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Thread: Dog experts--is this anxiety? (Sort of long--sorry)

  1. #1
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    Dog experts--is this anxiety? (Sort of long--sorry)

    Well, obviously it IS anxiety. The real question I guess is whether there is likely some cause other than just whatever factors messed up our dog before we got her. We have an approximately 8.5 year old shepard/lab mix. We've had her for about 3 years now. She was surrendered to a shelter when her previous owner decided that it would be too much trouble to take her with her when he moved. Month by month, we've seen her go from a very skittish, reserved dog to a much more outgoing girl who feels free to demand love whenever she wants it. However, she has always had some quirks that catch us unaware sometimes, and she seems to be nervous by nature. She sees the vet regularly and is up to date on all her shots, etc. Her last visit to the vet was just a few months ago.

    She occasionally just "freaks out." There's really no other word for it. She shakes so hard she almost falls down, drools, runs around us in circles, pants, sort of grunts softly with the exhalations, runs away if we reach out toward her...like I said, freaking out. We have not been able to find any reason for it. Sometimes, we can just be hanging around the house all day, and it just starts suddenly. Sometimes, we come home and she's doing it. It happens at irregular intervals, and she can go weeks without experiencing the situation.

    If it happens in the evening, we just turn out all the lights in the room and she'll just lay down and get over it quickly. Sometimes, we can distract her--throw a ball, give a treat, go for a walk--and it ends suddenly. Apparently, it was really bad tonight and lasted about 3 hours. DD came home and she was already up to full steam. Basically, I try not to play into it and give her the usual amount of attention--possibly a little less--because I don't want to reinforce the anxious behavior. DD was very upset; it's the first time she's seen her do it. She called me at work, and I told her to just ignore it and see if she calmed down.

    I got a couple more anxious calls from DD, worried about the fact that Thalia (the dog) was continuing to escalate the behavior. When I got home, I found them in bed together--with one very happy dog under the covers with her head on the pillow. She's showed absolutely no signs of stress since I've been home.

    DD wanted to take her to the vet tonight. I told her she could if they were open, but they were closing. I don't think it warrants an emergency trip. Honestly, I think it's all emotional. Any ideas? Crating her is out, by the way, because she was crated for three months before we got her and it doesn't go over well. It's stressful for all of us, and I believe that DD was so concerned for her that their anxiety sort of fed into each other.

    I'm probably a total sap, but I did by the pheromone release plug-in thing and some herbal dog stress-reducer. Don't know if they'll help, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something.
    Okay...it's time to pull up your big-girl panties and get on with it. (Seen on a bathroom wall.)

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  2. #2
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    Hmmm...I'm not sure what to tell you. I think it's normal...I have a shih tzu who sometimes, for no apparent reason, feels the need to run all over the house like a maniac, chase his ball/teddy bear, and just basically act like he's flipped his lid. Then he's done and goes back to sleep. I figure he has just has pent up energy to vent, so I'll play with him, we'll have a good time, he'll pretend to bite my hand, I'll growl at him, etc.

    But the key is that this does not last long. 3 hours? That says to me there must be a problem of some sort, but I'm at a loss as to what it might be...
    Erin

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  3. #3
    I'm no vet, but some of the symptoms seem like seizures. Maybe even epilepsy. Or could be a tumor. Our doggie started having seizures and was diagnosed with brain tumors where the olfactory (nose) nerves pass from the brain into the snout. Very common in lab breeds. Ours was also a lab/shephard mix. With some beagle just for fun. Although 8.5 years old is a bit young. But if it's worth it to you, get her some xrays to rule out tumors.
    Yikes, all this looks terrible. Here's hoping that it's nothing this serious. Good luck.

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    Looking at information on canine epilepsy and seizures, it seems like we should see some period of time--even briefly--that she is actually seizing and/or has lost control of her movement. I don't see anything like that. She just acts like a nervous wreck. And, since she tends to be a nervous dog, anxiety seems like a very possible cause. Certainly, we're going to have her checked out, but in the meantime, if it is anxiety, I'd like to help keep her calm.
    Okay...it's time to pull up your big-girl panties and get on with it. (Seen on a bathroom wall.)

