Thursday, October 28, 2010

Medication Update: 2 Weeks

Maisy has been on paroxetine for two weeks now. She took a half dose for the first week, and has been on the full dose (8mg) for a week now. Since the prescribing information I received from the compounding pharmacy said that we may see results as early as 2 weeks, I thought it would be interesting to do a quick evaluation of how it’s going so far.

The most important thing is that Maisy has tolerated the paroxetine well. She hasn’t had any significant side effects, and at this point, it is unlikely that she will. She has had slightly harder, dryer stools, but nothing that’s worth worrying about. It may or may not even be related to the paroxetine, but either way, I’ve been supplementing her breakfast with canned pumpkin to help her out.

I do think the paroxetine is helping. The veterinary behaviorist told us not to expect improvement until Maisy’s been on the medication for 4 to 6 weeks, with full effectiveness at 8 weeks, but even so, I’ve noticed some small changes that give me glimmers of hope.

The first thing I noticed happened after Maisy’s fourth (half) dose, when she actually took a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Not only that, but she actually slept for the entire time, and didn’t startle awake a single time! It used to be that if I touched her while she was lying next to me, she would jump. Now when I pet her (or even just accidentally bump her), she might simply lift her head, but often she just opens her eyes to look at me instead.

The restlessness seems to have reduced as well. For example, about a month ago, Maisy and I were hanging out together while I watched television. Maisy was lying down, and over the course of 45 minutes, I counted 11 times that she lifted her head for two to three minutes to scan the environment. Yesterday, we did the same thing, and although the count came out the same, it seemed like she was actually resting. Each time she lifted her head, it only lasted five to ten seconds, and several times, it seemed that she was actually shifting to get more comfortable. She went from curled up in a ball next to me, to lying flat on her side, to lying sprawled on her back!

I think this is part of an overall trend of lower intensity reactions, especially when something startles her. For example, the other day Maisy was lying next to me quietly when I heard a noise outside. Maisy heard it too, and I thought she was going to jump up like she used to. Instead, she jerked her head slightly, but only lifted it about an inch off the couch! I’m not sure if she interrupted her response on purpose or not, but it was amazing to see.

The vocalizations around the house are happening less often, too. When I did the behavior logs prior to her appointment, I learned that Maisy would jump up and growl, bark or “wuff” at subtle or undetectable stimuli an average of 3.375 times a day. In an effort to get some objective data, I’ve been keeping a behavior log for the last 48 hours. During this time, she’s only displayed the behavior four times, for an average of twice a day.

As for her leash reactivity, well, it’s too soon to say for sure. She did growl a little bit at a chocolate lab that we saw in our local pet store the other day. She even lunged at him, but by the time she reached the end of the leash, the growl had dissolved into this pathetic whine. Later, as we were standing in the check-out line, the same dog rushed up to Maisy, and although she briefly stiffened up, she quickly relaxed.

Yesterday, as we were walking past an elementary school, a group of half a dozen older kids suddenly burst out of the school, chattering loudly. I could see Maisy tensing up as if she was going to lunge and bark. However, instead of having a hair-trigger reaction, it almost seemed like she was thinking about whether or not she should react. This slight hesitation (it was really only an extra half a second) was just enough time for me to interrupt her response, and we played a quick round of Look at That instead!

For all of these changes, Maisy is still the same dog. She’s still energetic, playful, and eager to train and work. Her personality hasn’t changed at all. She doesn’t seem drugged up or different in any way, she just seems more comfortable. We should see this increase as the medication becomes fully effective, and while it’s possible that she might need a second med to help her completely, I’m thrilled with what I’ve seen so far.


Kristine said...

Hi there, I just found your blog and it looks like we may have a lot in common. As far as reactivity goes, my first dog has hit every button. I'm so glad you're seeing some progress! Sometimes it seems like nothing is working and it sucks.

Maisy is abolutely beautiful. I look forward to reading about your experiences and maybe learning a few things.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

That is such awesome news!!! It must feel so good to finally see her relax a little bit, and with no work on your part :)

Crystal said...

Kristine- welcome to my blog! (And thank you- I agree that Maisy's pretty cute, but... I'm rather biased!) I'm looking forward to reading about you and Shiva, too.

Laura- Of course, after I posted this, Maisy sort of fell apart. She's been very jumpy tonight. Sigh. I guess it's just like that sometimes...

Raegan said...

We are so pulling for you here!

Annieke said...

Yay! That's great news!

I've been reading your blog for a week now, and I too have a reactive dog. She's much less reactive than your Maisy, and I seem to have a sort of sixth sense for when she might become reactive. This prevents her from going off (she'll lunge and bark at other dogs) most of the time, and most people don't even know she IS reactive! People always say she's so nice and calm, such a sweet dog, and then I always say 'you should see her when I'm not with her!' She SEEMS like the ideal dog, but only because of a lot of management and help on my part.

Crystal said...

Thanks, Raegan!

Annieke- Luna is GORGEOUS. I look forward to reading more about her (and seeing all her pictures).

Katherine said...

Can't wait to get another two week update! Glad to hear it seems to be working well so far.

Joanna said...

I'm so happy to be reading about these changes!