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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Panic attacks in an older dog

Our little Jack Russell is now 20. She is, for the most part, very well and the vet is pleased with her although she is nearly deaf and has poor sight. She has been on Vetmedin for eight years so it must have worked! She occasionally has what I can only describe as panic attacks - a screaming bark and then a flight reaction, wanting to run off. She takes half an hour to calm down. Different things trigger it - sometimes a very high pitched noise sets it off or sometimes nothing very much. It is distressing to see her so distressed but we don't really want conventional medicine has to offer - sedation we gather. Can anyone advise - we try to prevent by keeping life calm and it nearly works apart from an odd occasion now.
Linda Smith

At the risk of being boring, can I be the first to suggest Vivitonin? While it's something you have to get from the vet it's a very unusual drug that seems to just improve so many things for older dogs. I've seen it make incredible changes, really like turning back the clock. There are very few miracle drugs - but this one is well worth a try. You can see it's effects within two weeks. If no change, stop. It makes the blood circulate better - and with better blood supply brain activity improves, muscles, coat - it really is like putting better petrol in the tank! I first used it 15 years ago and I have to say I was skeptical, but I was won over by the results. (And no - they don't advertise with us - GRRR!. I amd told that in Japan it has a licence for use on humans in connection with Alzheimers.
Twenty years is an impressive age - have you contacted our Golden Oldies section to see if she is eligible for a telegram from the Queen's Corgis? Email with the weight of your dog, date of birth and some general info about your dog. Also do send a photo. Every dog featured on the page gets a treat from Daisy's Dog Deli and the oldest each month gets a cake!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Like Beverley, I am a great fan of propentofylline (Vivitonin, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health), having seen some wonderful results over the years. When I first read this post, I had just replied to a query about improving demeanour in an old dog and the use of Vivitonin and did not want to repeat myself. Now that the snow has gone and normality is starting to return, I am back at the keyboard to escape from a blanket of freezing fog, and was surprised to see that there has only been one response to your query.
It also gave me a chance to re-read your query, which was when I realised that there is a difference here. I feel that this may be one of those cases where Vivitonin may not be prescribed readily by your vet after due consideration of your dog’s health and current medication. Your Jack Russell Terrier (unfortunately, you have not given us her name) has been on pimobendan (Vetmedin, Boehringer Ingelheim Limited) for the past eight years. This is a drug for congestive heart failure. Although Vivitonin has a very useful role in improving the demeanour of older dogs – I call it the geriatric pep pill – there are certain situations where its use must be with caution, if at all. Congestive heart failure is one of those health conditions, because of the effect that the active ingredient propentofylline has on the heart. Indeed, this is why Vivitonin is a POM-V or Prescription-Only Medicine, requiring it to be prescribed by and under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon. It is a drug and cannot be given to any old dog without careful appraisal of any underlying health problems.
I do wonder, though, whether I can suggest a non-conventional approach that may help your dog: Dog Appeasing Pheromone and in particular a DAP collar. This is worn all the time by the dog so that she is influenced by DAP all the time, the pheromone given out by a nursing bitch to soothe and calm her litter of puppies.
My Labrador retriever became very insecure this time last year when we were in the throes of first moving house, then settling in to our new home. She became very anxious and started acting out of character. In particular, at night when taken outside for a last wee she would wander off and then refuse to come back inside.
With the DAP collar on, Pippin returned to her usual self. That the collar had helped became apparent when I had reason to pop her into a kennel at work because it was yet again snowy, and therefore too cold for her to wait for me in the car. I warned all the nurses that she would in her usual manner bark once I had left her.
No noise. I returned to check on her to find her lying stretched in the kennel, sound asleep. The final proof of the pudding came when she woke up and I gave her a treat. Previously she had been so unhappy to be in a kennel at work that she had totally ignored a treat I gave her – a Labrador ignore food? This time, she readily took the dental chew and happily ate it at her usual rate. What was different? I then realised that she was still wearing her DAP collar.
Have a word with your vet and see what she or he thinks. Twenty years old is a fantastic age to have reached so it would be great to be able to help her with this problem,
Alison Logan, vet

1 comment:

  1. You may want to do some research into Canine Bowen. Bowen can affect the parasymphatic system as well as having a good track record with physical injuries and problems.
    It can help to relieve stress and instill a feeling of wellbeing so I would heartily recommend you look into it for your dog.
    A list of canine Bowen therapists can be found on