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Anxious at night time.

Species: Dog
Breed: Shih Tzu
Age: 5-8 years
Okay, So this is a slightly weird question but it is one that is extremely pressing
We have 2 Shih Tzu's, Molly & Max, That we have had basically no issues with, until a few months ago, When out the blue, Molly changed totally, Not in the day time, in the day she is totally normal, absolutely fine, responds to call well (always has) However at around 2am, every night, she suddenly becomes this different dog, it is seriously becoming an issue, it is 6am in the morning and I am writing this message because I'm unable to sleep (Due to the noise), Okay, so to explain, well, basically she scratches at the back door to go out, however where it gets so cold we can't let her out (The times when she gets out, she sits, for hours, shivering from the cold not moving). She begins to pant as well, as soon as it gets late, and the worst thing is, she suddenly stops acknowledging you, like totally, you can yell, offer treats , and you get absolutely no response, when in the day, she is pretty obedient, She also tries to lock her self in the utility room by wedging the door shut, and then scratches on the door, the only thing is, once you come down stairs (We've tried ignoring for days with no luck) she continues to pants and stratch, and spends her time scratching at the front and back doors, We've been extremely patient with it and have tried both positive and negative reinforcement, we've tried taking her on walks before bed, we've tried everything, but it is absolutely beyond our capacity to deal with anymore, She also tries to pull down the baby gate we have at the bottom of the stairs and cries at it, Our other shih tzu, Max, is totally fine, She has never had any anxiety before, and it doesn't appear to be the case now, we've even tried to offer her her favourite treats to see how unresponsive she becomes, and she doesn't even sniff it, Literally no response,

A friend of ours suggested a parasite of some kind

please help!

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so sorry to hear that you're dealing with this odd behavior all of a sudden. Your dog sounds like she is quite distressed.

I can't say that this is a normal behavior. And it isn't one that I would say I have seen commonly.

It seems that for some reason your dog is super anxious at night time. One possible reason would be if she was experiencing some pain. For example, many shih tzus will have back pain and it can be much worse at night time.

Another possible reason for anxiety at night time would be if she is losing her vision. Many dogs can lose their vision and it can be obviously much worse in low light levels. I wonder if she would be any better if you put her in a bright room when this is happening?

It's also possible that there is some unknown reason for the anxiety. Who knows, perhaps she heard a loud noise or had some sort of fright at night time and she is expecting it to happen again.

If this were my case I would first off be doing what I could to check your dog's vision. But, unfortunately if there is a vision problem there is likely not much that can be done to fix it. And then, I would probably be recommending a trial of medication. The first thing I might do is try her on an anti-inflammatory drug for a couple of nights to see if that makes a difference. If so, then pain would be the most likely culprit. Your vet will also do a physical exam and perhaps they can uncover something like back pain.

If the anti-inflammatory didn't do the trick then I'd probably be prescribing an anti-anxiety medication such as Reconcile or Clomicalm. These can take some time to start working, but usually they do work well. If things improve, then, after a few weeks or months you can probably wean her off of the medicines.

I hope things look up soon!

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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