Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Vans, Oh My!

I really am sad to say that Katie has full blown anxiety about riding in vehicles. The new van has a well established pattern at this point. We thought she was doing well riding in Stephen's car, but recently started to show similar signs of anxiousness.

As soon as the vehicle (especially our new van) begins to move, she begins panting, shaking, and refuses food. I wish I knew what she is afraid of. Does it produce an uncomfortable sound (I'm thinking no, now that she has showing problems with other vehicles)? Do the bumps in the road scare her? What is it? What makes a 10 year old greyhound suddenly fear her second home? The van used to be a means to all the fun stuff we do, a safe place to rest, and a comfortable way to travel.

I have tried placing her in a big crate, a small crate, and in different locations in the van. I have tried letting her ride loose. I have tried giving special treats and stuffed Kongs during the ride, but she will not touch them until the ride is over. I have tried giving her an herbal supplement with calming properties to no avail.

Katie's first thyroid test was slightly low, but a second test result came back as not low thyroid. The vet humored me and let me try treating her for low thyroid anyway, but it had no effect. She has had acupuncture again and appears to be free of any pain or physical problems.

I never thought I would leave her behind, but I have started to. I try to pick her trips wisely. Minimize the drive time and maximize the exercise, play, and work time. Stephen has been great about taking her hiking with his greyhounds which is a short drive away. I never thought she would stand for me to leave her behind, but she almost appears relieved as I walk out the door without her now.


Maria Peters said...

Awww. It's gotta' be hard to leave her behind...June looks relieved too when I don't pursue her after she runs up the stairs after she hears the leashes. I miss her, but it is nice to just drive/walk without the drama.
Very cute picture of Katie!

Sarah said...

My elderly rescue Weim has had pretty significant vehicle anxiety for the two years I've had him - only settling down once we're moving at speed on the freeway, but barking, whining, and moving about until then. I recently tried popping him a Xanax (prescribed for another of my dogs) and it was perfect! It took the edge off him in the car, but he didn't seem woozy or out of it once we arrived at our destination for a walk in the woods.

I'm not a fan of over-medication, and don't take him places so often that I'd be shoving Xanax down his throat every day, but for the occasional car trip this has really proven helpful. Plus, he's just so happy to get out and go places with me!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen
I was asking another vet type person about Katie and they said their first thought would be car sickness. Maybe your initial thought of it being tied to the FCE incident and resultant neurologically unsteadiness correlates to her getting car sick now. Does she ever vomit after or during a car ride? You can easily try over the counter dramamine an hour before the trip and see if that helps.
My thought though is something like Clomicalm could be tried. I assume she isn't showing any other neurological signs-just her rear leg weakness and phobia(or something) attacks?
Helen Hamilton

BrittBeah said...

That is heart breaking :(

Tarmar said...

I had a similar issue with my old dog, Tigger. He would always pant a lot in the car but he loved to go and the car was his second home too. As he got older he started to act like he didn't want to go. Eventually, he would literally poop every time he got in the van. He would wait for me to start driving before doing this and he did it regardless of whether he had pooped right before getting in the van. I took the hint and he became a home body. Frankly, I think it was the way he wanted it. Interestingly, he did not poop in the van on his final trip to the vet. I wonder if this is common for old dogs? Tigger was my first greyhound and he lived to be almost 15.

Zan said...

This makes me so sad for Katie. Is very frustrating to know that she is afraid, but not be able to figure out the cause.

KF-in-Georgia said...

Sam pants and drools in the car--even before I start the engine. But he hates to be left behind, so he's got to figure out which he hates most: the car or being left alone.

One day I had Sam and Jacey at work with me for baths. At lunch, I took the dogs with me and went to sit in the car to eat. Sam panted the whole 30 minutes we sat there.

But I'm thinking I ought to try that some more at home: sit in the car with both dogs--at least on my days off--and let Sam figure out that he's fine. It might work.

(He has been carsick--two times. These days, I tend to postpone breakfast for both dogs until after we get where we're going.)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Katie is going to start Clomicalm (anti-anxiety drug). If that does not work, I think I will take Sarah's suggestion about Xanax for those long, unavoidable rides. I had been wondering about Xanax, so thank you for telling me your experience. I think she is probably going to end up a home body like Tamar's Tigger though. I took her to the training building tonight (10 minute drive) and I didn't get a good vibe from her. Her sit seemed uncomfortable and I didn't get the impression she was having a great time.


Ridlon Tails said...

How heart breaking that will be if you have to leave her behind. =( Unfortunately, I do not have any advice for you. I have been very lucky. All of my pups have enjoy riding in the car.

Best of luck!!

KF-in-Georgia said...

I wonder if she's reluctant to ride in the car because she knows she hasn't got all the agility and coordination she used to have. Maybe she's just worried that she can't handle the weight-shifts and turns and stuff she used to take with ease--if not with enjoyment.

Katie said...

I was wondering about car sickness, too.

My old dog did really well on Clomicalm for his noise anxiety issues. He took Xanax on top of it for thunderstorms. It took a bit to get the Xanax dose figured out (too little and it didn't help, too much and he was drunk) but once we did, it was so much better.

It's hard seeing your dog struggle and feeling like you can't help. I was grateful that drugs were an option for him because they made his life so much better.

Coty said...

I'm still pushing for the herbal route - the Calms, or Calms Forte by Hylands. Try a larger dosage, maybe one whole pill. Try it, when you won't be going anywhere so you can observe her. Really - Susie (the non-Grey) can 'almost' tolerate thunderstorms with Calms. And it helped my panic attacks, I don't even use them anymore, even if I have to speak with the Big Dogs (AF Colonels).

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Coty, I wish we were getting the same results. We are experimenting with Clomicalm right now. The nice thing about the Clomicalm (if it works) is that it should keep her at a nice even level. That way she would be able to return to all of her comings and goings. I don't always have time to allow something to take effect before leaving. With Clomicalm, its always in the system. Plus sometimes we are gone all day... so again the Clomicalm taken twice a day everyday might allow her to go back to that. I do appreciate you giving me the Hylands to try though.


Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Poor you and Katie, I know it's hard when things change and you have no idea why. I'd have to agree with KF, she's not as stable as she used to be and she probably gets nervous about it. I've seen the same thing in Lester- he used to spook at nothing and now he spooks at nothing. I've thought for years that he's put himself in a high alert status because he doesn't feel like he used to and it worries him to some degree.
I hope the calming herbs start working.

greytblackdog said...

Jen, fingers crossed for the Clomicalm. I'm with you that it is in her system all the time and will hopefully allow her to return to her usual pace of life.

I wonder if it some of balance issues might be making her sick to her stomach in the car as well. It would make sense if your equaliburium is off, you could become a tad bit sick, even if you don't actually vomit. If she is still anxious in the car, try papaya tabs (they are like $2 at walgreens) and the enzymes will settle the stomach acid in her tummy. It helps Roxy on our trips.

Oh, and thanks to Coty for the rec about the Calms. I may try it for Roxy who is still anxious in the car.