For about a year and a half, Scotia has been on behaviour medications. These meds help her navigate a world that feels terrifying to her. She has tried a few different meds and a ton of different doses to get to where she is today.
At the very beginning, I started trying the calming treats that are available at pet stores. These are often made with blueberries, which tend to have a calming effect on dogs. These had next to no effect on Scotia. It makes sense to me now, but it was a bit discouraging at the time.
My next attempt was to try CBD oil, which also had little to no effect on Scotia. I was feeling discouraged in helping Scotia feel a little more calm, when I came across something on social media about giving your anxious/reactive/fearful dog behavioural medications. The post went on about how the medications could allow the dog to gain confidence and break the barriers they were living with. It completely changed how I feel about giving Scotia medications to help her.
The same as it is for humans, there is a lot of stigma around medications for dogs with non-physical issues. For humans, it’s more about mental health, for pups more about behavioural issues. I honestly think they’re pretty much the same.
Scotia first tried trazodone. It worked well and she was on this medication for over a year. After the year, I realized the medication had a more sedative effect than I was hoping. I wanted her to be able to be regularly medicated, but still partake in all her favourite activities like hiking. Trazodone was also becoming less effective.
After discussing with her vet, we tried alprazolam. She started on a low dosage and I wasn’t seeing much in the way of improvement. She was still very nervous despite being medicated. So we upped her dose multiple times, until the effects of the medications were visible in Scotia’s day to day.
She was doing super well on her suggested dosage of alprazolam; however, she was still having issues with things that made her very anxious. After discussing with her vet, we decided to add the trazodone on top of the alprazolam when needed.
Since this adjustment, Scotia has been on both medications and doing very well. Using the trazodone will be a shorter term addition, but the alprazolam will remain as a long term assistant in Scotia living her best life.
There have been many things I have noticed since Scotia has been medicated properly. Firstly, she is happy to be out hiking and adventuring. She is more likely to venture around and sniff. She is less nervous of other dogs. Sometimes she will even say hi (since she was attacked she has become exponentially more nervous of dogs, so saying hi is massive). The biggest change I have seen, is that Scotia has started to play with toys. Prior to this, Scotia had never been relaxed enough and comfortable enough, to play with toys. Below is an example of what has become a regular occurrence with her new favourite toy (sushi).
Seeing Scotia so incredibly happy and acting more and more like a regular, non-traumatized dog, makes me so happy. I have gone from skeptical of medications for dogs, to a huge advocate. I can’t say enough good things about how Scotia has improved. It honestly, so game changing. She has also become comfortable staying in our new home on her own so quickly. Last move, it took weeks. This time, properly medicated, and she was totally fine on her own within a week. Another training and learning experience we have gone through recently is booties! In Kelowna, it’s currently -28C as I write this. Booties are a must anytime we go outside. In our next post, we will chat about all the booties we have tried and what set of booties have actually worked (and stay on!).
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