Thursday, January 20, 2011
Medication Update: 6 weeks at 10mg
Maisy has now been on the increased dose of paroxetine for 6 weeks. After the awesome logs two weeks ago, the behavior logs this week didn’t look so good. I did three days of logs, and Maisy had a total of 10 incidents where she seemed to overreact to small or undetectable stimuli, for an average of 3.3 per day. Just two weeks ago, she’d had only one incident in three days.
When I wrote Dr. Duxbury, Maisy’s veterinary behaviorist, after the first two days to let her know, I theorized that the disappointing results might have been due to the fact that I’d slacked off on my behavior modification work. Dr. Duxbury agreed that was a possibility, but also added that sometimes dogs get a bit quieter after starting a new med or dosage, and perhaps that's why the logs looked so good last time. She also said that dogs often cycle through “good” times and “bad” ones, which certainly seems possible. When I went back through the previous posts I’ve made on Maisy’s progress, I saw that the numbers do fluctuate from week to week.
Personally, I prefer my explanation, not because I don’t value Dr. Duxbury’s expertise (I do!), but because mine seems the easiest to control! I don't like it when I can't fix things, and my theory lends itself best to action. So, I decided to test my theory. After I took those two days of logs, I spent the next 24 hours diligently tossing treats as part of our counter-conditioning plan. Then I took another day’s worth of data. The end result didn't exactly prove me right, but it suggested that my theory has merit.
The first two days of logs showed an average of four incidents per day. The last one showed an average of two. The duration of each behavior also dropped, from an average of 9.6 seconds to 3.0 seconds. And, while she both left the room and displayed signs of vigilance 25% of the time during the first two days, she didn’t do either during the last day. Obviously, I can’t draw any firm conclusions from such a limited amount of data, but it’s enough to convince me: medication is more effective when combined with behavior modification.
Despite the worsening numbers, the overall trend remains positive. Maisy is sleeping well. She relaxes around the house and no longer needs constant interaction. She recovers quickly, and overall, the intensity of her reactions is way down. And hey- she’s no longer waking me up in the middle of the night! I am really, really happy that we chose to give her medication. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was clearly the right one.