I’ve been a little hesitant to talk about the details of Silas’s medication here. On one hand, at this point it’s not a subject that I really consider up for debate, so why bring it up? We thought very hard about it, tried several natural alternatives (some of which worked very well, but they just weren’t enough), and ultimately made what feels like the best decision for us.
On the other hand, information about the realities of psychiatric medication for your dog is pretty thin on the ground. A big part of what I’m trying to do here is help people with the day-to-day business of living with a fearful dog. Not talking about it also means that the blog is just sitting here lonely. So, I’m just going to level with you about some of the things that are going on around here right now. (I’m not going into the specifics of which medication/what dosage because I don’t want to be flooded with pharmaceutical spam.)
There are three main things that we’re having to watch.
First, how is Silas’s energy level? Does he seem like himself? If he seemed overly sedated, we would need to change the medication. I was actually quite worried about this the week after we came back from visiting my family, but that seems to have been plain old post-vacation exhaustion. He’s back to himself now.
Secondly, what is his appetite like? Silas considers eating to be a sort of onerous duty. I’d never have to write one of those posts about how I left down the kibble and he ate most of the bag. I can already tell that this is going to be the limiting factor with his current medication. Decreased appetite is a side effect, and we’re definitely seeing it. For now it’s tolerable. If we have to adjust the dosage it may not stay that way. I’m having to work a little harder than usual to get Silas eating, but most days I do manage to get his full ration in him. Interestingly, after months and months of feeding Silas three meals a day, he seamlessly readjusted himself back to two. I’ve suspected for a while that his stomach was well enough to dispense with lunch, but now I know.
Finally, is the medication actually helping? Silas is barking less at random neighborhood sounds. He’s slightly less frightened of some things. The big-picture stuff is still going to take a lot of work, though. This is no magic pill that’s going to have him walking happily out of the garage with no work on my part, sitting calmly by while I vacuum, or cheerfully accepting a toenail trim. What I’m hoping is that this will lessen the fear enough that I can tackle the much easier job of training away the habit of being afraid. What I need is a toe-hold from which to start a process that will, undoubtedly, still be very long. I think I’ve got that now. We’ll see.