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German Shepherd Experiencing Separation Anxiety

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by melissa4545, Jun 13, 2018.


  1. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone! I'm new here!
    I came here seeking advice because I have a 12 year old German Shepherd named Daphne who has, with age, become a bit of an anxious dog. We took her to the vet today since we were worried about her panting, and the doctor said it was due to her being anxious.
    She's never liked fireworks or thunderstorms, always pacing and can't stay still when these things occur. She has prescribed tranquilizers that we give her to calm her down, but I hate to see her so out of it and sleepy. With her age, she can't have an entire pill because even half causes her to stumble around.
    However, that's not entirely the issue. My family and I are going on a two week long trip to Europe this coming fall, and she does not do well when we leave. She's very good for our family members who watch her, but she gets so upset and anxious she has diarrhea all over the house. This has started to occur since she's gotten older, and as much as I want to enjoy the vacation, the past 3 we've received calls saying she's had accidents all over the house. I don't want to be stressed this vacation, and I most definitely don't want Daphne to be stressed either. Does anyone have any ideas or advice on how to handle this? Or is this how it's going to be? This is the longest we've been away from her so I don't want her to be feeling anxious and sick the entire time, and I would like to enjoy my vacation of course.
    She's a very smart dog so she knows what the suitcases mean, and I hate to leave her when she's feeling so anxious.
    Any help I could get would be great, thank you!
     
  2. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    I think you have a number of issues going on here - yes, some dogs do become a little more anxious as they get older which is likely to be due to a gradual decline in cognitive function causing the dog to get a little confused. And yes, they will pant when they are anxious (although I presume your Vet did a thorough check as panting can mean a number of things).

    Prescribing tranquilizers straight away seems pretty drastic in my opinion - there are a number of herbal calmatives that I would have tried first (that won't leave your dog more confused and out of it than before) and there are tablets that aid cognitive disfunction in elderly dogs, too. Perhaps look into that as well.

    In regard to your holiday - with elderly dogs it's as much about management as anything and you need to have a plan ready. If you have family that are going to house sit her then set up a routine with them. For example, when they can't watch her or have to leave her, I would look to contain her in an area where she can't 'mess all over the house' and where she is happy and comfortable. I would ensure her routine stays pretty regular with walks and playtime and add a few more toilet breaks just to make sure. I would ensure that they understand that toilet accidents may happen so that they do not get stressed with her (which will make her more anxious).

    And try not to show her your suitcases/packing etc as this is a massive trigger to many dogs and they start to get anxious long before we go.

    I hope she settles. Elderly dogs need extra care.

    J
     
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  3. foxiesummer

    foxiesummer PetForums VIP

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    Is she being 'cared for' in her own home with relatives visiting occasionally or in the family members house.
     
  4. Westie Mum

    Westie Mum PetForums VIP

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    I would hope the dogs not left with someone just visiting occasionally. My neighbours do that with their dog and he literally howls and cries for the entire week :(
     
  5. Westie Mum

    Westie Mum PetForums VIP

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    I have an oldie that has developed separation anxiety in her old age when she’s been perfectly fine for her whole life. It’s been a bit of trial and error trying different things to get her to the point where she’s not stressed when left.

    She is on Aktivait anyway to boost her cognitive function and then we added a DAP diffuser to the lounge (the room she spends most of her time) she also has Dorwest Scullcap & Valerian tablets twice a day and Bach Rescue Remedy morning and dinner time .... that combination works for her.

    With the help of our vet, we have also tried Yucalm, Zylkene, Serene-um & Kalm-aid But none of those worked for her. Different things work with different dogs.

    We and our vet, wanted to try every possible option before resorting to sedative type meds because we wanted Lucy to still be Lucy, not a spaced out version of herself.

    If you aren’t going away till the autumn you have plenty of time to try different things to see what works and then as @Jamesgoeswalkies suggests, just make the person looking after her knows that accidents are likely and they shouldn’t make a fuss and leave plenty of instructions and things to clean up with.
     
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  6. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    Frankly, I wouldn’t be leaving this dog so I could go on holiday, as she clearly needs constant care by someone she knows very well.

    Perhaps it would be kinder to put her to sleep now as her quality of life sounds poor?
     
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  7. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    She’ll be staying at our house while a family member comes over. They usually stay the night with her and the other animals.
     
