First things first
Not really knowing what our options were at the time and being in the height of thunderstorm season here so limited in our time to explore them, our first recourse was our vet. They must have seen cases like this before, they must have ideas, experience, something that could help her.
I love our vets so please don't take this badly but they are pretty traditional types and that, along with not really having seen what Bella was going through and perhaps not understanding the depth of her fear, led them towards the traditional route of medicating her during the 'events'. Unfortunately, the first thing they prescribed for Bella's fear was Acepromazine. They gave us four pills. We have 3 left. Here's why:
I did some research at my go-to blog for all things scaredy-dog, and found this article about Acepromazine by Debbie Jacobs over at fearfuldogs.com. Reading this article now breaks my heart for what we put Bella through. Yes, once the medication kicked in, she seemed calm (downright vegetative, in fact) but her sensitivity to noise and storms afterwards ascended to new heights. Essentially, we took a dog that was afraid of something, did nothing to calm her fear and then paralyzed her ability to react to it. Nice. (I will get over my guilt someday...)
|This is your dog on drugs...|
(Not really, that wouldn't be nice.)
And that did have the effect of helping Bella to rest if not actually sleep during the storms - if we got it into her in time. So while we were relatively pleased with the result, here's 'the rest of the story':
- The drug must be taken 1 hour prior to an event. That's pretty tough around here where storms can move in over a matter of minutes, not to mention half of them happen when you're asleep.
- It turned her into a zombie and she slept for hours afterwards.
- As a result of her zombie-fication, we obviously couldn't use it on a daily basis over the course of the storm season.
And so it goes...
So Rounds 1 and 2 went to the thunderstorms and our search for something that could help Bella when she needed it to, continued. I can recommend folks talk to their vets about Diazepam if they live in areas where thunderstorms are fairly predictable and/or the storm season short-lived. Our season is essentially April - September so it's a bit long to leave a dog on hard-core tranqs for the entire thing.
And since it appeared this was going to be a long-term challenge, we began looking into less drastic means of helping Bella cope. In the next installment, I'll discuss our attempts to use natural supplements and scents to stem the fear.
To be continued
I know from last week's comments that lots of my readers are dealing with thunder/storm phobias. Have any of you used either of these drugs and, if so, what was your experience? Are you still using them? Did they help/hurt? I'd really love for this to be a discussion because, while things are better in some ways, we've still not found the complete solution. Ever learning...