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Use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs

Sharon L. Crowell-DavisDepartment of Anatomy and Radiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Lynne M. SeibertAnimal Emergency and Referral Center, 19511 24th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036.

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Wailani SungDepartment of Anatomy and Radiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Valli ParthasarathyDepartment of Anatomy and Radiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Terry M. CurtisDepartment of Anatomy and Radiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs.

Design—Prospective open clinical trial.

Animals—40 dogs with storm phobia.

Procedure—Dogs received clomipramine at a dosage of 2 mg/kg (0.9 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 3 months; then 1 mg/kg (0.45 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks; then 0.5 mg/kg (0.23 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks. Alprazolam was given at a dosage of 0.02 mg/kg (0.009 mg/lb), PO, as needed 1 hour before anticipated storms and every 4 hours as needed. Desensitization and counter-conditioning were conducted at home by the caregiver with an audio simulation of storm sounds that had induced a fear response during evaluation.

Results—30 of the 32 dogs that completed the study had a degree of improvement, as measured by caregivers' global assessment. Two caregivers considered the storm phobia to be resolved. Panting, pacing, trembling, remaining near the caregiver, hiding, excessive salivation, destructiveness, excessive vocalization, self-trauma, and inappropriate elimination all decreased significantly during treatment. Improvement was greater during true storms (rain, thunder, and lightning) than during rain only. Response to audio simulation did not change during treatment. Four months after the study, improvement was maintained.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The combination of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification can be effective in decreasing or eliminating storm phobia. Improvement could not be evaluated by use of audio simulation of a storm. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003; 222:744–748)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate use of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification for treatment of storm phobia in dogs.

Design—Prospective open clinical trial.

Animals—40 dogs with storm phobia.

Procedure—Dogs received clomipramine at a dosage of 2 mg/kg (0.9 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 3 months; then 1 mg/kg (0.45 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks; then 0.5 mg/kg (0.23 mg/lb), PO, every 12 hours for 2 weeks. Alprazolam was given at a dosage of 0.02 mg/kg (0.009 mg/lb), PO, as needed 1 hour before anticipated storms and every 4 hours as needed. Desensitization and counter-conditioning were conducted at home by the caregiver with an audio simulation of storm sounds that had induced a fear response during evaluation.

Results—30 of the 32 dogs that completed the study had a degree of improvement, as measured by caregivers' global assessment. Two caregivers considered the storm phobia to be resolved. Panting, pacing, trembling, remaining near the caregiver, hiding, excessive salivation, destructiveness, excessive vocalization, self-trauma, and inappropriate elimination all decreased significantly during treatment. Improvement was greater during true storms (rain, thunder, and lightning) than during rain only. Response to audio simulation did not change during treatment. Four months after the study, improvement was maintained.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The combination of clomipramine, alprazolam, and behavior modification can be effective in decreasing or eliminating storm phobia. Improvement could not be evaluated by use of audio simulation of a storm. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003; 222:744–748)