I have been writing articles for this pet column in The Lima News for quite a few years. It is very common for pet owners and other people I know to comment on them, but I have never had a response as big as I got after I wrote about my daughter’s dog, “Brantley”. I not only had more people I know comment on that article than other articles, but I had several people I didn’t even know recognize me from my picture in the newspaper and comment on the article. If you missed the first article, you can find it by searching The Lima News website or it is in the blog section at amandaah.com.
“Brantley” is a young Labradoodle that was trained well in every way except for issues with separation anxiety when he was kept in his crate while my daughter was at work all day. She would come home and the entire bottom of his cage would be covered in saliva. Every once in a while he would also have issues with stress related diarrhea while in his cage. After trying multiple things, we thought we were on the right track as of the date I wrote the last article, but after that he had some setbacks and it didn’t seem like “Brantley” was really improving any further.
We decided to try to see how he would do not confined to his cage while she was gone. He was about 8 months old and really seemed well trained in every other way. It started with short periods of time while running a few errands. He did really well! There were no potty accidents and nothing was chewed up! Finally, he was left out for the whole day while she was at work. He was still on his medicines, but he really seemed to do very well-for a while. Within a couple weeks he started finding things to chew on and pretty quickly it progressed to chewing on the blinds to the patio door. She tried to limit things he could get into, but he kept finding things anyway. It didn’t seem it was due to anxiousness. It seemed more due to boredom and looking for things to do while home alone.
We decided he just had to go back into crate while she was at work, before he damaged something really expensive in the apartment or ate something that hurt him. Going back into the cage after enjoying his freedom for a few weeks didn’t really go very well. Although he was still on his medicine, he seemed to actually be getting worse. We decided we just needed to get him away from having to be crated for 9 hours a day for a while. We needed everything to settle down and possibly try different medications to help him adjust to being back in the crate. We decided to keep him at our house for a few weeks. Although he would need to be in a crate with us, it would only be for several hours at a time.
After consulting with a veterinarian who specializes in behavior, I decided to start him on a different antidepressant called Clomicalm to be given every day and an additional antidepressant called Trazodone to be given only on days that he would be in his crate. This combination of medicines made an immediate difference while he stayed with us. He had very little slobbering while in his crate. He seemed a little calmer overall, but he still was very playful and acted like his normal, goofy self. He did really well at our house and we ended up keeping him almost 3 weeks.
After going back to our daughter’s apartment, he continued doing really well. There was an occasional rough day where there would be some excessive salivaton and/or stress diarrhea, but these episodes were very infrequent. She has also started taking him to doggy daycare in the middle of the week to break up the long days. As the weather gets nicer it stays light out later, she will spend a lot of time with him outside after work taking him to a dog park that is near her apartment to let him burn off some energy. In the next few months we will try to see how he does out of the cage again and start weaning him off his medications.
Chad Higgins, DVM has owned Amanda Animal Hospital for almost 18 years and sees dogs, cats, ferrets, and other little furry things.