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HELP! Thunderstorm phobia


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#1
k9sign

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Hey everyone!

Most of u know my Tucker and Justice-the 2 bestest mini schnauzers in the world.

I am hoping to get some input abt thunderstorm phobia-I have read a bit on the internet, but I wonder if anyone has actually dealt with it.

Here's the background:

Justice is 8 yo, and an epileptic. He has never had any fear of thunderstorms in his life until abt a year ago. For a couple years he would have seizure activity due to the change in barometric pressure (but never had fear of the thunder or lightening). Once his seizures were more controlled he stopped breaking thru with seizure activity with barometric changes.

One day, over a year ago, he was having pre-ictal (before seizure) behavior when a thunderstorm began. He then had a grand mal seizure. From that time on, he has been terrified of thunder and lightening. I think he is associating the weird feeling he had before the seizure, and then the seizure with the thunder and lightening.
Terror is definitely the word to describe how he reacts when the noise and the lightening start.

Debs sent me a "Calming Collar" with calming herbs (safe for an epi), and it has helped. I also started putting a Thundershirt on him before a storm begins. Both the collar and shirt have taken him from absolute terror where I worried he would get hurt by his behaviors, to 'just' being very, very scared. He is so frightened he is having partial seizures.
I have set up a Soft Krate "man cave" for him, and even move it into the bathroom where he seems to prefer. I cover it with blankets and play calming music made especially for animals. I try to distract him with clicker training using treats before the storm starts and during it...but he totally shuts down for any food or play.
He doesn't stay in his 'man cave' -he paces, pants and tries to get into small spaces.

I really don't want to add more meds to his already pharmacy of daily medications. But, I will be talking to his neuro this next week, and I am guessing he may give him a medication to at least calm him so I can do some kind of behavior modification with him.
But, what??  Do i try a CD with sounds of a storm-does that really work? We are putting blinds up so at least if he is in my room he won't be able to see the lightening.

Does anyone have any idea's? Do I need to find an animal behaviorist? I know the neuro can (and probably will) give him medication so at least he can be worked with...but, I am at a loss how to help him.

Help!!!! Oh, and Rescue Remedy has never helped

Thanks!
Cindy


Here is Justice with his Calming Collar and Thundershirt on.  He looks calm since he is laying down-but I put him in that position hoping he would relax-but he is ready to bolt. You probably can't tell from this pic, but his eyes show his fear:

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Again, not as relaxed as he may appear-he is in "statue" mode-like maybe if I act like a statue that scary storm will go away.

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Edited by k9sign, 26 March 2011 - 11:12 AM.

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#2
Debs

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Yes Cindy I can see the terror in his eyes. I know the calming collar worked wonders for Riley but then he wasn't terrified like Justice is. Another thing I used was Rosi's Fear Less drops. I put them in their water bowl and Tyson my cat used to be terrified of them and he would run from one end of the house to the other frantic. It took a while but he now just stays on the bed. You can also just put drops on the back of their neck when they are frightened and it calms them. Here is the link to it http://noahsarkessen...6503344781.html You may have to scroll down to see the fearless drops.

I have to say it took a while to see some results when I put it in the water bowl but it was almost instant when I put it on the backs of their necks. Might be work thinking about instead of adding another medication to his regime.
Deb, Spike(RB 3/13/07), Riley (RB 8/12/13), Tigger, Jake, Tyson and Jax

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We don't get over losing the dogs who have been a part of our lives. We just get used to living without them. --Jim Willis

#3
k9sign

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Hi Deb,

I ordered the Fear Less drops. Hopefully they will help. Something needs to help this little boy.

I will be adding it to the water bowl, but also putting it on Justice's neck (I assume it's OK to do both).

I'll let u know what the neuro says tmw.

Thanks!!!


Oh, has anyone tried the DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone)?

Dog appeasing pheromone
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is a chemical developed to calm dogs suffering from separation anxiety disorder, astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning), fear of fireworks, or those with excessing barking problems.

The chemical is a synthetic analogue of a hormone produced by nursing canine mothers that is seen as 'promoting calm and secure behaviour and in establishing a bond with the mother.'[1]


I know they have a diffuser u plug in, a spray and a collar.
If I used it I think the spray and collar would probably not be what I would try.


