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Soph the Vet (or anyone) about separation anxiety in dogs

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My cute little dog does not normally have separation anxiety. He's normally very calm, and spends most of the day sleeping belly up with his feet sticking straight up in the air. He's as calm as a bear rug! Honestly, most of the time, he could pass for dead!


Normally, when we leave the house, he doesn't even notice. When we come home, he greets us happily, but calmly.


We don't usually crate him, but when we do, he sleeps like a rock.


But when we travel, he has severe separation anxiety. If we have to leave to leave him crated in the car for a half hour while we get a bite to eat, or crated at grandma's house while we go to church, or crated in the hotel room while we go out; he goes nuts. He barks and barks and barks. As best I know, he will do this for a long time. Hours. Until we get back. (We put his favorite chewy things in the crate along with blankets from home, food, and water. None of these things help.)


When we come back to him, his heart is racing(!), and he is desperate to be with the whole "pack."


This only happens a few times a year, so there is little training opportunity.


The vet prescribed Clomicalm (clomipramine hydrochloride). We tried it for the first time this week (we're at Grandma's), and it seems to have no effect on his anxiety.


Is there another drug we should try? Is it safe to try a higher dose? (Yes, I realize I need to ask the vet who prescribed it, and I will when we get home.)


Any other ideas?


ETA: Since I wrote this, I just read an article on using medication for separation anxiety, and it said you might have to use it daily for weeks to see a difference. We're only using it the day dd (dear dog) will have to stay alone at Grandma's. Is that our mistake? Should we use this daily a week (or 2 or 3) before we travel?


Oh, and another thing I want to try on our next trip is one of those bark-stopping devices, where when they bark they hear a high pitched noise. This almost seems counter-productive, though, because if the dog is already anxious and he's getting this negative feedback, is he likely to get more anxious and exhibit a more-destructive behavior? Like I said, I have no ability to test this at home.

Edited by Cindyg
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In addition to any other things you may try, I'd make sure he got a good walk before getting him settled in the crate. A tired dog is usually a lot calmer.


I'd also practice with the crate at home a good deal.


When traveling with our dogs, we never leave them at a hotel alone, although they would probably be calm and just sleep. I would be afraid of them getting stolen. They are good in the car if we go to a restaurant (usually only at night so they wouldn't get overheated). Traveling is a challenge with dogs.



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Hi Cindy,

I think you answered your own question somewhat.:001_smile: Yes, use Clomicalm for a few weeks before traveling. Other things you can use are Valerian Root and Alprazolam. Alprazolam is a more temporary fix for travel as it is a controlled substance in the Valium family. Ask your vet about both of these. There are also tricyclic antidepressants available but often cost prohibitive for most owners. Behavioral therapy is something else to consider, like reconditioning your dog. It is time consuming but often rewarding for some dogs.


BTW, I just saw this post. You can always PM me or go to the "Ask the Vet" group which I check daily.

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Cindy, our neighbors' dog does will with alprazolam (generic Xanax); it's extremely inexpensive which is a plus. It would not be a med to put the dog on long-term, but something to use an hour or so before you leave, just to take the edge off the anxiety.


Another thought - is there any way you could leave the dog at home and have someone come in twice daily to care for him? We found this to be the best option when our older lab began to stress like this.



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