Mild sedative for Pet dog
January 3, 2008 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Mild sedative for a border collie while a human recovers from an illness.

My wife recently underwent surgery for breast cancer (sucess!) and probably will have chemo in the coming months.

Our's is a typical BC which we can normally deal with without much trouble. But with the upcoming therapy, my wife won't feel like dealing with Mr. BC.

Anyone have any suggestions on something to slooowww Mr. BC down a bit? Herbal or prescription drugs are okay. This isn't something we _really_ want to do but we don't have much in the way of alternatives. And no, we don't want to keep him in this state. But there may be times when he needs to be 'calmer' for a day or two.
posted by sandpine to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
Why dont you just put him outside instead of drugging him? Or put him in a kennel?
posted by mphuie at 12:17 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Perhaps on the days you need a little less dog, Doggie Day Care or even boarding for a couple of days would be better for both your wife and the dog than drugs.

Lots of dogs, my dalmatian Jones included, love going to the kennel. He gets "pampered boarding" which includes several periods each day of play, an indoor/outdoor kennel and lots of attention and interaction. Find the best dog day care and kennels in your area and just let Mr. BC go off to camp when you're wife needs a break.
posted by grumpy at 12:21 PM on January 3, 2008

I've heard benadryl or other drugs have been used a temporary sedative for animals who have to go one short car trips / doctor visits who get overly anxious. My aunts dogs have near death like panic attacks when fireworks go off, so her vet gave her fast acting anxiety pills for them to use when they start (she lives near a beach, so teenagers go down there with beers and set them off randomly during the summer).

That being said, you have a very high energy dog, and unless he actually burns up his energy, he will still be cranked once it wears off. He might even start showing other signs of anxiety to express all that extra energy his body is still making, if you end up having to use the stuff frequently.

Your best option might be to find a local dog walker / sitter (you? or the neighborhood kid who wants a dog but whose parents wont let them) to take the dog out on long exhausting walks during the weeks (maybe even using a weighted dog back pack, to help burn the energy), along with complicated dog toys like Kongs stuffed with treats, to keep his brain busy too. That way your dog is healthy but too exhausted to be a trouble around the house, and consult with your vet about a sedative to be used in last case / extreme cases (your wife is having a bad reaction during the chemo, or she is returning from being at the hospital and the dog just can't wait to greet her) when you just can't have him going crazy.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:30 PM on January 3, 2008

I have a border collie crossed with a greyhound. She's gorgeous, but hyperactive.

My local vets often prescribes some tablets to people over the bonfire night period. I give my dog Rescue Remedy, which keeps her calm, but I doubt it would work to stop the dog from being hyperactive. I can't recall offhand what the pills are called, but a neighbour has reported success with them.

I'd be inclined to talk to your vet, and get something specifically designed for a pet, rather than giving it human medication.
posted by Solomon at 12:35 PM on January 3, 2008

Hiring a dog walker may be expensive for you, depending on your circumstances and for how long you need this help. Perhaps you could call your local SPCA and ask if they have any volunteers who could walk your dog. Or contact your local volunteer centre and ask if they have a volunteer who could walk your dog. If you explain the circumstances, I'm sure someone will help.

In the meantime, you should talk to your vet.
posted by acoutu at 12:37 PM on January 3, 2008

can you treat yourselves to a dogwalker or a favour from one of those pals who are no doubt offering to help you through her recovery period? get them to take the dog and run her ragged so she'll be too tired to be hyper. maybe a kong full of peanut butter might help in a pinch, too? good luck!
posted by twistofrhyme at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2008

Seconding twistofrhyme, for all those well-meaning but sort of useless offers of "If there's anything I can do, please let me know," this would be perfect. If the dog could visit their house, or if they could just come over and give the pup some quality rough-housing time when your wife is feeling especially bad. Cycle through friends, so no one feels like they bought a dog unawares, and very best of luck to you and your wife.
posted by headspace at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

My friends give half a benadryl to their dog to calm the sucker down when they have cookouts.

Really a call to your vet could possibly resolve this quesiton...
posted by wfrgms at 1:48 PM on January 3, 2008

Thanks for all the feedback.

Continual use of 'doggie day care' isn't a real option; ~ 1 hour round trip to drop off
Mr. BC. Plus there's the costs involved. Outside 'storage' isn't an option either.

Sounds like the best suggestions are herbal remedies + something a bit stronger from the vet for occasional use. Rescue Remedy works but not for long; on a similar note, using 'Calms Forte' has helped sometimes.

