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Dogs on Drugs: Chlomipramine Decision

Earlier, I shared some new dog behaviors that cropped up after we dropped Lilly’s evening dose of chlomipramine. Others of more concern began to worsen as the levels of meds in her system dropped for real after 6 weeks on a lower dose. So … we’ve decided …

To put Lilly back on a full dose — 75 mg twice a day.

I simply cannot have her feeling awful just because I wish she could be on a lower dose or (some day) off meds entirely for her anxiety.

Over recent weeks, we’ve seen signs that Lilly suffered growing anxiety even in daily life. These include:

  • Hiding
  • Running from us
  • Cowering on approach
  • Off-the-charts snarking toward Ginko

Her reactions toward Ginko — who truly was doing NOTHING — is most worrisome to me. He is getting older and his patience runs thin sometimes. It isn’t fair for her to be so crabby toward him.

And, I mean full-on teeth-baring, growling, and occasional snapping at him. She does it most often in a resource-guarding scenario … where she is trying to control his access to me or Tom (or a certain room).

At some point, he is going to retaliate … I fear.

I even found Ginko trapped in the back bathroom. Lilly had driven him across the house and into the bathroom, then would NOT let him out. I heard him crying, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until I found him trapped.

That’s not OK.

In addition to going back to a full dose, I’ll be redoubling my efforts to make sure Lilly gets enough exercise and does at least a little training and / or behavior modification work each day.

This is a discouraging turn of events, but if Lilly needs the meds to feel OK, then she needs them. I don’t feel bad about Ginko needing thyroid meds twice a day, and I shouldn’t feel icky about Lilly needing her brain chemistry meds either. Right? Right!

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

John Ferrel - January 3, 2012

That was sad to read although now you know what your dog needs..

We all wish the best for Lily.
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Jana Rade - December 24, 2011

Having direct experience with my own anxiety, I say, whatever it takes it feel better goes. Truly.
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Carolyn - December 20, 2011

Your love for your dogs is admirable.

LeeAnne McAdam - December 20, 2011

I am sorry that things didn’t go as you had hoped. I know how disappointing it can be when you’ve had success, only to be followed by setbacks. But I don’t think you should feel badly about going back to the original dose. Some people need medication to function more normally so why shouldn’t it be okay for a dog? I’m sure they don’t enjoy the feeling of turmoil either. I say good for you and Lilly.

Katie, Maizey and Magnus - December 20, 2011

I’m sorry the lower dose didn’t work out. There will always be a part of me that wishes Maizey could be herself without meds, but so far it’s not possible. Recently someone commented that I wouldn’t want to leave her on Fluoxetine long term since it “couldn’t be good for her over all health.” I replied neither is not being able to go in the front yard without a melt down, having to retreat and hide in the closet or bathroom for most of her life, never getting to go for a walk without getting sick and all the other things that bring her anxiety. For her it’s a quality of life issue. Without it she has none, with it she can go to the park, travel with us, train in my training center, with it she can be herself. To me that’s worth it. Still I understand and respect you for not only being courageous enough to use meds, but courageous enough to try to lower the dose too. Loving an anxious dog is just not easy, but there are those of us who understand. Thanks for sharing your story!
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Leslie - December 20, 2011

Oh, I feel your pain. I’m sorry taking her off the meds hasn’t worked but I don’t think you should feel guilty about keeping her on them. For her comfort and for the safety of the other members in your household.

We put Bella on Fluoxetine back in August because of some behaviors that started and we just couldn’t allow (she snapped at my husband!) After some adjustments, she’s like a new dog. She still has some behaviors that need to be modified but at least now that she doesn’t spend her whole day living in fear, we can get her focused enough to work with her.

I know it’s frustrating when you want your dog to be “normal” but you’re doing what you can to at least help her feel somewhat normal. You should be proud of that – not everyone goes to such effort.
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Laura, Lance, and Vito - December 20, 2011

I’m sorry. But there’s nothing to feel bad about going back to a higher dosage. Lilly clearly needs them to feel secure. It’s such a hard decision to go on meds as it feels like we’re admitting defeat, but it really shouldn’t be that way!
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