ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Buddy, a really cute 2-year-old girl dog, lost her composure and released a bladder full of urine with almost any hint of excitement. When I met her, she was scanning the room, on the lookout for any possible threat to her well-being. She held herself somewhat low, her weight shifted back. Her tail hung at about 30 degrees below the horizontal. It didn’t move. Her ears were retracted. She was still under control, but not by a lot. Sweaty paws, to be sure.
I quietly invited Buddy and her mom to follow me to the exam room. As soon as I sat down, Buddy quickly began sniffing and investigating her new surroundings. These were good signs. The treats that I dropped and later handed to this curious dog further reduced her tension. We were doing OK. No urine had been spilled.
Buddy had lots of triggers for a bladder catharsis. Her dad arriving home from work, her people talking “sweetly” and either of them attaching a leash to her collar. She startled with quick movements and even sudden events on TV. She paced nervously and whined during car rides. She was always hypervigilant.
In addition to excitement/submissive urination, the growing list of triggers for Buddy earned her the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. She badly needed to abandon her angst. I told her mom to kill the TV when Buddy was in the room. Dad was to call or text before arriving home so Buddy could be put in another room. After he was seated, Buddy could approach him when she was ready.
Anxious dogs need security. No human was ever to approach, reach for, lean over or stare at Buddy. People needed to squat or sit, turn to the side and avoid looking directly at Buddy before inviting her to interact.
Buddy needed a little more help. Imipramine is a safe antianxiety medication that also causes moderate urine retention in the bladder. Rather than gushing at the drop of a hat, Buddy now stays calmer and drier. Everybody’s quality of life has improved. This well-loved dog now enjoys a more peaceful life.
Each week, Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com and also get the Emergency & First Aid guide. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Post behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.