We lowered Liezel’s anti-anxiety medication January 14. I thought it was my imagination that I started seeing signs of her experiencing discomfort this week. She seemed sensitive to sounds, more alert and barking more than usual (a couple times per day vs a couple times per week).
Ten minutes in to obedience class yesterday, the trainer asked, “Did something change between this week and last?” because Liezel was a mess. She would not maintain a stay, but would run after me. She was concerned about looking everywhere except forward when in heel. She frantically darted in every direction and as far as the leash would allow. And the look in her eyes was pure fear (from my perspective).
We stayed for the 60 minute class and by the end she would maintain a stay and she would heel appropriately, but she was very concerned about everything around her.
We talked with the trainers a bit and explained that we were lowering the dosage because she had been doing so well with everything. The medication is only to calm her enough so she can learn coping skills, not to keep her medicated her whole life. They agree with me and added that I would have to determine which is better: to have a nervous, anxiety ridden dog that can’t calm or to put life long stress on her kidneys to filter medication – but a medication that will allow her to live an emotionally manageable life. Believe me, I know those are the choices.
I don’t know if what’s going on right now is withdrawal symptoms or truly her inability to function on a lower dosage of the medication. I’m going to give it a full month (unless things get really bad), report back to the vet, and go from there. If the anxiety continues to ramp up, we’ll go back to the dosage that was working and if she balances out on the lower dosage we’ll stay the course.
I feel awful for Liezel. As I type this out and watch her chew her bone, she looks up at me with those beautiful almond shaped eyes and I just want to protect her. Protect her from fear, anxiety, discomfort, or any other bad thing she might experience. I think that’s just how Moms (parents) feel.