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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 33340
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Why is my dog restless,pacing and acting strangly

Customer Question

Why is my dog restless,pacing and acting strangly

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Peter replied 4 years ago.
Hello, I am Dr. Peter a licensed Veterinarian. I am happy to answer your question today. I need to ask you a few questions first to be well informed and give you the best advice. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I type out a thorough reply for you.

1- How long has this been going on?
2- Any pre existing medical conditions?
3- Any vomiting, diarrhea or coughing?
4- Are you seeing any abdominal swelling?
5- Can you take a look at his gums and see if they are pink or pale?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Started a couple of nights ago,then he was fine for a night then started up again last night.

No existing conditions.

Stools are between hard and slightly gooey.

No notable swelling.

Gums are pink.

Like I stated,he seems normal and at rest when we come in from work(night shifts so home about 3 am) Then,when we go to bed he starts up with the pacing etc. However,today he did look like he had been active and messing things around while we went out today for a couple of hours.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Relist: Answer came too late.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I would be suspicious of the sundowner's syndrome in a 15 year old dog. This defines pacing and agitation of patients with some degree of cognitive dysfunction (Altzheimer's, e.g.) and sensory deprivation which we think is magnified by the dark and quiet of night.

This can be a challenge to manage in dogs (and people). We've had most luck admnistering a benzodiazepine such as alprazolam (Xanax) at a dose of 0.025-0.1mg/kg as often as every 4-6 hours. Because brain tumor must be considered in our advanced geriatrics, conservative therapy may fail and profoundly sedating drugs such as phenobarbital might be necessary to control the behavior seen in sundowner's syndrome.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome seems to be what Rocky has the symptoms of. We have started him on Selgian (I think the UK version of Anaphyl or something like that) Also a natural product Zylkene administered at night with a little Melatonin. He at least sleeps through the night now (as do we thankfully)but as of yet,still hasn't stopped the pacing etc.

I assume the Selgian needs time to get into the system,is this correct? Have you used this product and seen any success?

We did try to keep him in a crate for his safety while we are at work,but he destroyed a metal cage bending it and losing 5 teeth in the process. I can't even bend the bars by hand so he obviously didn't care for this idea! Any other suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards.


Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Correct, Anthony. Sundowners is part of a cognitive dysfunction (senility, Altzheimer's) syndrome. The generic drug is selegiline which has failed in people and in dogs as well. The testing of this drug was a disgrace in my opinion. Selegiline increases dopamine concentrations in the brain, which restores dopamine levels and may improve cognitive ability. Unfortunately, there are no good clinical studies that support these claims.

I would still administer alprazolam in an attempt to stop his pacing but I admit that even that benzodiazepine will fail in a fair number of patients. Cognitive dysfunction is just as difficult to address in dogs as it is in people. Please continue our conversation if you wish.