog on top of her neck. Terrifying! We continued our training, adding distraction when he saw another dog but his behavior escalated so quickly that no amount of chicken, steak, etc mattered. We were up to novice level in our group obedience classes. He seemed fine in the ring. Then things took a turn for the worse. He started attacking dogs he knew and having what I can only describe as panic attacks during class. Yelping, jumping, twisting in the air. He sounded like he'd been hit by a car. I began to worry about neurological issues and took him to the vet who prescribed fluoxetine. It took a good 8 weeks before I noticed much of a change but now he actually focuses on me instead of other dogs in class. Outdoors is still a challenge but at least he's accepting treats when he sees another dog approach. I forgot to mention he was also urinating all over the house. Even on our beds if we forgot to close the doors. That situation has also improved.

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  61. Wow, that's quite a story. I am SO glad that you're seeing improvement and glad that you stuck with the meds long enough for them to kick in. I would call that pretty dramatic improvement! Your commitment to your dog is exceptional.

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  62. Thank you for your kind words. I truly believe fluoxetine has helped my dog. Not only does he seem more focused, he accepts affection. He used to be all over the place. Too hyper to relax and let me pet him. Now he snuggles against my hand for more petting. As I said, it took quite awhile for the drug to kick in but the wait was worth it!

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  63. How much weight did your dog lose? Our dog started on the drug about 2 months ago and she has lost about 10 pounds since then and, like what you said, she doesn't seem as happy. It is worrisome.

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    1. Reub has never been overweight, so when he lost about 5 lbs he was looking mighty thin. After a couple of months his appetite returned. If the weight doesn't stabilize & your dog is becoming dangerously thin it's time to consult the vet. The period of adjustment was rather hard on us, especially when he seemed so dopey & lost his exuberance. All of that eventually vanished, thank goodness. He regained his appetite and recently got so excited about a squirrel that he bolted after it and tore a ligament in his hind leg. Sigh. There's always something.

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  64. We are now into week 5 of Prozac and any fears of side effects were groundless. There have been no adverse reactions at all and I am really glad I tried it.

    He is much more affectionate and less confrontational and a bit calmer .We have had BIG fear aggression issues with close handling from us and vets so essentially this is what we want to change. He has severe noise phobias and is sometimes too anxious to go on walks. Hopefully after week 6 we may see some progress here.

    Don't let anyone stop you trying Prozac for your dog in the UK its virtually unheard off and I wish this would change.

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    1. Yaaay for Jock! I am so glad he has shown improvement. Now that your vet and reticent trainer can see it's helping, perhaps they will be more open to advising other dog owners in the UK. When carefully prescribed, after doing the proper tests, this drug can be very helpful.

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  65. Thank you for posting this blog Kerry. It has been so helpful. My dog has now been on Fluoxetine for 4 weeks. He is still very lethargic and when outside still scans (he is very reactive to scents, people, and dogs), but almost in a zoned out way. Reading the above posts, it seems it can take the full 6-8 weeks before the dog adjusts and perhaps returns to higher energy levels?

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    1. Yes, that's right. It's good if his reaction time is slowed, but a completely dopey dog is sad. If he never gets over the dopiness, try dosing at a different time of day & re-check with your vet on the dosage amount. But this side effect should mostly wear off. Good luck!

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  66. Hm. He is 80 lbs and taking 30mg daily so it's a low dose. I could transition to giving it to him at night instead of the morning and see how that goes.

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    1. Teeler, we switched from morning to PM & it seemed to help. I hope it helps your guy.

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  67. I Started my 4 year old French Bulldog on fluoxetine about 24 days ago 30mgs for a 40lb dog. He seamed fine at first but now is not eating unless I hand feed him having a hard time with stairs and not playing with toys. The biggest is he's trembling/ shaking/ muscle twitching a lot. I'm worried he's maybe sore from this as he's very unhappy whinnying at toys but not playing. Last night he whined because he wanted water but need my help. I don't know if this drug is for him. I called our vet and she is having him do 3-4 days off the meds then reduced dosage to 10mg Do you think these symptoms will subside? His anxiety issues have decrease and was great at first. I feel like i want to give him more time to be "normal" again then start the low dosage any feed back? Thanks!