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  5. #5
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    Some dogs do have mini seizures--the shaking and drooling sound like that--do her eyes lose focus? I'd certainly describe the entire episode to your vet --.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJeannette View Post
    Some dogs do have mini seizures--the shaking and drooling sound like that--do her eyes lose focus? I'd certainly describe the entire episode to your vet --.

    No, her eyes never lose focus. If anything, she becomes hyper-alert. She simply acts afraid--tail tucked w-a-a-a-a-y under, ears back, running in and out of the doggie door, back and forth across the room, around the sofa. It's the same behavior we've seen in her when we know she's scared--like in the early days, whenever we'd run the vacuum. It's just more extreme, and the episodes last longer. Also, there are times we can completely distract her and it's like throwing an off switch. It doesn't work every time, but when it does, it's dramatic.
    Okay...it's time to pull up your big-girl panties and get on with it. (Seen on a bathroom wall.)

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookin4Love View Post
    Well, obviously it IS anxiety. The real question I guess is whether there is likely some cause other than just whatever factors messed up our dog before we got her.
    We have an approximately 8.5 year old shepard/lab mix. We've had her for about 3 years now. She was surrendered to a shelter when her previous owner decided that it would be too much trouble to take her with her when he moved.
    Can't help but wonder why your dog was really surrendered to the shelter. There is some trigger for this behavior, and frankly it sounds like the poor thing is reacting to something she remembers. She has responded well to your family's kindness yet there may just be a subtle something that sets her off.

    Her behavior reminds me of my Border Collie's reaction to thunder. He'd hear it in the distance before we did and totally freaked out. Over time I learned that a storm was coming based on his sudden change of behavior. We would talk to him, or try to distract him with a bone or tennis ball to no avail.

    Bless your sweet DD for taking the dog into the bed with her to comfort her.
    There are homeopathic remedies for animals, one specifically for anxiety that might be worth considering.
    http://www.onlynaturalpet.com/produc...ty/120001.aspx
    Best of luck with figuring this out!
    "If you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

  8. #8
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    GingerPow--that's exactly what I think is going on. She is definitely tuned on "high def" to hearing things that even our other dog doesn't hear. For instance, from inside the house, she can hear a lizard under a tree at the back of our lot. We know, because she'll just about go through the door to get to it, then run straight to it and dig until it gets away or she catches it. Gross. We live on the edge of the desert, and there are certainly more wild things around us than in the city.

    I have always felt that she has fear triggers that we can't even begin to understand. I did get some homeopathic drops that are supposed to be for stress, as well. I don't know if they'll help, and I certainly don't want to overlook a larger condition, but that's what it seems like.
    Okay...it's time to pull up your big-girl panties and get on with it. (Seen on a bathroom wall.)

    Visit my blogs: Cooking the Books

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  9. #9
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    One of my two yellow labs does this, and it's because of rain. It doesn't have to actually be raining, changes in barometric pressure set her off. But when she acts like that, I know it's going to start raining soon, or it's raining a few miles away (sometimes it never actually reaches us). Of course when a full blown storm comes, she's an absolute mess.

    The only way we've found to deal with it is to put her in her crate in the basement, with a blanket over it. She actually calms down a LOT in there and stays in there happily.

    I don't know why she has this anxiety - we've had her since she was 8 weeks old, and she has never been traumatized. My other dog sits in the front window and would happily watch a tornado come straight at us without a second thought. One would think that the one dog would take cues from the other. But no. They're completely different.

    I feel badly for my poor scared girl, but as long as she's crated, she's fine. Petting her and trying to soothe her is the WORST thing we did. It totally exacerbated her anxiety.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grace View Post
    My other dog sits in the front window and would happily watch a tornado come straight at us without a second thought.
    Got a chuckle out of that image.
    "If you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

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