To do … or not to do?

We have been gradually reducing the dosage of anxiety meds that Ray has been taking, and are now at the point where we must once again make the decision about whether to reduce him further … or not. This has been a very strategic and controlled exercise because he has been on anxiety meds from when he was in the shelter, and that was well over five years ago now.

It is apparently quite common for German Shepherds to be medicated in a shelter because they do not adapt to confined spaces very well. Their response in such confinement is often to totally lose their self-control which can result in serious self-inflicted injuries. Ray’s history was unknown, but he did display a fear of people and other dogs, so being forced to live in a very limited area; having no privacy; in a room where other dogs are also caged, and with people constantly walking past him (and probably stopping to look at him), he had to be medicated.

Up until now, Ray’s medication reduction program has been very successful and he is now very close to the end of his 6 weeks at 1 x 20mg/day. We do however have concerns.

While we have noticed many positive signs which we attribute to the lack of chemical interference in his thinking, we are now noticing other less exciting traits.

He is a little more active and vocal in separation situations – This has been expected as separation anxiety has been an ongoing issue however, the severity of his reactions are surprising. We have to factor in that Carol’s routines have been rather chaotic these past few weeks which could well be the catalyst.

He is more alert and reactive to infringements on his territory – He has always given us lots of warnings when somebody approaches our front door, but his sensitivity appears to have expanded to our driveway (which we share with a neighbor).Β  Given that we have foxes living in our area who have been seen using our driveway to access various gardens near us, it may not be the meds reduction at all.

He seems to be expecting more food – This could simply be a greater sensitivity to feelings of hunger however, he has never been (and still is not) a high energy dog. His weight has been stable in the 74-76lbs range and to increase his food without increasing his activity will produce predictable and undesirable results.

He seems reluctant to stray too far from home on his walks – His favorite stores are in our downtown area, which is a 15 – 20 minute walk (at Ray’s sniffing speed). He can be coaxed occasionally, but his reluctance to go there was a surprise given his history with us.

It would be so easy to attribute these changes to his med reduction, and it would be equally easy to explain them in other ways. Our priority must be Ray, and so to explain them in ways that are convenient to us would be irresponsible. I think thatΒ  our decision must be to hold him at the current dosage for another few weeks and monitor him carefully.

“What do you think Ray?”

31 thoughts on “To do … or not to do?

  1. It sounds to me like you are making the right decision. With other variables in the mix, like a change in working hours and coming/going, you can’t be sure what is causing the changes. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to making changes. There is no rush to decrease his meds further.

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  2. If he desires more food you might try frozen green beans. I use it when I need to reduce a dog’s weight. Just warm up to room temperature and add to food. If Ray decides he likes them a frozen green bean makes a great snack. The canned ones are not appetizing to dogs as they are mushy and too full of salt. Good work with Ray and reducing his medication in such a thoughtful manner.

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  3. I think you’re right to extend the period of his current dosage. It would be a shame to undo all the progress made so far just for a few more weeks. He’s such a lovable fella, and everything worthwhile takes time (imo). Hugs and treats by proxy as always. πŸ™‚

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  4. Benjamin says : “aww, he’s so cute!” Sometimes a wait and see attitude is the best plan. Ray’s welfare and well-being are the most important considerations, as you are well aware. I hope everything smooths out in the coming weeks. Ray is a treasure beyond measure! Thank-you for this update.

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  5. OH that face!! It just never gets old seeing pictures of handsome Ray. πŸ™‚
    Sorry that Ray is showing some reasons for concern. I think you guys are making the right decision in keeping his meds at the same dosage right now and seeing what happens.
    Whatever it takes to keep him feeling the best, for we all want a Happy Ray!

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    • Hi Michael. Alternate day dosage was discussed with his vet, and she recommended against it. The whole plan was therefore based on a reduction every 6 weeks in 10mg intervals. (He was originally on 1 x 40mg/day, and is currently down to 1 x 20mg/day). Whenever we think that he can be reduced to the next level, we discuss it with his vet first. I think that he will be staying at his current dosage for a few more weeks, so we can get a handle on what are circumstantial effects vs meds reduction effects. How I wish he could speak! πŸ™‚

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  6. I think slow, patient and cautious is the name of the game….especially when you’re dealing with medication. Clearly the ultimate goal isn’t no medication necessarily, it’s to get and keep Ray at the healthiest level possible.

    He may always have to take a lower dose to keep him on an even keel, but so what? Whatever floats his dog bowl!!

    He is a handsome boy, and clearly loves the camera!!
    πŸ”Ή Ginger πŸ”Ή

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  7. As I read this, I came to the same conclusion that you did (without knowing the dog or being a dog expert). Slow and steady wins the race. I swear you have the most photogenic dog around! Woofs to Ray!

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