I can cue "sad, puppy eyes" if only I could cue happy. Sigh.
Cue: "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "BOOM!" "CRASH!" and also brilliant flashes of lightening right outside our window.
Zoe immediately has a panic attack. Now I do count myself lucky that her panic attacks are mild compared to some other dogs. She will shiver, pace, whine and sometimes drool but not always. She's not jumping through the windows or destructive. She is still able to eat when she's upset, too but she can't focus on anything and asking her to do anything (sit, down, etc.) is impossible. She just can't function.
Lately she's been having a lot of general anxiety anyways. I figure it's because our move was stressful and then right after we moved in they did massive construction on our building and in the apartment above us, simultaneously. It was nonstop and went on for a couple of weeks. I honestly wish I had asked our vet for some good drugs for her while this was happening but it didn't really occur to me to do so at the time. Don't ask me why! I thought she might get used to it but I was kidding myself, this is Zoe. She didn't like the noise and would hang out in the bedroom but she wasn't in full panic. I always tell people there's fallout to everything and lately we've been living with that fallout. The neighbors can't walk across their floor (our ceiling) without Zoe leaving the room and not being happy.
I do my best to support her through it, any time she's afraid. So as soon as I heard the thunder I put her thundershirt on, although I haven't found it to be that helpful in the past. I also turned on some fans and her "Through A Dog's Ear" classical music and tried to make her as comfortable as possible. I also gave her some medication. I don't currently have any RX sedatives on hand but in the past I've found that benadryl slightly helps to chill her out. So she got a benadryl and I also decided to give her an herbal anxiety remedy called "valerian root". This was our first time trying it. I've been researching different herbal remedies for a while. I'm not a huge believer in them but I figured it was worth a shot.
Usually when Zoe has a panic attack it's because of fireworks. It can take her hours to calm down, sometimes an entire night. We usually have to crate her to stop her from pacing. This time I sat with her for a while, she decided that the bathroom was a safe place but then after a little bit she didn't like it in there so I crated her in the bedroom with her calming music and fans and let her be. Comforting her does not seem to help even though I feel like I should be doing something to make her feel better. I feel awful for her and I wish there was some way for me to tell her that she's safe.
Around 10:30-11pm the thunderstorms went on their way to terrorize some other part of the Pacific Northwest and it was calm again. It even stopped raining. By 12-12:30am Zoe was back to normal. I was able to take her out of the crate, walk her outside for potty time and when she came back in she even played with Phoenix. This has never happened, ever. Usually she's fine by the next morning but sometimes not. I don't know if it had anything to do with adding the valerian root or what but I was pretty happy she felt better and I'm definitely going to try it again next time. It really upsets me when she is so afraid.
This is just us, living the anxious life. I've been trying to counter condition and desensitize her to the noises but it's so hard to predict or set up! Sometimes I feel like this is just going to be our life and I feel really sad and kind of frustrated about it. I'd rather work with Phoenix with her dog aggression because she's easier to work with and is actually making progress. I'm beginning to consider a full time anxiety medication for Zoe and we are looking into our options. I will keep everyone updated with our progress and whatnot as we go.
Do you have a fearful dog? What do you do when they freak out?
Disclaimer: The author of ZoePhee is not a vet and not affiliated with any vets other than our own. Please do not give your dog something without thoroughly researching it and/or consulting with your vet.