Monday, December 12, 2011

Part 3: Is Your Dog Anxious? Let's Review Composure Calming Treats

Update May 2013: I noticed this entry was getting some traffic, so I felt I should post a quick update about how well Composure calming chews work when the going gets tough. We were doing really well with Composure for a long time. As Desmond's dog-related anxiety and leash reactivity got worse, we had to up the dosage on the chews, to about 5 at a time. After Hurricane Sandy hit and left us displaced, his anxiety and reactivity continued to worsen, his separation anxiety returned, and Composure completely stopped having any effect on him. We have since switched to both Xanax and Prozac in combination, which you can read more about here and here.


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NOTE: this post is part three of a three-part series about anxiety issues we've faced with desmond. part one can be found here. part two lives here.

today is your lucky day. i am not going to string you along and force you to read all my blather before telling you the good news that Composure chews work.

they freakin work!

go get them right now--you don't even need your vet to do it. (well, you should definitely at least consult your vet, but i mean you can buy these things online, not just as the vet's office. and they are cheaper online anyway.)

your luck doesn't run out there! here's a random photo of desmond being cute with his daddy, just because:



back to business.

these chews help desmond with his night restlessness (not that he's sleeping through all the way, but i'll take waking up once or twice over waking up every hour)...

and when we are getting ready to go out without him at a non-work-exit time (he has much more of a problem with us leaving at random times, if we're off, or on weekends than he does every morning when we head to the train. i guess he's used to that routine, so something out of the ordinary makes him nervous. don't worry, des! we'll always come back for you!)...

and in the car. to an extent. i think we'll need to work on some counterconditioning and see if that helps him more, but he was definitely more calm in the car than i've seen him be in months. (even when he saw a dog outside, his vocalization was toned down. super awesome.)...

and when we need him to be calm and still because he has a boo boo, like he did yesterday after he came back in from running around in the yard. his paw pad by the dew claw (i like to call that his thumb) got cut somehow out there (joey thinks that perhaps it happened when desmond kind of stopped short/slid to a halt on the new concrete) and the whole top of it came off more or less (technically, it's still attached, but barely. it's going to fall off, for sure.).

side note: i just noticed i'm using a lot of parenthesis today. is that really annoying? i'll try to stop. more random pics of desmond? why certainly!

here he is helping me fold a tarp

what a pal!
end side note.

desmond didn't even notice his boo boo until we made an attempt to clean it up and cover it, which is when he got really worked up--the usual, with the shaking and crying and teeth grinding. this time, he also tried to run away. normally, he has no problems with us fixing him, and he's never had a problem with the antiseptic drops or the liquid bandage before, but yesterday he wasn't having it. into the mouth three stress-reducing chews went. three is one more than the two a 55-pound dog would normally get, but the vet told us we could give him an extra if we ever needed it for an exceptionally stressful experience.

unfortunately, these things take about 30 minutes to kick in, so they were no help at all while i was playing clara barton, and all the fidgeting while joey had desmond corralled upside down in his lap made for a pretty sad looking wrap on desmond's leg that fell right off as soon as des stood up.


soon enough, a magical thing happened: desmond went off to happy land.

he wasn't passed out (yet) but just relaxed and pleased looking. he chilled out on the couch like it was the softest cloud in all the universe. he seemed thoroughly content. he was like this for hours, until the treats made him too tired to stay awake anymore and then we watched him try to fight it off for a few minutes. it was kind of cute and kind of sad. poor guy. i would not "drug" him up with the extra treat just for kicks or so he'll simply calm down and leave me alone for a while, but this was necessary. we needed him to let us properly take care of his leg and we needed him to not be attempting to run around and play fetch.

so, things are working out great so far with Composure. hooray!

what's very interesting to me is that these treats have less thiamine in them than any of the previous store-bought varieties we've tried--and we thought thiamine was the It Factor. apparently, it's this fancy colostrum calming complex instead:

[2012 update: it is neither of those things--but the l-theanine that really does the trick. also, after switching vets, we found out that a dog of desmond's size and anxiety level actually needs approx. 100mg of the stuff and it should be in his system at all times. wowza. so we are now giving him 5 chews a day]
see? fancy. so fancy that if i wanted to type it here, i'd have to go look up the HTML to make it happen, which i am feeling far too lazy for on this oh-my-gosh-it's-almost-time-for-my-week-off-after-christmas-i-am-so-close-will-i-make-it? monday.

not to say that thiamine is not associated with stress reduction--it surely is--but we've been missing the mark the whole time. this must be why i don't get paid the big vet money. also because i am not a vet.

random bonus of Composure chews? they smell delicious, which is a nice change from most treats. i have been tempted to quickly touch my tongue to one and give it a little taste, but i can't bring myself to do it. i'm sure joey would eagerly volunteer to munch on some if anyone would like to request a human sampling and review.

they don't look half bad either--and desmond absolutely loves them. win-win.


on christmas eve, we'll be going on another over-an-hour drive, and i'm seriously considering giving desmond that extra calming treat for the trip. last time was just awful. i think we all had a headache by the time we got to thanksgiving. between that and the new Roadie we got, i'm hoping we'll have found a working combination that will keep everyone in the car safe and feeling fine.

if any of you decide to try the treats at home with your pup, please do let me know how it worked out for you! i hope it yields the same results.


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