Saturday, February 11, 2017

Update: Luxating Patellas and Behavior Modification

Welp, it looks like Delilah is going to need surgery for her knees.  We went to the vet recently and she was officially diagnosed with grade 3 bilateral luxating patellas.  We talked about treatment and management options and it was recommended that she has surgery in the next 6 months since she is young, fit, and it hasn't become inflamed yet.  The estimated cost of surgery for both knees is a little over $3,000!  I'm definitely going to be applying for care credit.

We also talked about increasing her fluoxetine to see if that will help with her Canine Compulsive Disorder.  We've been seeing some progress with Delilah's anxiety and behavior, but not really any improvement with her compulsive behaviors.  She's now on 5 mg of fluoxetine and we're also trying some CBD dog treats (made with hemp oil) as a supplement.  I was particularly interested in seeing if it would help with her anxiety, but CBD's supposed to be helpful for a number of ailments including arthritis and joint pain/inflammation, so I'm hoping it will help manage her knees as well until she gets surgery.

In terms of behavior modification, she is continuing to improve slowly.  My boyfriend's sister stayed overnight yesterday and it was the first time Delilah's experienced a "stranger" staying for so long.  At first she was very reactive and loud but I had her on a lead and did some counter conditioning and impulse control exercises with her and she soon quieted down enough to even relax on her bed in front of the fire place!  She was very interested in his sister and would go up to her, sit next to her, and even try to give her kisses, but then Delilah would remember that she was a "stranger" and get freaked out and run away barking.  She definitely wants to interact, she just gets so anxious.  But overall she did very well, she was very manageable and tried her best to listen to me and calm down.

In the morning we stayed in bed until his sister left.  Delilah would alarm bark if she heard her talking downstairs but easily quieted down after.  This is a huge change from before the medication and behavior consult, when she couldn't quiet down at all, and would just bark and scream until well after the guest had left.  

On a separate note, I just found out a trainer's offering Reactive Rover classes in my area.  I've been talking with him to see if the class would be appropriate for Delilah.  I feel like a class tailored to dogs with special needs like that could be a good step towards taking agility lessons again.  And maybe I'd learn some new techniques and ideas for helping Delilah manage her emotions and impulses.

I put Delilah's bed in front of the fireplace where it would be most comfortable for her and also give her some space from the "stranger."  We started "place" after she calmed down enough to work.  It took about an hour of counter conditioning (dropping treats) to get her to stop reacting and be able to focus enough to work.

Right now she is still nervous and alert but staying in her "place" because I asked her to (and because she's getting a lot of chicken).

After about 20 minutes she finally relaxed and napped by the fire.  This is incredible progress for her.  This is where practicing "place," Karen Overall's protocol for relaxation, and counter conditioning and desensitization to strangers is paying off!


  1. We'll be keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers. Love the wood floors in your home.

    Abby Lab and her Mom L.B.

  2. It looks like she is doing better. Sending you lots of good thoughts and prayers

  3. Hari OM
    Oh my word - the love and dedication from you must surely be having its effect too Meghan! This little girl is blessed to have landed in your care. Sending all love and best wishes for continued improvements and for the likely surgery. Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  4. I agree with Yamini, your dedication is amazing and I can see you are seeing improvements. That is exciting.

  5. You are doing such a great job with her. It is so nice to see her relaxed like that. Hopefully, there will be more relaxation in the future. I also, love the wood floors in your home.