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    1. Hi there H&C. Reub had similar symptoms in the first month or two. We changed when we dosed him from am to pm. With time he completely overcame these sad side effects, thank heavens. That trembling... :-(
      So I guess I would go with your vet's recommendation & give it time? I know this is hard when your dog seems troubled. I wish you and your buddy the best! Let us know how it turns out for you, the good the bad and the ugly.

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    2. Thank you. I've always given it to him before bed every night. He did finally eat more on his own. it's going down stairs which is killing me the main way get get outside requires going down 3 flights. he goes up just slow. each day seems better and i hope the low does help. thanks for this blog has helped me feel reassured.

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    3. I hope he continues to adjust positively. Poor little guy.

      Reub has been on Prozac for 3 years now & people think I'm kidding when I tell them. May it be so with your dog as well.

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  68. I've posted here before when we were considering starting my puppy on prozac. He is now over a year old, and the first few months of prozac were GREAT. He no longer obsessively licked, he seemed to have much less tendencies to be scared outside, and didn't seem to experience any separation anxiety. Fast forward to a month ago, and we began experiencing the full effect of not only his obsessive behaviors returning, but also the "teenager" coming out in him. We began first coming home to seeing that he had bald spots on his behind again (from over grooming, he never does this when we are home) then it escalated to shredded dog beds, and even our couch cushions! He feels very trapped and anxious in a crate, so we didn't know what to do. We ended up hiring a behaviorist, and are working with him and have seen many improvements, but I have to say the prozac really doesn't seem to be working anymore. He started on 10mg, and now is on 15. My vet says she doesn't feel comfortable going higher than that.

    We Skype while my fiancé is at work, so he can watch moose while I'm gone. We have corrected him when he goes to chew on the couch, and he has since stopped attempting that. He know licks himself, and I will come home to a wet spot on the couch. My fiancé says he doesn't look stressed when he licks, but this concerns me. Should I really push my vet to let me up his dose to 20 mg? Or should I hope that the training works and keeps helping him? I feel sort of trapped because somebody needs to be watching moose on Skype, preventing my fiancé and I from both leaving the house at the same time.

    Eeeek, advice please! :)

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  69. Hmmm. About the licking. I wonder if it's more than anxiety. Dogs who have flea allergies groom their bottoms bald, for example. Is he licking his feet? He could have a condition that young dogs get, something to do with the toenails. My vet was recently telling me about it. But presumably your vet is savvy to that &has examined his feet, or the areas that he's licking.

    How many hours is Moose alone? Do you think he would enjoy a doggie daycare? Is there somebody who could walk him while you're gone? I'm sure you've thought of these things. Of course the more exercise he gets, the better.

    I don't know how big your boy is, but Reub weighs 58 pounds and gets a 40mg dose.

    I wish there was some magic thing I could say that would help you!!

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  70. I just happen to stumble across this blog. Our 12 year old Chihuahua has serious problems. It started when he was 2 years old. He became aggressive, had/has severe anxiety issues whether someone is coming or going, he goes bezerk. He was on Reconcile for a number of years (not cheap) and then got switched to Fluoxetine generic human form. He only takes 5mg even though he could take 10 mg for his weight. It has gotten better with the medication and he is by no means a zombie. He is still very hyper active but overall without the medication we would have to put him down. He will bite as well. Yes, he has bitten us. People say we are crazy to keep him but we still love him and feel he deserves his full life.

    The vet in VA was super good. He would give an entire year's prescription for Fluoxetine, not so in FLorida. They want all the blood levels, an office visit and more to give you the prescription and they are very expensive. Each visit around $150. The Florida vets try to drum up business big time. They want $ 300 starting for teeth cleaning. I told the vet that if the dog is in pain or the tooth has deteriorated, I will get the tooth pulled. I will not let him be in pain. I told her that my husband and I do not have dental insurance and can hardly afford the dentist visits we make. Therefore, we have to play it by ear with the dog. He has absolutely no problems eating hard things or anything. We feed him a very good diet and give him fruit daily.

    I am upset with Florida vets. They think all the Northeners come down with pockets full of money and take adfvantage. All the businesses shrink when the people from the north leave.

    Anyway, I will have to take him in this week and get all the blood work done to get the prescription.

