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December 9, 2011

For about 6 weeks now, Lilly’s chlomipramine dose has been just 75 mg ONCE a day (in the morning). We’ve dropped the nighttime dose. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but some new behaviors have cropped up. Now, I’m having doubts about the dog behavior meds decision.

I tend to clean things up right away, rather than take pictures, because I don’t want to make a big deal about it, so I have none to share, but all of a sudden when I’m gone from the house Lilly either:

  • Shreds the scrap paper and tissues in my office trash
  • Snorkels through the recycling, dragging items all over the house and eating some (parts of a pizza box, for example)

Despite her many fears, she has NEVER (and I mean never) shown any signs of separation anxiety, so I’m not entirely clear on what’s going on here.

It started right after my last business trip in October, when we dropped the nighttime dose. The day I flew home, Tom had some eldercare matters that required him to be gone all day (and the night I got back) too.

So, Lilly and Ginko were home alone for 12+ hours, including several hours after dark. We’ve always known they like being home alone less when it gets dark, but it isn’t entirely unusual. During past family medical emergencies, they have, on occasion, had to be home alone for 12-14 hours.

That one night when I didn’t get home until nearly 11 pm, everything was fine. The house was pristine. The dogs were hungry, happy to see me, and needed a trip outside to potty, but otherwise, they were fine.

However, I fear that it created a memorable moment for Lilly … not in a good way.

After that, anytime we’re gone … my office trash is in peril, and twice she dragged the recycling all over the house.

I suppose I should start putting the dog calming music on repeat when I leave, but so far my solution has been simply to put the recycling in the garage and to set my office trash can up on my desk. Problem solved.

Lilly doesn’t get extra motivated to access my office trash or to cause trouble elsewhere in the house. BUT, I worry that Lilly perhaps worries more than I’d like while I’m gone.

Decisions. Decisions.

Question … Would any of these shifts in dog behavior make YOU add back in the second daily dose? I cannot decide.


About the Author 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.

  1. I have a white German Shepherd, 8 months old now, who has always been shy and not interested in other dogs. Can you get a dog walker to take her out? I’d take her off that medication. Sounds like she is just bored. That’s what happens when you have the smartest breed around. 12 hours is too long to be left alone and not potty. Anyway, my humble opinion. Try to get someone to let her out and maybe play a while with her. She sounds lovely!

    1. Thanks, Marsha, for the ideas. The good news is that these long-alone days are VERY rare. It only happens when our family responsibilities align (in a bad way). Often we don’t know it’s going to be like this, until the very minute it happens. Because we live in such a remote location, getting a “real” or professional dog walker is a real challenge, but if it starts happening a lot (which I doubt), then we will indeed get a neighbor or something who is already up here to help out. The “bad” news is that we know from YEARS of experience that Lilly likely CANNOT function without at least some medical intervention for her fears. I’m merely hoping to get her down to the lowest possible dose. ;o)

  2. Ty recently started getting into the trash when we left the dogs alone. He’s never done that in his whole life. Might have something to do with the change in medication, or it could be that Lilly was just expressing her reaction to increased stress in the household.

  3. While working in a doggie daycare, I never found that DAP worked very well (maybe just too much stimulation with 30-35 dogs for it to work?), and I actually found that the dogs responded better to just a classical music station than they did to the special CDs we bought for calming them down.

  4. Is she nervous, or feeling better and is borded? That is a long time to be without activity for such an active dog. It might take her awhile to get used to finding other stuff (that you do not mind her doing) to do.

    I hope next year will bring your family less stress!

    1. Thanks, Susan. We have a trash can kind of like that in the kitchen and have never had trouble. This office situation is new and a bit strange. Yesterday, when I ran into town, I just set the can on my desk, and everything was fine.

  5. I just posted today about the decision to put an animal on medication so was really interested in your post (and was totally entertained that out of ALL the topics dog bloggers can write about we managed to post on the same topic!).

    If you are committed to continuing to lower the dose, before putting her back on the second dose a day, I would make sure I had calming music on all day, try adding DAP collar/diffuser, and try adding frozen kongs (if you aren’t already). Try some homeopathic remedies to see if with the smaller dose of chlom. they are effective in solving the new behavior issues.

    That’s how I’d probably go about it… maybe the one dose will take enough of the ‘edge’ off that the other homeopathic products will be more effective than if you tried them unsuccessfully before Chlom.

    1. Thanks, Tena, for your input. That is so funny that we posted on the same topic on the same day. As I noted in a comment on your blog, I now regret the time (years) I spent trying everything else (without success) because of my own aversion to these medications. We’re having a discussion about this on our Facebook page too, but I’m sad to report that DAP doesn’t work for Lilly. In fact, our behaviorist things I accidentally “poisoned” the scent, and Lilly actually associates it with bad things. But, I can continue to use the dog-calming music, and I get be better about leaving food-stuffed toys for her. Like I said, I don’t think this is true separation anxiety … I think she might just be frustrated or keying into the non-stop family medical dramas that have amped up the energy in our house so much lately. It’s just an interesting development as I see how Lilly does with less medical intervention.

  6. Hi Roxanne-
    I had a similar problem when I tried chlomipramine with my bulldog. Despite being middle aged/old for a bulldog, she started chewing on things that she never touched previously after I started the meds. For example, the antique wormwood bookcase! And the front door! My house is an older home and the front door, at the bottom, does not quite close flush. She hooks her bottom teeth under the edge and gnaws away.
    I eventually decided to take her off, though I gave it a good 6 months.
    Then recently, I thought I was getting a migraine, took my medicine to forestall it, and left the house for the day. I felt terrible all day long – nauseous, etc. Interestingly, when I got home I realized I had taken my dog’s chlomipramine! In retrospect, I think if I had felt that bad for any length of time I would have started to gnaw on the door or something as well.
    Note to self: seperate the human and canine meds!

    1. Hi, Elizabeth ~ Lilly has been on chlomipramine for YEARS, so she didn’t have trouble going on to it, but I do wonder (from personal experience as well with similar meds) if coming “down” or coming “off” isn’t a little harder than I expected. As the weeks go on, we’ve seen less trash diving, so maybe things are getting better. I’ve also been giving her Milk Thistle to help her body process things a bit better through the liver. It might be total bunk, but another friend with a dog like Lilly suggested it, so we’re giving it a try.

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