The Stigma of Doggy Drugs

When people hear that Vito is on drugs they're usually pretty shocked.  Mainly because Vito's worse anxieties are typically hidden from public view, unless you're lucky enough to work with me!  But secondly because most people either aren't aware that dog's can benefit from the same drugs as people or worse they think drugs are an easy way out.  Almost always our conversation includes questions on whether or not I've tried this or that natural remedy or healing technique.  While people are well meaning, regardless of my answers to their questions it means I'm on the defensive side of my choice.

Happy?  Or stressing up into a frantic nutcase?

Natural and holistic treatments can help many dogs.  They can help take the edge off for both people and dogs in certain circumstances.  Vito has complete panic attacks at least once a day, if not more, on the average week day.  I often have to choose between the lesser of his anxieties when it comes to leaving him alone, taking him with, or changing a routine.  For dogs like Vito, flower essences, DAP, chiropractic, and thunder shirts are usually not going to do a thing to correct a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Exercise is great, but increasing it is also not a magical answer and in Vito's case the adrenaline can actually make his anxieties worse.  Turning to drugs is not an easy decision but I don't think it even has to be a last resort.  If my dogs get sick I'm going to try and treat them with all of the resources available.  Let's have the same respect towards the brain as we would for a broken foot or a diabetes.

So please, stop with the helpful advice on what supplement your friend should try unless you're asked.  Chances are she's already exhausted a long list of things and has for too long seen drugs as a last resort.  I know that I saw it that way and still hate that I feel defensive about my choice even without the help from others.  Hopefully someday we will get that magical combination of drugs that will restore balance to Vito's brain and stop his panic attacks.

Better posts on this topic:
Myth: Anxiety Medication Should Only Be Used as a Last Resort
Meds and Your Dogs, Part 1

K-Koira  – ( May 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM )  

Unfortunately, people act like this with people with anxiety problems as well, including comments like "don't let them put you on some kind of drug" as if it would be the worst thing in the world. Some people, and some dogs, function way better with medication. It can be a life changer, make life easier and more enjoyable. And people need to stop with the judgement. Just because you were able to fix your anxiety/your dog's anxiety with flower essences, that doesn't mean they will magically fix all anxiety.

If you can't tell, kind of a trigger subject for me as well.

Amy / Layla the Malamute  – ( May 15, 2014 at 4:19 PM )  

People just don't get it.

Even as the commenter above me says, people act the same toward other people on medication. I was diagnosed with insomnia when I was 12. I need to take a sleeping pill to sleep and even that doesn't always work. So when people say, "Have you tried melatonin? Have you tried Benadryl? A nice glass of wine usually works," It's really annoying. Obviously if it were that easy id have done it - same for you and Vito! Thank god the chemical option is there if needed for people/dogs like us.

Anonymous  –   – ( May 16, 2014 at 8:14 AM )  

Yes here too! My dog was fear aggressive, stressed up, inappropriately redirected any frustration. Four years of training, management, education, and lamenting how my dog can be sooooo joyful sometimes and soooo fearful and unhappy at others. Finally swam through the stigmata and tried what I then though of as "the chemical solution," and basically a cop out, but I was tired. It felt like giving up.

Since we got the right drug, my dog has never been so happy, confident, and comfortable in her own skin. She is free to love people, have fun, and make choices based on likes and dislikes, vs reactions to fear and frustration. I wish I hadn't waited so long. All the training and counter conditioning (which did help a lot), could have been so much easier on her.

Thanks for writing!

Melissa Kay  – ( May 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM )  

Great post! My pup (also a Tolelr) is on
Fluoxetine for her reactivity issues and it has done us a world of good. And some of the looks I get when people find out startle me. Why WOULDNT I try to help my dog as much as I could? People who don't deal with it have no idea of how the dog's life, and your life are affected. Just like I don't understand my agoraphobic friend - but I dont ridicule her and look at her weird, I applaud her for trying a new drug to help.

achieve1dream  – ( June 9, 2014 at 8:04 PM )  

I have anxiety and even have panic attacks, so I can't even imagine what poor Vito's life would be like without meds. Just the thought of daily panic attacks makes me sick to my stomach. I'm glad there are medications available to dogs to help them out. I hope you find the perfect combination for him.

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