canine separation anxiety grieving dogs
Did you know that most separation anxiety occurs in older dogs? and where there is a single head of household? and in an apartment housing? Obviously my Hammy was a prime candidate.

This article is about separation anxiety brought on by a disruption in the social structure of your companion...the loss of another beloved companion. Now your dog's world has been turned topsy turvy besides the accompanying horrific grief.

Currently Hammy has suffered the trauma of his life, the lost of his littermate Morgy with whom he spent the first 13 3/4 years of his life of which the first eleven years were immersed with play
Hammy appeared to be aware that Morgy was leaving as his anxiety increased greatly a month or two before Morgy died. He started crying nonstop when I left the two alone along with our two kitty cats and bird.

Morgy's body lay in rest on the floor for five hours until I could take the "container" to the vet. Hammy avoided it. At the vet's, I let Hammy sniff but Ham showed disinterest. That was in keeping with Hammy's very dominant personality. He hates to show emotion and he appears to get upset when his impulses take care and he kisses me...less upset when he nips me on the nose :-)..I sometimes wonder if that is one of the reasons why his separation anxiety and grief are so pronounced..from holding back so much.

Things immediately changed when we got back to my small apartment without Morgy. Whenever I moved in my studio apartment, Hammy was next to me. The slightest move, Hammy would get up and move next to me. This behavior continued for two weeks. The walks outside changed drastically. Hammy would always like to go his own way. His behavior first changed when Morgy lost energy. Then he would let Morgy set the pace and the place and not pull on the double lead. After Morgan died, Hammy would walk slowly behind me. Wherever I went Hammy would follow slowly behind me..Gradually I would pull the lead up so Hammy would be next to me. It took almost a month until Hammy started redoing his think and taking the lead and going this way and that and following the sniff.


The perfect gift for Dog Lovers
Dogtoys also sells wonderful treats. They sell Alaskan Salmon Yummy Chummies. The first day I gave them to Hammy, he spent two hours searching for more of them. He is 15 years old. Their first ingredients are whole Alaska Salmon, Salmon Meal Wheat Flour and Vegetable Protein.

I bought differentflower remedies including Rescue Remedy and homeopathic remedies when Morgy was given the diagnosis of bone cancer and the death sentence. My first thought was Hammy's facing Morgy's death. Little did I know it would be two and half years later and not the three months at first guessed.
After Morgy died, I tried them on Hammy, but none made a dent. Some were Ignatia amara, Calms Forte, and Grief and Separation. We tried SamE, an antidepressant, which is also good for the liver. Nothing.
Young dogs are often crated to prevent damaging the house and to given a secure place to help with their separation anxiety. For an older dog, this isn't appropriate and it might just add to the trauma of change
Owners are often told to leave puppies for short intervals of time and show the dog that they are coming back to get used to separation. For older dogs, this might enhance their panic response.
Soda cans filled with pennies and then shaken to create a loud sound at the other side of the door might help stop the barking for a young pup..the scare tactic..for an older dog..especially a deaf dog..it just doesn't do it..
We (Hammy's vet and I) tried a Citronella collar( probably the most humane of gadgets) to try to prevent him from howling. The collar is run by batteries and has a small container which you fill via an aerosol of citronella. The container holds only a little bit and is set off by barking. I was already getting complaints from neighors. He was howling and crying for two hours while I had to go somewhere. The spray would only last for a few sprays..he didn't like it but it didn't stop him.
We tried acepromazine..He is so stubborn. It didn't seem to have the sedative properties needed to slow down his anxiety. He still got so upset. After all, his social structure had been limited to begin with and now it had collapsed. He was in a brave new world besides suffering the grief of loss. Even the cats were touched by Morgan's loss. Yuki sat my Morgy's body for a little while. She seems okay. She would tease him when he was sick and he seemed to like it. She would go over and put her tail in his face or rub against him or do silly things as if to distract him.
Snowy was asleep and I know now I should have awakened him. Have read it depends upon the individual animal whether it is necessary to let them see what has transpired. Right after Morgan died, Snowy would go to the window everyday for two months which he never did before and hasn't done since for a month. Everyday Snow would stare out the window as if Morgan were outside. Samantha, my 13 year old mourning dove who is usually silently, hooed everyday for about a month after Morgy's passing. She started the day he died. Her cage is high so he wasn't always visible to her. Wonder if she felt his energy leave.

For the next medication Hammy was put on Elavil. My vet warned me that it probably wouldn't work but it was worth a try. We first had to wait for several weeks to get into his system and then see. One of the drawbacks was that it had to be given every day. Except for bladder stones a la schnauzer, Hammy has been a very healthy dog. The thought of giving him drugs every day was definitely not appealing. The Elavil didn't work.
My vet said not to worry and there were more drugs in the arsensal. Clomicalm(generic clomipramine) was one and one of the few that is approved for separation anxiety. He didn't recommend it. Research says that it works sometimes with behavior modification.
I asked my vet about Paxil,good for social anxiety and panic disorder but he said no..that it was hard on the liver.
I next requested Xanax..which is also used more for social anxiety and panic disorder. Hammy's anxiety at this point seems more related to his social structure and readjusting to being the only doggy after all these years. Also over seven months have past since Morgy passed on.

