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Scared dog

(17 Posts)
JohnCusacksWife Sat 04-Jul-15 17:19:32

We have a 15 yr old crossbreed boy whose behaviour is worrying us. He has always been slightly nervy but this seems to be escalating. He no longer sleeps in his bed at night but instead hides behind the laundry baskets where he is completely hidden. He's often hesitant to leave the house for his walk and spends much of his walk in extreme anxiety - pulling on the lead, panting, shaking, hunted look in his eye, tail clamped between his legs. If we allow him off lead when he's like this he hides in the undergrowth, under hedges etc. In the house he spends most of his time hiding in the smallest places he can find - under small tables, squashed in face first in the corner behind the sofa. It's distressing to see as he's clearly freaked out. There don't appear to be any triggers. He can be sitting quietly and then suddenly start and try to hide. He's pretty deaf now so I don't think he's hearing anything.

His physical health has deteriorated somewhat over the last 6 months or so - he's lost a bit of weight, hasn't got the stamina he once had and has had one seizure (although once it was over he seemed right as rain). He's seen the vet but nothing, other than general old age, has been diagnosed. He doesn't appear to be in pain and he stills eats like a horse.

Seeing him so distressed is upsetting and lying squashed in a corner isn't much of a life for him. My DH thinks it may be time to let him go but I'm struggling because physically he's still pretty robust for a dog of his age. Also the stress episodes are intermittent and there are periods where he's relaxed. So I'm struggling to make the decision.

Has anyone experienced anything similar? Or have any advice? I just feel paralysed by indecision...

nooka Sat 04-Jul-15 17:24:57

Have you tried anything like Feliway (sp) or perhaps diet changes? We had a special anti stress diet for our cats when they started to pee everywhere (another stress issue). Sounds very stressful for you. Our dog gets very anxious from time to time, but we know the triggers so it's easier to manage (for example we never have open fires anymore as they make him hide in the bathroom).

We also had a cat that went senile in old age, so agree that mental health can be a serious issue for pets.

slicedfinger Sat 04-Jul-15 17:27:53

The Feliway equivalent for dogs is an Adaptil collar. You can get them on Amazon much cheaper than vets or pets at home. Our highly anxious lurcher calms down noticeably about a day after we fit one. Our vet has also given us some herbal tablets to try, but I'm not sure about them yet.

Hexiegone Sat 04-Jul-15 17:34:44

How often is he like that? How do you respond to him when he does it?

Floralnomad Sat 04-Jul-15 18:14:08

Have you asked your vet for something like diazepam to see if that helps . My mum had a very anxious dog and he was on diazepam for several years - it really helped to chill him out .

JohnCusacksWife Sat 04-Jul-15 18:25:50

I'll check out the Adaptil collar, thanks.

Hexiegone, he's like this at points most days. Some days he seems particularly bad (perhaps hiding 75% of the time) and other days he'll be like that in the morning but come out of himself a bit more later in the day. When he's stressed we just leave him to himself and don't fuss over him.

ElectricDaisies Sat 04-Jul-15 19:29:12

Have his teeth been checked? Our dog has been a bit like that on and off for 4 weeks. Shaking and going into small spaces, hiding from the pain. He had a broken-off front tooth which the vet mentioned but did not think was causing distress. Several expensive tests later, all negative, the tooth was extracted with another vet saying it was clearly the cause of the pain and discomfort - worn down to the pulp and with exposed nerve endings. Happy that it's fixed, but very cross that we were strung along like that.

OttiliaVonBCup Sat 04-Jul-15 19:34:04

Could he be in pain?
He's quite old, there might be something bothering him, physically.

JohnCusacksWife Sat 04-Jul-15 20:56:25

I really don't think he's in pain. I've run my hands over him to test everywhere and he doesn't flinch at all. Plus he's eating well so I doubt it's his teeth. I wonder if its dementia related....that he doesn't really know where he is and so is confused and frightened. I just don't know what to do for the best. Given his age I'm loathe to put him through any invasive tests but at the same time I don't want to give up on him too soo. Feel like I can't see the woods for trees... sad

OttiliaVonBCup Sat 04-Jul-15 21:29:25

Could be just old age changes then.

I completely understand how you feel about invasive tests, I wouldn't inflict them on my dog as well.

OttiliaVonBCup Sat 04-Jul-15 21:30:50

Having said that my boy had a tooth taken out and he's been eating without problems.

Can you talk to a vet?

OttiliaVonBCup Sat 04-Jul-15 21:32:19

Sorry had been eating.
My point was we didn't notice because he was eating well.

ElectricDaisies Sat 04-Jul-15 22:01:07

Same here, our little fellow was eating fine until this week.

mistlethrush Sat 04-Jul-15 22:11:15

Can you make him a safe place to go (eg a crate with a blanket over to make a safe 'cave')? My lurcher has a thundershirt which helps her - although you wouldn't want to put him in it when it's hot (although ours had it on last night due to the thunder). Adaptil definitely worth trying - you don't even have to get the collar, you could get a bandana and put some of the liquid you get or spray and put it on that, or use the plug in near his safe place.

JohnCusacksWife Sun 05-Jul-15 15:02:56

Thanks all. Will try an Adaptil collar and ask the vet about his teeth.

LimeJellyHead Sun 05-Jul-15 20:07:05

I was thinking dementia, when I read your post. Is he doing anything else odd or different i.e. forgetting basic commands, forgetting house training, tongue sticking out, not getting fully in his bed, lack of spacial awareness, thinking everyone has gone out if he finds himself alone, acting differently to games or other dogs, pacing more, disturbed by own reflection, difficulty settling, more startling episodes, startling when touched, facing walls or away from everyone, easily getting stuck in corners etc... ?

Our 15 year old terrier has dementia and those are some of the things he does.

LimeJellyHead Sun 05-Jul-15 20:08:40

For fear and startling, we got our Berkeley an anxiety wrap www.dfordog.co.uk/dog-anxiety-vest-wrap.html His sister, Darcey, uses it for fireworks night. Berkeley wears it if he is having a particularly jumpy day or evening.

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