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    1. Hi Jo, Yeah, I'm not surprised that the vet won't prescribe without recent blood work. But I don't think that you should have to do it every year. Reub just had blood work re-done, but it had been 3 years and the vet left room for me to say no. It's expensive, but sometimes they find something important, especially in older dogs. Next year if you are with the same vet, see if they'll let it go without blood work. In the mean time, ask around at other vets, or at least google reviews of different vets & see id there might be somebody a little more flexible.
      Reub does not get expensive tooth-cleaning. I feed him a carrot every day after his PM meal & that gets rid of 90% of the tartar. Same with Eddy, whose teeth build up tartar pretty badly. Maybe your Chihuahua will eat a carrot? :-)

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  71. Hello,

    Im comforted in seeing so many ppl giving their dogs Prozac as I thought i was the crazy one. We have a 2.5 yr old basset hound and he has always suffered from separation anxiety and we hav never been able to leave him in the house not even 20 minutes so been using doggy day cares. The vet recommended giving him the snip and he will be alot calmer but it has made him worst and he started growling and lunging at ppl and now he wants to literally rip apart any dog that is still intact! We hv now seen a behaviorist that has started him on Fluoxetine 2 tabs once a day and its been 5 days but his aggression seems to get worse. He is no longer friendly with the little girl that he used to adore and play with. He lunged at her and almost took her hand off! I dont know if this is the side effects of the tabs and Im worried. We no longer enjoy our walks and walk in secluded areas where there are no ppl and dogs nearby.
    We are also moving house in a week so a little scared that he will probably hv more anxiety for that too.
    We want him to relax and be happy and get a buddy for him but behaviorist said he is very fixated on my husband and i and it wont make a diff in his anxiety issues until we sort it. So in 6 weeks he wants us to start another training program once the prozac is settled into his system.
    My question really is, is this normal that they get worst before the medication is well and truly into their system?

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    1. Hi Rachel, I can imagine how worried you must be. It is really stressful to have an aggressive dog that you simultaneously love & to whom you are devoted. The question of liability looms large.
      There are some dogs for whom fluoxetine does not work, but only causes further aggression. If you're only in your first week of the drug it might be hard to tell if this is the case, or if he's just going through the transition into the drug. The 1st weeks of prozac were strange & troubling with Reub. He seemed drugged & anxious at the same time, whiny and restless at night, off-keel during the day, and no appetite. But then he adjusted & these side effects disappeared.

      I would say: follow closely the advice of your behaviorist & vet & watch your boy closely. Right now he doesn't want any outsiders in his face, canine or human. But it would be good if he could see others at a safe distance, frequently, and be rewarded for appropriate behavior.

      Under the best of circumstances-with the drug kicking in- you may never be able to trust him completely, just as we will always have to manage Reub for that 5% chance that he'll do something loopy.

      I wish you the best! ((hugs))

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    2. Also: your behaviorist is very right to caution against a second dog right now. That would only compound your problem

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  72. I found your blog through a Google search. We just started my 8 year old husky on human fluoxetine last week for severe separation anxiety. My husband and I were concerned because she's been lethargic and has really lost that energy and excitement she had about walks, car rides and playing that we loved. Our vet told us it would take 3-4 weeks to see how she will really be on this medication, but didn't warn me she may seem almost depressed in the first few weeks. I'm glad to see cases where it's just an adjustment period. Hopefully we'll get our happy girl back soon. :) After 3-4 weeks we're going to start behavior modification too. We worked with a behaviorist/trainer before without medication and it just didn't work. So I'm hoping now that she's on medication I can use the same exercises and get better results.

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  73. Hi Anna, the lethargy at first was really sad to watch, but it sure did wear off with time. I bet it will be temporary with your husky as well. Working with a behaviorist is one of the best things you can do; I hope it works better after your dog has had a chance to be on meds for a few weeks. I hope you give it a good try and write again, letting us know what worked best for you. Good luck!

