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Dr. Susan
Dr. Susan, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6785
Experience:  8 years of clinical experience with specialty in veterinary pain management, urology, and geriatrics
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My chihuahua (18 months young) had luxating patella and had

Resolved Question:

My chihuahua (18 months young) had luxating patella and had surgery on both legs (one leg at the time), she was out of action for at least 6 months at a crucial time when she should've been socialised. Before surgery she was quite a happy dog and she was always active. Now she is very anxious and nervous all time when we go out for a walk, everything scares her, from people to other dogs, even when we go to the local park where she knows the dogs and people. She won't play, sometimes she just stands still refusing to move and have to pick her up. She needs her exercise as she is a bit overweight (although she is on a diet too). She just seems depressed. What advise can you give me?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Susan replied 2 years ago.
Dr. Susan :

Hi, I can help you with your question today.

Dr. Susan :

I totally understand that you don't want your dog to be dependent on drugs, but they can be a useful tool for us in the short term while we make her more comfortable socializing.

Dr. Susan :

What medications has your vet tried so far?

Customer:

I can't remember

Dr. Susan :

Do these sound familiar? Alprazolam (Xanax) or fluoxetine (Prozac)?

Customer:

I think it was Xanax...I felt it didn't do her any good

Dr. Susan :

I see. As I said a bit earlier, I do think it would be worthwhile to try to find something that will help her even for a short while until we can make her feel safe interacting with other people and animals.

Dr. Susan :

I would like to try the fluoxetine. It can take several weeks to build up in her system.

Dr. Susan :

After she has been on it for a while, we should start slowly.

Dr. Susan :

I don't want her in situations that are overwhelming to the point that she freezes up.

Dr. Susan :

I would start with one or just a couple people coming to the house or yard to interact with her.

Dr. Susan :

All interactions should be positive, using lots of praise and treats.

Dr. Susan :

She should be allowed to approach people on her own terms, without being forced.

Dr. Susan :

You can also help her with her confidence by working on training at home. Teaching and reinforcing commands like sit, down and stay can help her focus on something she feels very comfortable and confident doing.

Dr. Susan :

You can use these when she is out walking with you to give her a sense of familiarity and control.

Customer:

She is cool with people coming over to the house, she is not anxious when she is at home. I do training everyday when we play. It is when we go out that she becomes frightened.

Dr. Susan :

Good, it sounds like you are already taking steps in the right direction.

Dr. Susan :

I think the fluoxetine would be beneficial in her situation.

Dr. Susan :

I think the next step in training with be short outings - not to the park yet - where you set her up for success.

Dr. Susan :

Plan to meet a neighbor or friendly dog along her walk, and let her interact with them using praise and treats again.

Dr. Susan :

Some of the noises and park environment can be overwhelming, and we need to build her up to that.

Customer:

It's hard, she just seems depressed...and it's heartbreaking to see that she doesn't enjoy her walks. I'll make an appointment with the vet and try the fluoxetine (Prozac) and see if that helps...

Dr. Susan :

I know what you mean. You love her so much, you just want her to be happy and enjoy life!

Dr. Susan :

I hope that the medication will be helpful. You can also ask your vet to refer you to a local behaviorist. I do recommend board certified veterinary behaviorists - they can be miracle workers! If you have more questions or if I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to ask! If you would like to accept my answer, please press RATE OUR CONVERSATION.


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Customer:

I'll have a look into veterinary behaviorists and ask my vet. Thanks, ***** ***** I have enough to have a look at and try out. Thanks.

Dr. Susan, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6785
Experience: 8 years of clinical experience with specialty in veterinary pain management, urology, and geriatrics
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