Why I Don’t Judge People For Medicating Dogs With Anxiety

Jen Gabbard

Every once in a while you read an article that really gets to you. One that makes you say yes, damnit!

Well for me it was Rant(ish): Don’t Tell Me I’m Doing Too Much With My IVDD Dog!

It brought up all the mixed feelings I have about receiving unsolicited advice, especially when it comes to medicating dogs with anxiety.

I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should use medication, and I’m not going to tell you what medication to use.

I’m just going to tell you from personal experience why I don’t judge others based on their decision to use anxiety medication for their dogs.

Severe Anxiety in Dogs Causes Suffering

My previous dog Carter suffered from severe anxiety, and unfortunately it was not something that was easy to manage.

When I made the choice to treat my dogs anxiety with medication it was not a decision I made quickly. We had tried behavioral modification methods, desensitization, thunder shirts, calming oils, soothing music & supplements. We tried “riding it out,” distraction techniques & just acting like it was no big deal. None of those methods stopped the shear panic & hysteria he experienced during fireworks.

We tried every combination of treatments but nothing worked. While we did see improvements during thunderstorms, fireworks remained a problem.

His anxiety during fireworks was not what anyone would consider normal. It was constant shaking, pacing, whining, drooling & scratching at the door to escape. We’d move to a quieter room yet the anxiety followed him everywhere. It’s heartbreaking to see your dog so out of control with fear, feeling completely helpless yourself because you can’t figure out how to make it stop.

That sort of anxiety is brutal, and I’d certainly classify it as causing pain & suffering.

Sometimes Medication is the Humane Option

Not all dogs suffer from severe anxiety, like many conditions it exists on a spectrum from mild to severe. But for the dogs that do suffer from it medication can be the most humane option.

Choosing to use medication for an anxious dog is not an easy decision, and it’s certainly not one I took lightly. When your dog is suffering you’ll be faced with difficult choices, and they’re yours alone to make.

I didn’t think of anxiety medication as a “quick fix,” and I didn’t have delusions that it was going to erase all of his anxieties. It’s purpose for us wasn’t to fix the anxiety & fear altogether, it was to help make it more manageable.

Many dogs don’t need medications, as much as they need consistent training and exercise, but for others the benefits of the appropriate medication are huge. – Medications For Fear & Anxiety, Fearfuldogs.com

Why I Don’t Judge Dog Owners Regarding Medication

After choosing to use medication to help treat his anxiety during fireworks I received some criticism & all kinds of unsolicited advice. Most of it made me feel ten times worse.

When you simply say “well I wouldn’t medicate my dog for that” it seems to imply that you assume we failed. That we haven’t tried to fix the problem hard enough, or that we’re just giving up. That we’re just reaching for medication because it’s “easy.”

When you tell me that your dog used to be fearful of storms but now they’re fine because you found some amazing oil I get it, I really do. You’re trying to be helpful by offering a suggestion, but sometimes that advice just makes us feel like our issues are somehow no big deal. I mean if it can be fixed with oil why the hell am I still having a problem?

I’m glad that worked for your dog, but that doesn’t mean it will work for my dog.

Giving advice isn’t a bad thing, but depending on the subject matter it can get pretty sensitive. When we’re taking about treatments for our pets things get pretty personal, and it’s easy to get offended by advice that seems so simple.

Whether you intend to or not that advice can make us feel like we just haven’t tried hard enough, that we’re making rash decisions, and that that we just haven’t been doing anything right.

I’m not saying that advice isn’t helpful, often it is. I’m just saying that if you’re going to be giving advice regarding medical treatments or anything deeply personal you might want to be careful about your phrasing.

There’s a big difference between saying “this works because my dog is fine” and “maybe this would work for your dog since it worked so well for us.”

Medication can improve your dog’s quality of life while training is taking place and can make that training work more quickly and effectively. – Myth: Anxiety Medication Should Only Be Used as a Last Resort, Paws Abilities Dog Training

If Your Dog Has Anxiety You Have my Sympathies

The 4th of July is a shitty day for pets, and it’s a stressful day for many of us pet owners because of all the chaos. It’s estimated that at least 40% of dogs experience noise anxiety, and for some that anxiety can be severe.

If your dog suffers from severe anxiety you have my sympathies. It’s a horrible condition to try to manage, and the judgments you’ll receive if you even mention medication will make you feel ten times worse.

And if someone tells you that there’s an easier way to treat your dogs anxiety don’t take it personally. Not everyone understands how severe anxiety can be. You know your dog best, and if you see them suffering you’re the one responsible for finding a way to ease that pain.

I don’t judge you for medicating your anxious dog. I’ve been there, I’ve seen the suffering. I’ve seen my own dog go through it, and I’ve seen other dogs break through windows because of it. It can be brutal.

Sometimes using anxiety medication is the most humane option available.

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