Thanks to everyone of the MetaMind ! :)
posted by sandpine at 2:12 PM on January 3, 2008

A cortisone shot slowed our cat way down recently (she needed it for other reasons). But I reiterate the recommendations to board the little guy for short times he can't be cared for properly.
posted by scarabic at 2:13 PM on January 3, 2008

Call around and find a vet that has an animal behavioralist on staff. A one-hour consultation with an animal behavioralist costs about $40 at my vet, and they can suggest and prescribe medications for your dog as well. Many are happy to do phone consultations, as well.

Here's another idea: From when I was 10 until I was 12, a nice couple down the street paid me $1/day to let out and play with their high-energy Gordon Setter. This would have been in the mid 80's - so you will probably have to offer a bit more in terms of $ now. But if there are any kids in your area, that may be an option. I definitely wore out their dog playing fetch with it and chasing it around the yard.
posted by Ostara at 2:28 PM on January 3, 2008

Acepromazine is good for such things. I have a border and he has some of that before he goes to the vet. Ace requires a prescription.
posted by jet_silver at 3:06 PM on January 3, 2008

Another border collie owner here. I was thinking of day care too but if cost is an issue - why not take advantage of friends that offer to help: maybe they can take turns walking the dog or running with him. Check out rates for pet walkers instead of daycare.

Does your hospital or area has a cancer support group? Can you get some volunteers to help you take the dog to dog parks, or walk him? Seriously try the volunteer center at your hospital.

Some outside stimulus may also really help the dog who is bound to have some idea of your wife's illness (there's some theories out there about pets smelling human illness). He probably has some anxiety about it as well. He may even surprise you by being less boisterous and even comforting. When I come home from a particularly exhausting day my BC will occasionally not shove the frisbee at me repeatedly, but rather delicately lean her head against my side. Such amazingly insightful dogs.

As with all medications, every human and animal reacts differently. Discuss this with your vet so you can use proper dosages and not compound family stress with a sick dog as well. I gave benadryl to my dog for a rash one (using the proper dosage for her weight from the vet) and it did not tire her AT ALL.

Best wishes to you, your wife and your family for a speedy and comfortable recovery.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:53 PM on January 3, 2008

Friends of mine has an intensely neurotic lab x boxer who—despite their diligent investments in time, exercise and attention—tends to flip completely out over even minor changes in his environment. Their vet gave them a script for fluoxetine (Prozac) which has helped immensely (for the dog. Not the owners, although I'm sure they considered it when the dog was chewing off his own skin). The dog has been on it for years and is now a robust 16 (which is great for a dog his size), so at least for his case there hasn't been any detrimental side effects.
posted by jamaro at 5:37 PM on January 3, 2008

You can safely give a dog Benadryl, which knocks many of them out the same way it will people. The dosage is 1mg per pound of dog, so if you have a 25 lb dog, one normal tablet ought to do it. Just wrap it in some bread and feed it to your dog. Alternatively, you can get the children's liquid Benadryl and put it on his food. You should be able do this twice a day for long periods of time with no ill effect. My own dog gets around the clock Benadryl during flea season due to flea allergies. As to whether or not this will actually calm him down, well, YMMV. Still, it's by far the cheapest and easiest option, so I'd try that first, if I were you.

If this doesn't work, there are a lot of different sedatives and anti-anxiety meds that you can get a prescription for from your veterinarian, including prozac, as mentioned above. Some of them you can even get filled at at your local people pharmacy to make it a little cheaper. Don't be afraid to ask your vet about it. We do this sort of thing all the time where I work.

(I am not a veterinarian, just a vet tech. This is not veterinary advice.)

Oh, and because I feel obligated to say it, keep in mind that just because some people meds work on dogs well, doesn't mean that all do. For instance, never ever give a dog ibuprofen. Their liver will shut down.
posted by internet!Hannah at 6:30 PM on January 3, 2008

In my extremely limited experience, sedatives tend to cause kind of a rebound flip-out when they wear off.

I really think your number one best bet would be to find a jogger to take your dog on a really long run every day. Seriously, you or someone you know must know someone nearby who runs. Three or four miles and your dog will be happy and mellow for the rest of the day. This will be so much more healthful for him than doping him up. He is going to be stressed by your stress and this will help him cope.

A tired dog is a good dog!
posted by Enroute at 6:54 PM on January 3, 2008

What if you sent out an email to some close friends thanking them for all their support through all this and ask if any of them would like to help with walking the dog on some of her recovery days. Your friends want to help. And this is a fun, easy way for them to do so. Again best wishes for a good recovery.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2008

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