View Full Version : Senior dog dealing with severe anxiety

04-22-2009, 12:15 AM
My dog Muddy (age 12) has changed alot in the last few weeks. It isn't the Degenerative Myelopathy but it's that he has been acting very anxious. When we bring him inside to his room in the evening where he and Finnigan have their dog beds and food and water, he starts pacing and panting and whimpering. This has been their 'sleeping' room for years and he never acts this way but now, all of a sudden, he doesn't want us to shut the door when we tuck them in at night. He wants to be outside but we can't leave him out there because it's cold and there are wolves where we live and it isn't safe.

This all became progressively worse over the last week and the whimpering turned into barking. He starts at 3:00 in the morning and barks in the same way he does when he rides in the truck with us. He is a very nervous traveler and barks non-stop while we drive. The early morning barking is exactly the same, "bark" "bark" "bark" for hours.

I've been coming down at 3:00 a.m. to take him and Finn out for a pee and then when I tuck him back in and try and calm him, he shakes like a leaf and his teeth are chattering, just like he does when there is a thunder storm, except we haven't had a storm with thunder in ages.

So we took him to the vet yesterday and the vet feels that it is either something environmental that is troubling him or it could be dimentia. :( She prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac) and another drug called Selegiline. The pharmacy was out of the second drug and needs to order it in but I got the prozac last night and gave him his first dose. It did help alot. He barked but only for a bit and then stopped. We were so grateful because not only has it been upsetting to see him be so uncomfortable, it has been hard on Finnigan with the nonstop barking and we haven't gotten much sleep lately.
I read the literature that comes with the Prozac and it says that it should be combined with certain other drugs, including Selegilene so I've placed a call with my vet to ask her about it.

I've been looking alot of stuff up on the net and think that he could be deficient in B vitamins (anxiety is a symptom of Vit. B deficiency) and have been giving him a B Complex 100 pill for 3 days now. The vet said that was fine. He's also getting Vit. E and C that the holistic vet put him on a few months ago.

The other thing I'm wondering about is if he might be deficient in Niacin (B-3) which comes from meat I think. We stopped giving Muddy canned dog food about 3 months ago because his DM disease was causing him to have bowel problems and he was having accidents during the night. We cut out the wet food and haven't had a single accident since. But I'm thinking that the lack of meat might be causing a deficiency in Niacin and one of the symptoms for
this is anxiety.

On our way home from the vet I drove through the Wendy's drive through and got Muddy a cheeseburger for being so good at the vet. He LOVED it.
He seemed calmer than usual even before I gave him his first dose of Prozac last night. I wondered if the meaty cheeseburger helped him in some way. And thankfully he didn't have any accidents last night.

Does anyone have an old dog who has had to go on an anti-anxiety medicine like Prozac and has it helped? I hate to give him drugs like this but he is beside himself with nervousness and he needs help.

p.s. We do think that maybe he is reacting to wolves that could be passing by their window at night but I don't think so because our other dog Finnigan hasn't barked once and I think he would if he knew there were animals outside. And, Muddy's barking isn't the kind he uses when he sees another animal. When he sees deer or even crows (he hates crows for some reason) he barks wildly. This bark he does at night is repetitive and doesn't seem to be at anything in particular. :confused:

04-22-2009, 08:28 AM
Many vets recommend Prozac for pets. It seems to work wonders on many animals. It is not a horrible drug and was one of the earliest mood modifiers - on the market for years and years. I would stick with the drug for weeks and then try to reduce the dose. But of course, follow the vets instructions.

Hope this helps.

04-22-2009, 09:33 AM
I truly understand what you're feeling. Samson began showing signs of extreme anxiety, especially at night, when he was about 12. He was a hound/shepherd mix. He always slept with me. But he would pace and growl half of the night. I tried to keep him in bed by tying him to the leg of the bed, but he just chewed the headboard. He got confused, lost in the house, forgot who I was, and was a very grouchy and mean old man. The vet didn't think Prozac would be a good solution for him.

If the Prozac is helping Muddy, stay with it. Don't change anything else for a while until you know how it's working. Later you can try implementing with more meat, or niacin, or whatever. But if you try everything at once, you won't know what works and what doesn't.

Sending you prayers and patience.

04-22-2009, 11:43 AM
Thank you for your posts guys. I will stick with the Prozac for Muddy and see how it goes.
We had a very bad night last night and he barked for most of it. And when we went to let them out this morning we found that Muddy had had an accident overnight and pooped all over the floor. :(
Now I'm wondering if all this anxiety is over the loss of control over his bowels. He is always so good about doing his business outside and he may be stressed about having the accidents. We let the dogs out one last time just before we go to bed every night but this may not be enough anymore.

