Monday, March 19, 2012

Melatonin for dog anxiety

It seems that every night Leo is waking up between 2 and 3am with random panic attacks.
His usual sleeping place is at the bottom of my bed on top of my feet. I've gotten used to having him sprawled out down there by now and I've even managed to tune out his fairly loud snoring. He used to only wake up in the night if there was a thunder storm or lightening. Even before the storm started, he would sense it and suddenly jump on top of my head panting hard, shaking, and drooling profusely.
I've tried a million things over the years to deal with the storm anxiety. I used to be up in the middle of the night fighting to put drops of rescue remedy into his mouth, he hated it. Sometimes I would put him into his crate thinking he would feel safe and confined. That didn't work. He would drool and pee so much that he would be drenched all the way up to his belly and ears. What a mess that was to clean up. I gave him all natural tablets bought at the local pet shop guaranteed to work. As mean as it sounds, I've tried putting him in the basement (it's dark down there, I figured he wouldn't see or hear the storm) that also didn't work. He peed all over the floors and barked at the top of his basset lungs until I gave in and got him out. Then it was back on top of my head, panting, shaking, he even drooled inside my ear once-gross! One night it got so bad and after exhausting all of the above methods, I was dead tired half asleep and decided to try putting him in the garage which is attached to our kitchen. I opened the door and much to my HORROR someone had left the garage door open to the driveway and out he went running down the street in sheer panic. It was 1am and there I am chasing him in my pajamas, crying at this point. For some strange reason there were 4 young guys playing hacky sack out in the street and all I remember seeing is Leo in the middle of their game while they all tried to catch him. He was running from one to the other and than the other as lightening decorated the sky. Poor Leo he was so terrified, he was delirious. I felt so lucky when he spotted me running toward him he turned and came straight to me and let me take him home. Usually on a good day, when he runs away, if he sees me coming, he will only run that much faster to get away. Leo's storm anxiety has gotten worse, not better over the years and it has expanded to not only thunder and lightening but to raindrops, wind, and loud noises in the dark. I believe I have added to his anxiety by putting him into the crate, cellar, or garage when he is in panic mode. I feel like the worst basset mom in the world, but I have to draw the line at DOG DROOL in my ear. This past month he has been waking up in the middle of the night for no reason. No wind, no rain, no storm, nothing. I figure he must wake up now expecting to be suddenly thwarted to the dungeon. (being a dog, how would he know that this only happens when he has panic attacks.  This kills me. :(  So now I've really created a monster.  This past month I have tried giving him Melatonin a half hour before bed. He has grown to like pill time because he knows he gets a good treat after he swallows it. I have also given him daily doses of St. John's Wort. What I have noticed is, his panic attacks in the night, have decreased and when he does experience one like he did last night. He is able to calm himself back down in about 5 minutes time and fall back asleep. I can feel him shaking on top of my legs but he is not panting heavily or drooling. The shaking doesn't bother me, except that I feel bad for him but at least he is snoring while shaking so I know he's not too bad off. So overall, so far, my consensus is the Melatonin/St. John's Wort combo is working fairly well for now.

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