Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The toddler as a personal recorder... and canine thunderstorm anxiety

So, our son is developing quite a vocabulary.  Fortunately, my husband and I don't use foul language (I actually have been made fun of for how "clean" my language is, especially for the veterinary field.)    We have known for a while about his excellent hearing skills.  (say "cookie" a room away and I guarantee you he will hear it).  We have gotten into the habit of spelling out words, but there have been times where we almost think he has figured out how to spell his favorite words.  We are in trouble.  We also have been trying to teach him Spanish, and they do so at daycare, so I'm not sure that even if my husband and I try to talk in Spanish we can talk without him understanding.

The other day, my son was happily playing in the other room with his basketball, so I was trying to share a story from work with my husband about a client who was unhappy with another doctor.  I was explaining to my husband that I never threw the doctor under the bus and that the client was being unreasonable.  My son comes happily in singing "Mommy throw doc under the bus- Mommy throw doc under YELLOW bus."

Oh, the things kids will say.  I'm not sure that I'm looking forward to that age 3-5 period when they are brutally honest about everything.  We'll see how we make it through that one.

Diet update- Being our anniversary week, I wasn't really good about eating that well this weekend (I mean, you go out to a fancy restaurant, you are going to get more than just a salad...)  I was proud of myself though that at our favorite taco place where I always get 3 tacos- I cut myself back to two and I'm also happy that I convinced my meat-and-potato husband to try a Thai recipe this week.  I will let you know how that goes...

Garden update- tons of lettuce, a fair amount of kale, two tomato plants that I almost think I need to hang string from the floor above because they have overgrown their tomato cage.  My watermelon plant looks rather scraggly and so do a couple of my other plants.  I can't really blame them, 90 degree weather will make you kind of look scraggly- human or vegetable...

Pet update- with it being thunderstorm season I find a lot of my canine patients (and strangely, one feline patient) have thunderstorm anxiety (and 4th of July time can make it hard too with all of the fireworks).  My dog Dewey (the 60 pound Rottie/Shepherd/Lab that is submissive to the 6 1/2 pound cat with no claws), just recently developed thunderstorm anxiety.   Last year, while at our family cottage, the power went out after a tree had fallen on the cottage next door.  Since that time, he has been VERY anxious when there is even a storm in the air.  He gets clingy and trembles.  It's very sad looking.  I had occasionally used "doggy valium" with him, but then you have a 60 pound dog who behaves like a drunken college student (quite difficult with all the stairs we have in our townhouse).  I have recommended "thunder shirts" to clients before, they seem to work in a couple of cases, but some dogs it makes them more anxious.  The "doggy valium" isn't very effective either because you have to:

  • give it 2 hours before a thunderstorm (we don't always know when one is coming)
  • be home at that time to give it at the appropriate time
I also will suggest aromatherapy- lavender is calming for humans as well as canines and felines.  DAP or Adaptil is a doggy pheromone that is similar to the feline equivalent (Feliway) which can be helpful for all sorts of anxiety.

Counterconditioning is also important.  This involves designating a "safe" spot in your house for your dog to go to when frightened.  Condition them to be relaxed and that treats and lots of attention occur when they are in this spot.  During the winter (when there are not thunderstorms to worry about), play thunderstorm "music" at the lowest volume that they tolerate and with positive feedback (food and attention rewards), slowly build their tolerance up to this.

I also have been trying a product called Zylkene.  It is over the counter and can be used for a lot of different forms of anxiety.  It is not a medication, and it not very strong (it is a nutritional supplement), but it has a compound in it derived from milk that can be calming.  They actually make some prescription formula "calming" foods and this is one of the ingredients in those.  So far, I've used it twice this week and my dog has appeared at least a little more comfortable.  I'll have to see how it goes as thunderstorm season continues...

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