Just curious if any of u have used it on ur dogs--or cats?


Thanks!
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#4
Jacki IMOM

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Cindy, I have the same problem with Sunny and I have tried everything I can think of. So far nothing has helped. He trembles so much that Pete thought he was having a seizure the first time he saw it.

I just cuddle him and keep telling him everything will be OK and that I won't let anything happen to him. It breaks my heart to see him like that.

Let me know if you find anything that works.

:wbd3:
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Pyometra is a serious uterine infection that is potentially fatal and can occur in unspayed animals. Spay and neuter -- it's the right thing to do!




#5
Beauty's Kathy

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We had a Great Dane who was terrified of storms...he would sit across everyone's lap and shake until it was over.

Have you tried Rescue Remedy liquid for dogs and cats?  You can actually put three drops on the tongue (or on the skin if you prefer) and it seems to really help. I also got the spray...When I was purchasing it (Whole Foods sells it) a lady said she literally lives on it..uses it several times a day so I guess it works and is safe to use. It helped calm down Psycho kitty from terrorizing the other cats.

Good luck
Kathy

#6
k9sign

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Hi Jacki and Kathy, thanks for answering.

AY YI YI Kathy, a Great Dane terrified of storms!! I can't even imagine what I would do if Justice was a big dog. I worry abt his safety becuz when he is terrified he tries to climb bookcases and also hide behind things where he doesn't fit. A Great Dane would surely knock furniture over on itself if it did what Justice does.

I have tried Rescue Remedy on both boyz--it does absolutely nothing. Some folks on the canine epilepsy list use it with great success, and others say it does nothing.
Deb uses something called Fear Less and gets it from the UK-she said it works really well with her puppers, so I am going to try it.
I know years ago I had tried RR the first time but it didn't help, but then I used another kind of drop and it worked well--wish I could remember what that one was. I tried RR again the past several months , but still doesn't help-darn-it's so easily accessible. Thanks for the suggestion though--Jacki maybe it could help Sunny??

Oh, Jacki, I can imagine why Pete thought Sunny was having a seizure-the shaking can be intense. Have u tried the Rescue Remedy Kathy mentioned?

I did discuss Justice with the neuro, and becuz his fear is causing seizure activity he wants him on something to help his anxiety. He thought abt Acepromazine (in the past it was thought ACE caused seizure activity in dogs, but now it's known it doesn't), but then we decided to use what I give after partial and complex partial seizures-sublingual Lorazepam.
I am to use it when it even looks like a t-storm is happening or the barometer makes a sudden change, since dogs are aware a storm is coming hours before we actually hear anything.
If that doesn't work, then we move to ACE, if none of the drugs help then he may refer him to a behaviorist at OSU.

But, with Niki's help we are trying a couple non-medical behavioral things.

Calming music (Through a Dog's Ear)  that I play at least 4 times when he is relaxed (not during a storm). Then I play it during a storm. If it isn't helping, then I stop it and go back to playing it a few more times when he is relaxed and there is no storm activity-so he associates the music with feeling of relaxation and calm.

Thunderstorm CD. It can take months for this to help, but it's something that I will work at daily with him becuz even if there is a chance it will help-I'll try it.
I have a CD of a thunderstorm. I have a pad he can lay on (it can be a mat, towel or whatever) that is ONLY used while desensitizing to the t-storm noise. The only time u leave it out is when they are totally sensitized to the sound of a t-storm-and it can be months.

So, I put the pad down on the bed and put the t-storm CD on so low u almost can't hear it. While he is on the pad I am massaging him and saying 'soft' and he will begin to associate the soothing massage and calmness of ur voice with the noise of a t-storm. I am to do this every day, even if only for 5 minutes for a few weeks, and then ever so slightly turn the volume up again and do the same thing for a few weeks...u can see why this process can take months. It's good if u can teach them to go to their mat so then later when u move it around they will go to it without having to put them on it.