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  74. I am a return visitor to your site. My dog Mack, ( a 2 yr old lab- pit mix) that I adopted, has been living with me and my labrodoodle and I for 1 1/2 years. Mack was extremely anxious then, hence the fluoxotine prescription, and still is. I am here most of the time, he has a fenced yard, is fed well, takes walks, plays ball, etc. He loves people and has never displayed aggression toward any person, if anything he is overly zealous to greet visitors. We have dealt with food aggression and continue to do so, He has a high level of separation anxiety. He has also displayed extreme barrier frustration; dogs in fences 200 yards away, squirrels in the trees, anything outside his fence, I have been working toward resolving these as well. 99% of the time he is a well behaved, beloved member of the family. The other 1% is: unpredictable and vicious. He cannot have his nails trimmed without being sedated and muzzled. This week he attacked his best friends (during a barrier frustration moment) in such a way that we both have stitches and antibiotics; yet he seems clueless, as though it never happened. I have been told there is no answer to our plight. I do not have the funds to employ a full time behaviorist, nor am I willing to risk my other dog's life.
    Is there any hope for this 99% sweet boy?
    We do not have any tough case shelters or pit rescues near me. I truly believe he deserves more chances. He has 8 days left.
    Can you help us find an option? Please! Part of me will go with him : (

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    1. That 1% is the catch, isn't it. You have given a lot to Mack , but it's a never-ending problem, right? You get the food aggression in hand, yet there's this territorial-ism that he has. Only you and your vet can be the judge of how far this goes. If he puts the life of another dog or the well-being of you or or other people at risk, than you can at this point (because you have given it your best effort) think about what is next. You must give yourself permission to end this risk if indeed he is a danger to others. I hate that you have to face this decision, but it may be in your best interest to step back right now and wonder: "is it worth it to devote so much stress, time, money, and worry to a problem that I did not cause, and one that will not go away?"

      I do not take the putting-down of an animal lightly, but if your other dog is at risk of an attack-after all of your interventions-you may be faced with losing both him and Mack, and THAT would be truly terrible.

      If anybody else wants to weigh in on this, please do. This is difficult, to say the least.

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    2. Lynn, please let us know your outcome, no matter what.

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  75. Update: Jackson has been on 40mg of fluoxetine since December for separation anxiety and aggression towards my husband. The agression has gone way down and we've only had one incident in 4 months which is fantastic! We have been training him oit of the crate to being gated in a room. We have left him for up to 6 hours with no destruction. He is still anxious when we leave and I do have to guide him to the room by his leash. He still won't chew his toys while we are gone but I feel better that he's not couped up in his crate all the time. He hasn't been chewing any bones he used to devour. Did rueb's drive to chew toys and bones ever come back? Finding treats he is interested in again is tough he is much pickier now.

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    1. Reub's appetite and interest in marrow bones is completely back to normal, but it did take months. He likes to lay in the grass and chew up sticks these days. And he does love his toys.

      It sounds like Jackson's anxiety has decreased quite a bit (yaaay). I suppose chewing on toys (and gnawing on bones or sticks) might be something a dog is more prone to do when working off anxiety...maybe Jackson is just more chill than he was. Or maybe one day you will see a return of interest (hopefully without the return of aggression and destruction!)
      Anyway it's great to hear that there has been improvement. I bet your husband is glad too.:-)

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  76. Hi! This is a great blog that has helped me so far. My dog came from a shelter 6 months ago, and he has had constant episodes of tail chasing. He went for obedience training for 2 months and the tail chasing went away for one month, but soon came back.When I went to the vet for an anal expressing for his tail chasing, he went nuts. The vet said that I have a liability on my hands, and your dog is like a loaded gun. He has 2 bite incidents so far, and one of them was my fault for not having a muzzle on him when he went to the vet. The other was my sister who tried to pet him and he bit her jacket. Good thing it wasn't summer. He was abused, and was left tied to a bench, where a rescue picked him up. After getting him some training, the aggression has come down a little, but not enough to trust a stranger to pet him. That's ok with me, but the real problem for our family was the constant tail chasing and barking at night. I bought a citronella spray collar that worked very well, but the constant spinning was ruining my whole life. So my vet said my dog should see a dog behaviorist for his problem. I went today and they prescribed Fluoxetine 20 mg. 2x a day. I gave him one pill at 4pm and I already see a dramatic change in his behavior. This could be a lifesaver for me and my family. I will post later into treatment but so far I'm very impressed with this medication. No tail chasing tonight so far! Ty for all this info!

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