Maisy has now been on paroxetine for four weeks, three of which have been at the full dose of 8mg. When Maisy’s veterinary behaviorist prescribed it, she said it would take 4-6 weeks before we saw any results. Since I saw some improvement at two weeks, I was very excited to see what she’d be like at four weeks. So, for the last three days, I’ve been keeping behavior logs in order to get some objective data.
The data has been… interesting. I was expecting to see a decrease in the number of outbursts Maisy is having, but this has not happened. Prior to her appointment, Maisy would bark or growl at subtle or undetectable stimuli an average of 3.375 times a day. At two weeks, this had decreased to an average of 2 times a day. During this week’s behavior logs, Maisy’s average was 2.667 times a day.
Although this is a reduction from the baseline, I was still disappointed when I saw this. Of course, the numbers are the numbers, but I really felt like Maisy is doing better than she was, especially since it seems like Maisy isn’t as vigilant as she used to be. She might be vocalizing when something startles her, but she seems to settle down faster.
So, I went back to the original behavior logs. Although I hadn’t been scoring the intensity of her reactions, I had kept a fair amount of detail. During the basline period, Maisy’s outbursts included extended vigilance (defined as either trotting around the house scanning the room intently for at least ten seconds) 45% of the time. Two weeks ago, she demonstrated such vigilance 25% of the time. This time, she scored the same: 25%. Good.
Next, I did the restlessness test. This is where I settle down with Maisy and watch a TV program while she lies next to me. During the baseline, she lifted her head or got up 11 times in 45 minutes. Two weeks ago, the number was the same, but the amount of time she looked around had reduced greatly. This time was actually worse- 19 times. It really seemed like she was having a hard time settling down. I think this was because of when I did the observation. The first two times, I came home and immediately watched the show. Yesterday, we went for a three mile walk with friends first. I think the amount of activity immediately preceding the test affected the results. I’ll do it again in a couple of weeks and see what happens.
As for her reactivity, she’s doing well. Like I said, yesterday we went on a walk with friends. I was a bit concerned in the beginning when she rushed towards two dogs. However, she was quiet during those incidents, and frankly, I couldn’t tell if she was trying to scare them off, or if she wanted to go say hi. After that, she settled down nicely and passed other dogs, including large, dark, prick-eared dogs, without a problem.
We also had a milestone in her reactive dog class on Tuesday: It was the first time she went through an entire class without any incident. She’s come close before, with only one or two soft vocalizations during the hour, but this week, there were none. Now, granted, she was in a covered crate the entire time, but that’s never stopped her before. Even better, she was actually relaxed- she appeared to be resting instead of working for treats.
Finally, I should note that Maisy is not experiencing any side effects due to the medication. During the first three weeks, she had some harder stools than normal, but that has subsided over the past week.
Overall, I do think the medication is helping her. She’s tolerating well, and she seems more relaxed. The decrease in vigilance is pretty amazing. The medication will continue to build up in Maisy’s system, and full effectiveness should be seen between 6 and 8 weeks. Hopefully, Maisy continues to improve.