You NEVER want to go too fast and scare them with the t-storm noise while they are on the pad. Plus u NEVER put the pad out during an actual thunderstorm until they are totally sensitized--months down the road.
I am to put the pad in different places (on the floor, on the bed, in the bathroom, in a crate), so all those places I am practicing and desensitizing him will feel safe.

EVENTUALLY when the t-storm CD is playing loudly and the noise isn't scaring him, THEN I can put the pad out during an actual t-storm, and he will associate it with calmness.

Of course some dogs are only nervous with the noise -and desensitizing them with the t-storm CD could help.

Justice is frightened of the noise and the light flashes, so David put blinds up this week up so I can shut out the lightening.

I have his "man cave" in the room he mostly wants to go during storms-the bathroom-so he can go into a totally dark place (Niki said not only to put a blanket or towel over it like I have been doing, but also to use pillows on the outside for a buffer to noise and vibrations).

Some say to rub them with a dryer sheet (I would have to find non-scented) and that will help the static they feel.

So...a t-storm is predicted for Tuesday. We'll see how he does with the calming music, the blinds closed, his Calming Collar and Thundershirt...and the Lorazepam.

Stay tuned...
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#7
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Cindy,
Myla & Sunny are terrified of storms too. On more than one occassion I have been awakened because the bed was shaking so badly from Sunny just shivering in fear. When I know in advance a storm is coming, I give her & Myla 2.5 ml of Children's Benydryl about 20 min before the storm is due. Yeah, I know it's drugging them but I have been afraid several times that one or the other was going to have a heart attack because they are so terrified - better to drug them than watch them die from heart failure. . . .

I have not ordered this yet, but a good friend with a mill dog who is worse than Sunny in storms just sent me an email the other day.  She has been using Calms Forte for Megan and says the results are amazing. I've seen Megan in a storm and honestly, I have never seen a dog so afraid so if Dana says this works then it is worth a try.  I'm ordering some so the next time I see you, remind me and I'll bring some with me. You can read about it on their website here:  http://www.hylands.c.../calmsforte.php. The other thing someone told me works although I haven't tried it yet either is Star of Bethlehem.

If a storm hits here before I can give the girls the Benedryl, I give them a syringe of meds then get the treats and start working with them to sit, lay down, etc.  If I can get their attention away from the storm, they do settle down although the first 5-10 minutes spent trying to distract them is difficult. I have also been known to sign, dance and play with them to distract them.  I do a lot of stupid, happy things to try to get them to focus on me and ignore the storm.  I also keep chicken strips on hand (high value treats around here) that get their attention better than pup corn in a storm.

I don't know if any of this will work for your kid but maybe. . . . .

Hugs,
Pat & The Spoiled Royals

#8
k9sign

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Well the t-storms are now forecast to arrive abt 4AM and continue all thru tmw. If it is storming in the AM, I won't put Justice in the car to go to the neuro. I'll have to reschedule.

Hi Pat, oh poor Myla and Sunny. I am glad they can take the Benadryl. I have heard others that use it for calming also.
Unfortunately, Benadryl reduces the seizure threshold in epileptics -so the boyz can't take it. <sigh>

I checked the Calms Forte and didn't see any recognizable issues with their epilepsy. I do have something that Patty from MedVet told me worked well for her dog and a couple clients-it's a small chewable homeopathic remedy for dog anxiety (I'll have to check the name). I had Dr Fenner check it out and he ok'ed it. It just hasn't done anything for Justice. I am seriously thinking abt popping a few myself. LOL.

I am really hoping giving the Lorazepam before he gets upset will allow me to work with him doing things like "sit", etc. Trust me, I have done some pretty clownish things to get his attention during a storm or just to try and get him to take a treat--but it doesn't work--he just shuts down. Which is why we are adding the Lorazepam--maybe I can get his attention, like u can get the girls after they have Benadryl!

Hugs!!
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#9
mikken

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Cindy,

Has his thyroid been evaluated?  I only ask because seizures/hypothyroidism go hand in hand and my terrier girl was NEVER bothered by thunder until her thyroid tanked at age 8.

