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Canine Behavior/11 yr Lab with possible Canine Cognitive Disorder

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QUESTION: Hello. Ive had my Lab (Taya) for 9 years. Very mellow dog  Spent the first 4 years on a ranch with a lot of outdoor time and the last 5 years as more of an indoor dog. She has done great with both lifestyles. In the last few months there has been some erratic/destructive behavior.  Mainly with getting into a litter box that has been in her life since day 1. I put a small gate up to keep her out of the laundry room with the box ( with an opening for the small dog that uses it to still get in). All was fine ,and then last week she started getting very restless with panting.  When I was gone at work she tore part of the gate off, got into the litter box and tore it up. Litter everywhere. She also clawed one side of a doorframe off.  The  panting and anxiety got worse. She wanted to be outside and is ok out there. Inside she is panting and wants out. She is nowsleeping outside on a lanai right outside my bedroom.  Does not even want to come in to eat  Had bloodwork done and all ok.  I have a lot of faith in my vet but can't afford to go to a canine neurologist, etc. which he suggested. Vet prescribed  Reconcile (Prozac)  and rimadyl. I think she has CCD based on what I've read and want to try the Enapryl. My vet will do this, but I'm wondering about side effects. I  will stop the reconcile first and make sure the half life is addressed   She has only been on the reconcile for 3 days  This is very sad.  Any thoughts?  Thank you

ANSWER: Anapril is one treatment for cognitive failure in an elderly dog.  Prozac and Reconcile should not be used together.  Prozac is an especially poor drug for use in dogs as it has some serious side effects in humans that the dogs cannot report to us:  heightened anxiety, panic, disturbed and confused behavior, etc.  My veterinary colleague and I studied its use in dogs many years ago when Cornell University was advising it as a treatment for aggression:  NOT a good idea.  Reconcile is intended for separation anxiety.  Your dog is not demonstrating this, she is demonstrating a reaction to something perceived, or real, in her environment.

The veterinary neurologist is required.  But, if your veterinarian is willing to try Anapril, you must ask him/her how to wean your dog off (SLOWLY) the Reconcile and Prozac.  These are serious drugs and withdrawal symptoms can be horrific in humans.

Let's do this: get the dog off the Prozac and Reconcile.  Do it properly under veterinary instruction (sorry to say, not every veterinarian is equal to every other; some are wonderful and gifted, others are not, just like medical doctors).  Then introduce the Anapril and a beta blocker (propanolol).  The beta blocker will truncate the fight/flight response to some degree and help to calm her; its use depends upon the health of her heart.  If she's comfortable outdoors, feed her there; allow her to sleep in a safe area where she can't just run off and no one and nothing can get TO her.  Allow several weeks to see what the drugs are doing, if anything.  Use followup feature to advise me.  You may really need a brain MRI of this dog and you will also require a full body x-ray.  I hate to inform you but I had a much beloved Ibizan Hound whom I just KNEW had something going on.  Blood tests all came back normal.  X-ray showed she was loaded with cancer.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response. I thought that Reconcile is Prozac, but you are referring to it as though two separate drugs. I've only had her on the Reconcile (only)  for 3 days, but will wait because I know it has long half life. I will get a full body X-ray tomorrow.  


Thank you

Answer
Yes you're correct it's a veterinary medication packaged differently from humans and I'm unsure of the difference in dosage and manufacture from generic fluoxetine hydrochloride.

It has a very long half life; three days is nothing.  Cut the dose in half for two days, then half again for two days, then every other day, every third, stop.  If you're unable to do that, ask the veterinarian to provide a prescription for the liquid form.  Perhaps in this compound it is okay to just stop after only three days.  

Let me know what x-ray shows; if you haven't, do full blood chemistry (not just CBC), look for cancer markers, unsure (I am not a veterinarian) what sort of cancer markers are used in veterinary medicine (there are cancer marker blood tests for humans).

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.

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I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.

Experience

30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for ThePetChannel.com for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, K9Shrinks@egroups.com. Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Organizations
Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Publications
Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Education/Credentials
Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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