Xanax seems to work. The first time he was given it was so funny if not for the worry about what it was doing to his body. After about fifteen minutes after ingesting it, Hammy started having the munchies. He started eating his dry food which he eats at the last resort...gradually his legs started swaying as he continued eating..he finally was sprawled on the floor but continued eating. I called the vet in terror...to see what I should do and if this was normal. Yes..the dog will act stoned or high. I was told it was safe to leave him
He watched me from the place I had put him on the carpet..he had no traction on the wooden floor. For the first time, he hadn't run to the door to try to go with me. I returned home two and half hours later and he gave me a kiss hello and appeared fine and ready to go and happy.

Hammy now also has a deluxe bark collar.
I have had to up the Xanax with a consultation with the vet. I don't want to mention the dose because this is between you and your vet.
I gave him too much. I found him sprawled in the kitchen. I was able to get him up but he wasn't himself until the next day. All he did was want to sleep. All I wanted was a Xanax! I gave it to him an hour before I left and saw little signs that it was working. It must have hit him finally like two tons of bricks. As I don't want to keep on giving him xanax when I leave him for shorter periods of time, my vet said I should try one of those bark collars. After research, I bought one with 18 levels that is set off by noises other than barking. Hammy doesn't bark. He howls, whines, groans, and makes the most painful sounds of grieving. A regular bark collar just takes care of barks. Although this bark doesn't keep him quiet 100 percent (he is quiet 99.99 percent while I am home), it acts as deterrent..As a postscript, the bark collar no longer acts as a deterrent. Hammy is very stubborn.

I am not in a position to bring another companion into the house. Have also read this isn't always a solution to grieving. Time does heal. One should attempt to be more dominant to add security to the social structure may also help. Punishment shouldn't be used. If the dog hasn't been used to being crating, it may create more anxiety and frustration. If your dog was crate trained as a pup, you might try it as it might give your companion a sense of security. They are naturally den animals.

Hammy is also receiving supplements for his heart and liver and as little Xanax as possible.

It has been over seven months now since Morgy died and Hammy still shows anxiety when I leave him alone. The one m. xanax doesn't have the strong same effect as that initial time, but it helps. He still "pretends" he is the aloof doggy and spends a lot of his time with his back to me..except when he knows there is a treat in store..the other day he did kiss me five times and gave me two nips upon my return after leaving him for three hours...the biggest display of affection towards me in his life. He displayed affection with Morgan by play fighting for eleven years until Morgan grew lame. Then he pretended to pay little attention to Morgan for the next two and half years but let Morgan set the pace on the walks..which he never did before..never showed signs of jealousy when Morgy got fed first with his supplements and medication..never showed jealousy when Morgan was carried a great deal or held..but his howls over the past seven months certainly make up for it...and I don't blame him
Shortly a new product should arrive D.A.P. which is written up below. I am hoping the pheromones may mellow him out a bit when I leave him alone but so far only Xanax has worked.
More people are speaking up in the forums I am in about their dogs who have been left behind. One manifests separation anxiety not through howling but through constant pacing and constant attention seeking. Laurie is also going to try the new D.A.P. and is still resisting medication. Another dog is depressed and is clingy. A few other dogs are showing signs of depression. I don't know if SamE would work for them since they are not exhibiting any pacing or separation anxiety.


My beloved Hammy was put to sleep on September 18, 2003. Hammy started showing signs of a decline in the beginning of the summer and then showed a steeper decline in August. At first I blamed the summer heat although I had the air conditioner running non stop. Talk about denial. At first he was diagnosed with Canine cognitive dysfunction.

I think Snowball, our kitty cat knew that Hammy would soon be joining Morgy. For the last two and half months of his life, Snowy kept on following Hammy around and would rub his body against Hammy. It so beautiful. Then Hammy would sometimes rub his head against Snow's body. They even would rub heads. I would watch with such delight..being clueless to what was about to ensue.

I was also in denial as to how much weight Hammy lost. He looked thinner but his appetite was good. I didn't realize he was suffering from cachexia from renal failure where the body starts wasting because the metabolism is no longer in balance. I was prepared to have an incontinent dog who all of a sudden changed personalities from a very dominant and "aloof" dog to a docile and non alert dog from canine cognitive dysfunction...as long as I had Hammy and he wasn't suffering. Hammy did start responding to the medication for canine cognitive dysfunction on the fourth day of medication but he had already stopped eating and started dry heaving and had diarrhea. I took him to the vets for a blood test. The vet gave him fluids that day and the test. The next day the results came back. His kidneys were shot. As soon as the vet had an opening, three hours after I phoned the vet for the results, I took the vet's advice and spent half hour petting him. He knew. Then we went into the vet's office and I pet Hammy with one hand and sang to him and held his head in my other hand and vet gave him the injection. Hammy died with nobility and dignity. When I left the vet's office without Hammy and got to the end of the street, I had a vision of Hammy's face in front of me with a huge beaming smile. I knew I had done what he wanted me to do. As I write this, I am still in deep mourning and feel lost without my two pack member, Morgy and Hammy.


ALTERNATIVES
tips for separation anxiety
write up on clomicalm and behavior tips
the codependent dog