I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Dodds' work on canine hypothyroidism, but her testing is the best at HemoPet!  I send all my thyroid stuff there now (after a bad experience with Michigan, the only other lab which can run the full thyroid panel).   You can get info on testing here - http://www.hemopet.org/services.html

This is a great link for info on epilepsy (especially the "If I knew then what I know now" section) and hypothyroidism ("Clinical signs of canine hypothyroidism" includes fears and seizures) - http://www.canine-ep...om/site_map.htm

Good luck!

#10
k9sign

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View Postmikken, on 06 April 2011 - 12:45 PM, said:

Cindy,

Has his thyroid been evaluated?  I only ask because seizures/hypothyroidism go hand in hand and my terrier girl was NEVER bothered by thunder until her thyroid tanked at age 8.

I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Dodds' work on canine hypothyroidism, but her testing is the best at HemoPet!  I send all my thyroid stuff there now (after a bad experience with Michigan, the only other lab which can run the full thyroid panel).   You can get info on testing here - http://www.hemopet.org/services.html

This is a great link for info on epilepsy (especially the "If I knew then what I know now" section) and hypothyroidism ("Clinical signs of canine hypothyroidism" includes fears and seizures) - http://www.canine-ep...om/site_map.htm

Good luck!


Hi Mikken! Thanks SO much for replying. Boy great minds...
I was absolutely positive Justice was going to be hypothyroid. He was tested last month. He was mid-range. I was shocked.

Justice isn't on Phenobarbital so I didn't have to worry abt doing the Michigan panel with him. I do the Michigan panel with Tuck, and I am seriously thinking abt doing it with Dr Dodds next time.

I really appreciate the Guardian Angels link. To be honest I had forgotten abt that resource. I have been a list member of epil-k9 for many years, but rarely post.

If anyone reading this wants to know more abt the kind of seizures I talk abt with the boyz-partial/focal and complex partials and grand mals--the link Mikken provided gives that information.

Do u still have ur terrier little girl? Is/was she on medications? Can u post a pic of her?
Tuck's seizure meds are Phenobarb and Keppra; Justice's seizure meds are Felbatol and Keppra.

Thanks again for the info links!!
Hugs!


Justice had a great neuro exam today. We discussed the thunderstorm issue, and the fact that his sublingual (under the tongue) Lorazepam helped immensely this past Monday during a storm, and he had no seizure activity. We just need to be sure that if he gets Lorazepam for more then 4-5 days in a row for storms , that if he then has seizure activity we need to switch to his butt meds (valium) for any seizure activity for a few days (for the most part both boyz get the butt meds just for GM's).

Storms are forecast tmw thru Monday...so 4 days in a row. <sigh>
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#11
mikken

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View Postk9sign, on 07 April 2011 - 07:01 PM, said:

Hi Mikken! Thanks SO much for replying. Boy great minds...
I was absolutely positive Justice was going to be hypothyroid. He was tested last month. He was mid-range. I was shocked.

Justice isn't on Phenobarbital so I didn't have to worry abt doing the Michigan panel with him. I do the Michigan panel with Tuck, and I am seriously thinking abt doing it with Dr Dodds next time.

Well, if you want to save some $ (and who doesn't?), you can send your Michigan results to Dr. Dodds and get her opinion on them as relates to seizure activity.  She does consults for a mere $35 (last I checked) and she'll talk to your vet AND to you (I once called her at home accidentally - I had no idea it was her home number!  Not only was she happy to talk to me, she had my girl's information on her computer right there!).  I don't use Michigan any more because they are convinced that if an animal is in "normal" range, then all is fine.  Which may or may not be the case...it wasn't for my girl.

So Justice's numbers might be good enough or they might not, depending on his age, breed, and symptoms.  Dr. Dodds is the only one I know who takes all of these factors into account when evaluating thyroid numbers.  FWIW.

As for my hypothyroid girl, yep, she's still trucking along at age 17.  Still on thyroid meds, still doing great with them.  Her arthritis is starting to be an issue (we now have steps up to the furniture for her and she's on pain meds), but considering that she was diagnosed with early onset arthritis at age 6, I'd have to say that she's doing pretty darn good.  She can still gallop along in the grass (not on pavement, though - hurts her feet) and gives the local chipmunks a hard time.

