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My soon to be 9 yr old male basset Roscoe has always been prone to panic attacks during thunder storms, then it progressed to wind and rain and in the last 2 months it now just has to be dark. I have taken him to the vets and he is currently on Paxil (puppy prozac) daily and Xanax when it gets real bad. The vet is hoping to break his panic cycle and then start weaning him off the drugs, has anyone else experienced this? Some weeks I feel it is hopeless and then we have a night or two when we all sleep and I start getting hopeful that it can be corrected. I would like to hear from anyone who has been through this or even heard of it in Bassets.

Thanks
Kelly
 

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Hi, Kelly, it's unlikely that just the meds alone will cure the problem. Meds are usually combined with a program of behavior modification when working with fears and phobias. Has Roscoe been evaluated by a behaviorist? Toughy has posted several excellent links on finding a behaviorist on this thread on the General Forum.

Here are some discussions of sound fears and phobias.

Canine Noise Phobias
Noise Phobia in Canines
A Case of July 4th Sound Phobia
 

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Given the age of the dog has Hypothyroidism and/or CDS been ruled out as undelying and/or contributing cause for the behavior?

BEHAVIORAL CHANGES ASSOCIATED WITH THYROID DYSFUNCTION IN DOGS

*The major categories of aberrant behavior were:  aggression (40% of cases), seizures (30%), fearfulness (9%), and hyperactivity (7%); some dogs exhibited more than 1 of these behaviors.

*Thyroid dysfunction was found in 62% of the aggressive dogs, 77% of seizuring dogs, 47% of fearful dogs, and 31% of hyperactive dogs.
canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome

As Betsy points out medication alone is rarely effective in curing phobia's unless there is an underlying medical condition. The reason is the behavior related to the fear is self rewarding. The dog is afraid. It hides in the corner trembling. The storm ends, voila the fear reaction is rewarded by the storm ending. Therefore phobia only get worse as the dog gets older without some sort of behavior mdification program. The only way to end the cycle is through active desenitizing.

FWIW Most dogs that I have met with thunderstorm phobias are not noise sensitive. Other load noises do not bother them and the fear of the storm is manafested long before the first crack of thunder or the wind picks up. Some speculate that it is the change in the ionization of the atmosphere they are sensitive to, but anyway it doesn.t realy matter. It just makes desensitizing to storms difficult/impossible because the trigger can not be replicated at a non-threatening level.

[ August 29, 2003, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: Toughynutter ]
 

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Dr. Nicholas Dodman, veterinary behaviorist at Tufts Veterinary School, talks in one of his books about thunderstorm phobia. He's had minimal sucess treating this condition but did have results with the use of an SSRI, like Paxil or Prozac and rubbing the dog with dryer sheets. Don't recall all the details. The book I believe was "The Dog Who Loved Too Much" or something like that.

As Betsy suggests, medications are usually used in conjunction with a behavior plan to treat phobias and other OCD disorders so your vet probably might recommend a behaviorist.

Keep us posted.
 

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Wow Toughy! 47% of fearful dogs had thyroid dysfunction?! That's a pretty impressively high number!!
 

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Out-of-range results on a thyroid panel don't equal "thyroid dysfunction". Thyroid panels in dogs are somewhat problematic to interpret. One needs to look at the combination of findings on the panel AND their correlation with the clinical history and presentation.
 
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