cody update

For those of you who follow the canine portion of this blog, I left you hanging yesterday with a snippet of news about Cody. I was worried and needed to see how things played out before I could write about it.

For the last year or so, Cody has been having episodes of fear and anxiety. I know many of you have had dogs who were afraid of thunderstorms or firecrackers. Our first dog had terrible firecracker anxiety. (It actually ended up changing the shape of our lives, as we wanted to get her out of the city on the Fourth of July, and that led to our annual trips upstate.)

But Cody was never like that, so this fear and anxiety was something new. And while she's afraid of thunder, as many dogs are, she's also afraid of some unusual things. If the windows are open and a breeze blows the curtains, she's terrified. At night, when the headlights of a passing car momentarily illuminate the wall and ceiling, she's terrified. If a door creaks, she jumps up and tries to run away.

Our vet told us that many dogs develop anxieties and strange behaviours as they age. It's the canine equivalent of senile dementia. That was sad to hear. The vet prescribed Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, to use on an as-needed basis.

Two nights ago, Cody had anxiety the likes of which I've never seen before. She was absolutely terrified. There was no storm coming, and the windows were all shut, so no curtains were blowing. She would startle, as if something scared her, but there was nothing there. She'd lie down for a few seconds, then get up, pace around, lie down somewhere else, get up, try again - classic canine anxiety behaviour. This went on for hours.

She would run upstairs, as if something was chasing her. Remember, this dog has arthritis and hip dysplasia, so she avoids the stairs. But on Friday night, she was running up and down stairs as if demons were in pursuit. And she kept coming to me for protection. Cody is normally not very affectionate, and she's not at all clingy. But on Friday night, she couldn't leave my side. It was really awful to watch.

I gave her the Xanax, and it would calm her down somewhat, but very temporarily, then she'd be at it again. I'd wait, give her another pill, it would work for a while, then she'd go nuts again.

Eventually she had enough meds, and probably wore herself out. She curled up next to the bed, where Buster always slept, but Cody rarely does. What's more, she could only sleep if I was touching and stroking her. For Cody, that is downright bizarre. I slept at the edge of the bed with my arm hanging off the side, so I could stay in contact with her, and we managed to sleep for a couple of hours like that.

The next morning, yesterday, I called the vet and made an appointment for Monday. But because we work all weekend, I was worried about how Cody would feel alone in the house. Our dogwalker could give her meds, but I'd hate to think of our poor girl trembling and terrified for hours by herself.

Talking to the vet, I discovered that we were using a very low dose of Xanax, and I could have given her more. (Damn! Wish I'd known.) That low dose may have been adequate in the past, but for this more severe anxiety attack, I could have doubled or even tripled the dosage.

So, knowing this, we gave her more Xanax before we left the house yesterday, and asked the dogwalker to do the same. And with that, she seems fine. When I got home from work yesterday, Cody was calm, and a little woozy, and she slept through the night, uneventfully. (I did, too.)

Now we're thinking we should wait and see what happens. If she has another anxiety attack of this magnitude, we'll give her the increased amount of Xanax, and maybe that will do the trick. If these episodes become more frequent, or if even the increased Xanax is inadequate, we'll go back to the vet.

neighbourhood snow march 08 009

neighbourhood snow march 08 019


M@ said...

Poor Cody! Dogs' mental health is, understandably, a difficult field. Sorry you had such a bad night but I hope it all passes soon.

mister anchovy said...

A very difficult situation. I hope the drugs help your dog through this.

allan said...

Snow nose!

laura k said...

Thanks, you guys. Much appreciated.

Amy said...

Wow, that sounds terrible. Is that where you disappeared to during the game thread? And after I confessed how we used to tease our dog who was afraid of bees? Maybe Cody heard that story somehow...

I hope the xanax helps her. I know it helps me with my flying anxiety. Poor puppy. So hard to know what would make her so anxious when they cannot speak to us except through their behavior.

Good luck.

laura k said...

Thanks, Amy.

Is that where you disappeared to during the game thread?

I was actually dealing with it the whole time during the game.

You may have missed my recent comments on JoS, but I mostly left the gamethread b/c I had to turn off the sound on the game. I found the announcers unbearable, and had to watch on mute, so I couldn't also read/type on the thread.

But it was also because I was trying to deal with Cody the whole time, and it was too many things to juggle.

So hard to know what would make her so anxious when they cannot speak to us except through their behavior.

That's always the frustration. If only they could tell us.

But as I said, the vet says it is related to aging. I swear it seemed like she was hallucinating. Poor girl.

Thank goodness for these drugs! (For so many reasons.)

Amy said...

I hope she is feeling better. How did Tala react to her behavior?

As for the announcers, they were annoying, though as usual for me, their words just blend into background noise. For me, it is one of the advantages of the game thread---I am distracted enough by reading and typing and watching the game that I really do not hear the words on the broadcast. I am sorry that it affected your ability to enjoy the game (and to join the thread since I miss your input there).

laura k said...

I hope she is feeling better.

She seems calm today, and was calm all night, thank goodness.

How did Tala react to her behavior?

Tala was subdued. She gave Cody a lot of space. Once the meds kicked in and Cody calmed down, Tala was back to her usual m.o. of bothering Cody, and we had to tell her to stop. But while it was going on, Tala steered clear.

I am sorry that it affected your ability to enjoy the game (and to join the thread since I miss your input there).

Thank you. :)

For the last few months, while I've been so overly busy and feeling scattered and unfocused, I've been purposely trying to thread less (with varying degrees of success).

I find that sometimes the gamethread turns into another distraction from the game - that instead of enhancing my enjoyment of the game, it ends up detracting. I spend too much time scrolling back to read comments and typing replies, and not enough time relaxing and watching baseball.

Plus, because the computer is front of me, I check Blogger for comments on wmtc, check email, and end up replying to both.

When I really should be lying on the couch, letting baseball soothe my brain.

On the other hand, I do miss the fun we all have in the thread. So it's a bit of a conflict.

impstrump said...

Oh poor girl! Those mean old demons should stick to harassing humans and leave poor innocent doggies alone! (I'm serious. I've met the demons, and no dog deserves that.)

laura k said...

Thanks, ImpStrump.

laura k said...

Don't know if anyone is subscribing to this thread, but...

Cody was relaxed all day Sunday. We gave her a low dose of Xanax before we left for work, and asked the dogwalker to do the same when he was in, just to be on the safe side.

When I came home from work on Sunday night, she was back to her old self. She didn't wake me during the night and is fine this morning (Monday), too.

I'll let you know if/when it happens again. Thanks for your support.

M@ said...

I'm subscribing! And I'm happy to hear she's back to her good old self. Definitely keep us posted.

Amy said...

I am still here also! I am glad she is feeling so much better.

Jen said...

Glad she's feeling better L-Girl. My dog growing up, Mac, had senile dementia at the end. It was horrible. He was so stymied by previously basic things like looking for the back door in the corner of my bedroom, sleeping in the closet (he never went in closets before), barking at us like we were strangers, etc. I'm glad there're meds as an option now and that they work for Cody. Jen

laura k said...

Thank you, Jen. That sounds so awful about Mac. I'm sure it was horrible.

We're ok for now, and we'll just have to see how it goes. I'm always trying to stay in the present with these things.

Cornelia said...

Hope she has been feeling well in the meantime...!