  8. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    Uh, I’m not going to put down a healthy dog who has no other problems other than a bit of anxiety. I understand your point of view of not wanting to leave her, but I can’t put my life on hold. She doesn’t need “constant care” she just gets upset when we’re not home during these vacations, so I’m trying to make that better for her. The only thing wrong is she gets anxiety when we leave on long trips, I’m not going to put her down because of that. Her quality of life is not poor at all, she is a happy and healthy dog. The answer isn’t always “put them down” when there seems to be a small problem. I hope that’s not how you view it when your animals have a small problem.
     
  9. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    Yes, the person watching her is a family member so they’re very aware of the issue of accidents. I don’t want it to seem like we give her a pill every time she’s anxious, we give it to her around Fourth of July to calm her nerves and that’s about it. And she’s relatively chill other than the occasional thunderstorms and the fireworks. We have to be careful with pills because she’s always been sensitive to those, but I’m definitely going to look into getting a diffuser that may help with her being calm. Thank you for your help!!
     
  10. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    Yes, the vet checked to make sure it wasn’t anything else before saying it was anxiety. My mother has worked with this vet for 14 years so we trust his judgement.

    We do not give her these sleeping pills all the time, it’s usually only during the Fourth of July so she can be calmer through it. We don’t hand them out to her haha.

    I definitely like your idea of hiding the suitcases, which I could definitely manage to do! I will be looking into the herbal supplements that could possibly help her! Thanks so much for your help, I really appreciate it!
     
  11. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    Oh goodness, no! She’s going to be left with someone she knows well. That’s so sad they leave their dog like that :(
     
  12. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I responded based on how I read your post.
     
  13. Bebe1

    Bebe1 PetForums Member

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    I dont think Im going to be very popular saying this:( but I wouldnt even be going on holiday and leaving her. Surely a holiday can wait until you dont have a dog? I didnt holiday for over 20 years due to not wanting to leave my dogs, and they didnt even suffer like your girl does. Ive had one holiday since, in the brief time of being without a dog. Ive now got a dog with severe separation anxiety and my life is really limited due to that, but hes my dog, he didnt ask to feel distressed when left, and Im prepared to sacrifice doing stuff because, well, thats what you have to do sometimes.

    If your girl is so distressed that shes messing all over the house the entire time your gone, I wouldnt go. Not in a million years. Im sorry if that sounds harsh or upsets you, I dont mean to, but personally, I wouldnt be leaving her like that :(
     
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  14. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    I understand that, but the first answer shouldn't be "put your dog down because she's anxious". That's her only issue at times when, like I said, there are fireworks which happen once a year, and occasional thunderstorms and when we vacation which doesn't happen all that often. You don't put a human down just because they're anxious, you find a way to help them. That's what I'm trying to do here, seek help, and you're telling me to just simply put her down because she gets anxious at times. Who in the right minds would put down a healthy dog who has a few issues that won't take away from their quality of life. She's happy and she's healthy. Again, I hope that's not your answer to any issue an animal has. Our cat had a life threatening injury but instead of putting her down, we got her to the vet where she recovered and has resumed a great life. You don't just put an animal down because they're anxious at times.
     
  15. melissa4545

    melissa4545 PetForums Newbie

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    I completely understand where you're coming from and I respect your point of view. However, we don't want to put our lives on hold, and she really doesn't require us to. I understand that you have to make sacrifices, but we do a lot for her and this is more than just a vacation. We've made sacrifices these past two years such as leaving one of us behind so she has someone in the immediate family to take care of her, someone who's with her every day. This will be the first trip we've made in a long time where it's all of us going. The trip is happening, as harsh as it may sound, so I want to find ways to make her more comfortable with us gone. The thing is, she acts perfectly normal, she greets the family member and is happy to see them, she doesn't mope around or anything along those lines; basically what I'm saying is, she's still happy, she misses us and it causes her to get a bit sick. She still eats and sleeps fine, but the only problem is her getting sick.
     
  16. Bebe1

    Bebe1 PetForums Member

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    Ok. :(.
    I dont know how you can say "she doesnt require you to put your life on hold" though. She doesnt have a choice really.
    Im not going to fall out with you and like you said, the holiday is going to happen anyway, I just know that if the "only problem" with leaving my dog so I could go on holiday was that he "got sick" , I wouldnt be going. Its reason enough in my eyes.
    Shes not a young dog and without sounding morbid, likely doesnt have many years left, so in my mind waiting a while to go on holiday would be kinder. I wouldnt enjoy a holiday knowing my elderly dog was sick and suffering because I had gone.

    I guess we just look at things differently.
     
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  17. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    No need for you to be concerned about my animals, their needs have always been top of the list in my house. My dog comes on holiday with us too.

    Anyhoo, I’m out.
     
    Bebe1 likes this.
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