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Rebecca
Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16001
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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We have four Labradors of different ages who in all respects

Customer Question

We have four Labradors of different ages who in all respects interact well together.
However our yellow 6 year old neutered male " Max" is showing extreme stress as soon as it becomes windy. At night he rips up his bedding and tries to nest and hide, even when we are with him. It is almost as though he is having a fit. The Vet can find no underlying medical explanation and it is getting worse as he ages. We have tried the usual tranquilizers and Adapil, also leaving a radio on in the room over night, to no avail.
Can any one help. Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
Hello,
I am sorry to hear about Max. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.
If the Adaptil does not help, you might try a new product made for dogs called Zylkene. It is based on milk proteins (but safe for lactose intolerant dogs) and has a calming effect.
What are the tranquilizers you tried? I would use something that has anti anxiety effects, such as clomipramine, or amitriptyline, if the Zylkene does not help. If those have been tried and did not work, I would then try Xanax (alpraxolam).
If you try these drugs, they work best when combined with training, but that is hard to do with wind phobia. Is it only at night when he shows these signs, or does it do it when you are out on a windy day?
If he does it during the day, you could try rewarding him for being calm right when the wind and his symptoms start (combined at first with one of the anti anxiety medications). The idea (easy to say; hard to do) is to teach him to associate positive things, like rewards, when the wind starts. You would do basic obedience like sit, stay, down, come, roll over, etc for treats to try to get his mind off the wind. This kind of "desensitization" along with anti anxiety meds can be helpful. It is best done with the help of a professional trainer, or a veterinarian who is a behavior specialist.
Let me know what else I can answer, or help with.
Rebecca
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Dear *****

He does not react when he is out walking.

It is when he is contained in the house. During the day I do confirm if he calms down. and let him know how good he is.

It is during the night he does the tearing.

We have not tried Xanax.

Thank you

Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
If you have not tried Xanax, or Zylkene, I would get one or both. You would give it on nights that wind is expected.
You can try combining it with the training, but it would be difficult if he only does it at night, but that is not practical if you are trying to sleep! Still, these problems can get worse with time, and eventually drugs alone do not help unless combined with training.
Have you tried working with a trainer, or a veterinarian who is a behavior specialist?
The idea is not just to confirm his being calm, but to teach him to associate the onset of the wind with something different, like some obedience work with treats. You want to retrain his brain so that when wind starts to blow instead of thinking "time to panic", he thinks "where is my master and those treats? Lets get to work earning some treats". Like I said, easier to say than to do, and best done with a guide/trainer/expert to show you how.
Training is always the best long term cure for behavior problems; drugs rarely work long term. If nothing teaches or rewards him to change his behavior, these problems tend to get worse. If there is a veterinarian who specializes in behavior in your area, that might be a good place to start.
Rebecca
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for your help.

Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
thank you for the good rating.
Good luck with Max.
Rebecca