#12
Tammy L.

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Many of my rescue friends swear by The   THUNDERSHIRT

My mom plans to try this for their little Pittie mix as she is beyond terrified of storms.

Thought I would throw it out there.

Tammy-IMOM


#13
k9sign

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View Postmikken, on 12 April 2011 - 08:56 PM, said:

Well, if you want to save some $ (and who doesn't?), you can send your Michigan results to Dr. Dodds and get her opinion on them as relates to seizure activity.  She does consults for a mere $35 (last I checked) and she'll talk to your vet AND to you (I once called her at home accidentally - I had no idea it was her home number!  Not only was she happy to talk to me, she had my girl's information on her computer right there!).  I don't use Michigan any more because they are convinced that if an animal is in "normal" range, then all is fine.  Which may or may not be the case...it wasn't for my girl.

So Justice's numbers might be good enough or they might not, depending on his age, breed, and symptoms.  Dr. Dodds is the only one I know who takes all of these factors into account when evaluating thyroid numbers.  FWIW.

As for my hypothyroid girl, yep, she's still trucking along at age 17.  Still on thyroid meds, still doing great with them.  Her arthritis is starting to be an issue (we now have steps up to the furniture for her and she's on pain meds), but considering that she was diagnosed with early onset arthritis at age 6, I'd have to say that she's doing pretty darn good.  She can still gallop along in the grass (not on pavement, though - hurts her feet) and gives the local chipmunks a hard time.


Hi, again. Since Justie isn't on Phenobarb a Michigan Panel wasn't done (only Tuck has the Michigan panel). But I REALLY appreciate the consult into. I will def keep it in mind.
Thankfully the symptoms Justie was having where I thought sure he was hypothyroid have gone away.

Justie is doing better with storms now. Before starting to work with him doing desensitization with a thunder CD he was scared of even distant thunder. Now as long as it's not "on top" of us he does really well. When it's a strong storm he still paces and pants, but that has improved dramatically. So the desensitization, Calming Collar and Thundershirt are working well. Of course when it's really strong he now gets sublingual Lorazepam becuz he was having seizures with all storms (I don't even need to use the medication, ThunderShirt or Calming collar with distant storms anymore!).

I have been sick for abt 3 weeks and unable to do the desensitization like I was doing. We have storms forecast a couple times this week, and I hope he handles them as well as he has been!

I'm so glad ur girl is still doing so well! It's amazing she is still chasing chipmunks, especially being diagnosed with early onset arthritis at age 6. Is she just taking pain meds like Tramadol or is she on an arthritis drug? I know with epi's and some meds causing liver issues, it would be hard using a specific arthritis drug. I was worried when Justice had limping that he would need an arthritis drug or be in pain. Luckily Tramadol got him thru what turned out to be something like a "groin pull" in humans-but I don't know if it would work for arthritis.

Give ur baby a hug from me!!
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#14
k9sign

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View PostTammy IMOM, on 04 May 2011 - 04:05 PM, said:

Many of my rescue friends swear by The   THUNDERSHIRT

My mom plans to try this for their little Pittie mix as she is beyond terrified of storms.

Thought I would throw it out there.

Tammy-IMOM



Hi, Tammy, I hope ur mom does try the Thundershirt on her Pittie. It has helped Justice not only with storms, but walking into MedVet where he used to be so fearful, and becuz he was fearful would bark and growl like he was going to kill all the dogs we would have to walk thru. Now since wearing the Thundershirt the last 5 times we have gone to MedVet, he walks right past dogs and doesn't make a sound-and he is relaxed in the waiting room!!

Hugs!
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#15
mikken

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Good to hear that Justice is doing better with the storms!  We had some real house-shakers recently and even the cats were like, "Whoa!"

My old girl is on Tramadol now for her arthritis.  We tried Rimadyl, but it did not great things to her kidneys and she seemed "out of it" after a while.  Still tweaking the Tramadol to find what kind of dosing schedule works for her...

You're right, you do have to be careful about Tramadol with epi - it can lower the seizure threshold, so use with caution.




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