I'm going to see if there is any kind of diet that can help him. He is currently eating First Mate grain free dry kibble Chicken and Blueberry. It's a Canadian company.

He does seem confused too so maybe it's everything happening all at once to him. I feel terrible for him and for all our pets. I have a few cats who have an upper respiratory disease that lays dormant unless they are stressed. When it becomes active, they sneeze like crazy and get a fever and become lethargic for a week. They are all sneezing now because their room is located right above Muddy's and they hear him barking all night.

04-23-2010, 10:37 PM
Hello! I know your post was a year ago, but I thought my experience might help you, too. I have found in my senior dog that feeding him oatmeal with every meal is helping his bowel issues. Without it, he has diarrhea, and with it, he does great, and he seems so much happier. He just feels better.

He takes amitriptyline for his anxiety and nerve pain, but he did take Anipryl, and it worked wonders when he was on it (for about three years). My vet says that Prozac also is great. You have to do what works in these kinds of drugs because they do keep the dog happier. However, you can add some natural aids like the Calming Moments pills or Rescue Remedy for Pets. They do help to calm my old man down quite a bit.

Pawsitive Thinking
04-28-2010, 04:47 AM
Aww bless him. My first thought was dementia when I read your post so anything that can help relieve his worries can only be a good thing

Princess Ajax
01-19-2011, 03:24 PM
Did anything help? I am currently dealing with this same issue. My 10 yr old dog has developed night anxiety and panic attacks that have worsened over the last year. He has recently started on anxiety medicine, amitriptyline, and although it has helped it is still not great. I can't have my sleep and my families sleep disrupted in this way for much longer. Help, I am at the end of the road here.

Princess Ajax
02-04-2011, 12:28 PM
Turns out he was having seizures. He is on Pheno Barbital and doing much better.

05-25-2011, 09:11 AM
I have been reading the entries above and although they were entered quite a long time ago, perhaps someone is still reading them. I have a 17 year old female chihuahua who seems to have been having night terrors. She will wake up during the night, and like the other entries have stated, starts barking. This is keeping our household up and no one is very happy. I have tried lavender oil, Rescue Remedy and other herbs, and finally turned to my vet for Prozac. It worked at first, but now she won't go to bed at night and then wakes up barking again. She has also become very disinterested in food unless I hand feed her. I know she is in the December of her life and New Years is coming, but I may have to "help her to the other side" if this continues. I have been sleeping on the floor with her which has helped, but I am exhausted. Any ideas from other dog owners? Many thanks

05-25-2011, 01:44 PM
Being deficient of nutrients usually takes a long time to show up, especially if the dog is still getting a relatively normal diet for dogs. I doubt it happened by switching from canned to dry dog food. Believe it or not, most canned foods have less protein than dry foods.

Have you tried leaving a light on for him at night?

05-25-2011, 02:15 PM
Try a thunder shirt. You can order them online. They work wonders for dogs with anxiety issues and phobias.

05-25-2011, 03:11 PM
Thanks for the suggestions! I did put a night light in the room with her, and have also tried leaving room lights on, but she is still barking. She hates to wear any kind of apparel (she's quite the diva!) but I"ll try putting a sweater on her tonight and see if that comforts her.

05-25-2011, 05:31 PM
Have you had the Chi to the vet for a check up? Blood work can help eliminate a lot of things.

My friend's dog, Bob, has the same issues and they are trying different meds. The Prozac gave him a seizure, so that is out.

Doggie dementia can be controlled, if that is what it is.

04-28-2012, 08:20 PM
WELL!! Gave myself a good laugh this evening! I did a Google search: old dog anxiety. This thread came up as the third "hit." Read through and OMG my post! If doggie dementia can be controlled, I sure would like to know HOW! Ha ha haaa.

This is for my Marlin. He is on the Selegiline, I have a tight snug sweater on him (same idea as a thunder shirt). I am feeding him a second meal at 7 PM, using Melatonin and Bach's Rescue Remedy. I walk him for 45 minutes starting between 5 and 6 PM. I've added canned food to both his meals to increase his fluid intake. He is also getting Gingko Biloba. I am up for an hour and half every night between 1 and 3 AM, and we are both out in the back yard parading up and down as I TRY to get him tired again. Oh how I want to sleep through the night!

Tonight, I plan to give him half a Benedryl (for his weight, he can have up to 3/4 of one) as that usually makes my dogs sleepy.

Gosh I would love to know what the heck I was on about in that other post, lol. BTW my friend's dog, Bob, finally passed to RB 5 weeks ago.