Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sedating Isis

I took Isis to the vet last week to get a heart worm preventative pill, cus they have heart worm in Calif., but not here. She had some patches of dry skin on her legs, so I used that opportunity to ask the vet about them. He was very concerned and certain it was mange. (This was not my usual vet, and I will be requesting someone else in the future.)

He took several scrapings, couldn't find mange, took several more, still couldn't find mange, then said it looked just like mange, and still could be mange, but this kind of mange sometimes cures itself, so maybe she had mange, but is better now.

Later, I discovered in my Dog Bible that the not-contagious form of mange is very hard to find under the microscope, no matter how many scrapings you take. Her sores from the scrapings have gotten better, and I haven't seen her chew on her legs lately, so I'm unconcerned about mange.

However. The vet said that if it wasn't mange, it could be nervousness and I could give her an anti-anxiety med. Wondering if this magic pill could resolve some of her other issues, I took home a bottle, and then decided not to give it to her.

We resisted the homeopathic sedative recommended by her trainer, figuring she's a puppy and she's not that hyper. She's mellowed out considerably at doggie class and has become quite trainable.

Drugs for dogs should be a last resort. She's not such a problem child that she needs medication. I just have to make sure she gets enough exercise/stimulation that she doesn't nervously chew her legs. Or chase her tail. Or bark at me while I try to watch TV. Or lunge at the submissive poodle in dog class. Still, those are normal dog behaviors, no?

The last couple of days, though, she's had moments where she looked anxious to me. Am I projecting? She's whining more than usual and when I sit her down and tell her to chill out, she looks back with anxiety in her eyes.

She's bumped up the time she wants breakfast from 6:30 to 5:30, and while I made the concession from 7 a.m. to 6:30, I will not feed her before 6 a.m. She whines and barks and makes it impossible to sleep til 7. Last night she pretty well went nuts while Rob worked out in the garage.

But what finally pushed me over the edge and made me put the first pill in her mouth was that she tore apart the bed while I was in the shower. Tore. Apart. Ripped the sheets apart and even made a tear in the memory foam underneath.

I felt guilty afterward. Am I really going to do this? Medicate my dog, rather than give her the boundaries, rules and limitations the Dog Whisperer has taught me so much about?

While I tossed the soccer ball to Isis a few times, I came up with the following rationalization:

  • I am only giving her the meds to get her through this little phase. I am not abandoning her training and exercise regime. I have enough pills for 25 days and I don't need to medicate her for the rest of her life.
  • At the very least, it should ease my mother's impending visit, as I think my mother is afraid to be left in the house alone with a 65-pound German shepherd who likes to kiss with her teeth.
  • No matter what I do, I can't give her the kind of life that she is genetically predisposed to. Maybe she needs this medication to live happily in the modern world as a Latch-Key Dog.
Then, when I got to work, I googled amitriptyline some more and discovered that it's an effective antihistamine, sometimes used to alleviate discomfort caused by allergies. You know, the kind of discomfort that might cause a dog to chew on her legs? So I don't feel so bad anymore.

1 comment:

quin said...

I keep forgetting to respond to this. No signs of mange at the kennel. I really think it is just a nervous tick like when people chew their finger nails. If you see her doing that get her attention. Let her know that isn't allowed with out making her feel she is in trouble.

Eventually she will stop.

Zoe had this habit of when we weren't paying attention to her she would run to the bath room trash and pull out dirt tissues then tear them up. Now she know that if she even tries to look at it I will say her name and No. If she test me then I clap my hands and say no again. But we have gotten to the point where she now looks the other direction when she passes the waste basket.

Of course I don't know if that holds true when she is alone with Andy. But he hasn't said he had any problems lately.