Ok, I sort of hate even asking this.

Jack was to the vet today. My boy is absolutely fabulous, a bomb-proof dog who is afraid of very little and bothered by nothing. He's a therapy dog who happily trots through big groups of wheelchairs. He is fantastic with strange dogs, wonderful with noisy, awkward toddlers, calm in a crowd. When we go to the vet, he lays down calmly in the waiting room, nearly pulls me through the door when it's time to go back and see the nice people in the exam rooms, and happily greets the vet when he enters the room.

And then he goes up on the table. Ah, bless his furry heart, he's terrified. Maddie (who was not raised by me) is calm as calm can be on the table. She lays down. She relaxes. But Jack? He gets increasingly panicky. The vet is very good and even managed to scrape his teeth, but by the time we're done Jack is shaking, heart racing, eyes wide, trying to scramble backwards off the table.

He's always been this way. It's not for lack of trying. I can brush him easily, but I put him on a sit-stay and don't hold him while I do so. I can brush his teeth and clean his ears no problem, but again I'm not holding him steady to do so. He grumbles when I towel his belly. He will not let me turn him onto his back, no matter how gentle I am. He does not much care for laps. And despite all the peanut butter and patience (and Dremmel nail-grinders) in the world, I cannot do his nails.

Which brings me to the tranquilizer question. The vet was examining him thoroughly because he was limping (Jack was there for an annual, not because of the limp, but by sheer coincidence I came home early from work to take him to the vet and found a lame dog). I commented to the vet that I can't do his nails. Luckily he walks on pavement a lot and they stay short-ish, but if I ever had to do them I'd be in trouble.

The vet suggested that if I ever need to do that sort of work on him, I can give him a mild tranquilizer. The vet did not say "You need to work with him more" or "he's being disobedient." He said (and this made me feel tremendous relief, because I've always thought of this as a training failure on my part) "He's claustrophobic. A lot of dogs are."

Ahhhh, now it all makes sense. Trust me, I know the difference between Jack throwing a stubborn fit (which he is perfectly capable of) and Jack panicking, and when forcibly confined, he panics. Yes, I realize this could have serious consequences if he's ever injured, but nothing I've done training-wise has helped.

Which brings me back to the drugs. Has anyone here used a mild tranquilizer to work on a dog? He gave me a few tablets of acepromazine, 10mg (which is about the lowest dose for my 34-pound dog).

The funny thing is, I thought nothing of asking for a valium when I needed an MRI, because I know that I am a bit claustrophobic. But I feel really a bit weird about giving one to my dog to, say, do his nails. Everything you read says this is a training issue, yet I don't really think it is in this case.

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Beth, you have two awesome corgis, you rescued one and you treat them with love and care. If it feels right to you I would not question it, you have well behaved, healthy corgis and anyone and anydog can have mental health issues that cannot be controlled by training and love. I have given my Maxx tranquilizers every fourth of July, he got so out of control that he would run back and forth for hours with eyes wild and crazy.
Bubba, our rescue corgi, has been with us a year now, and is terrified of thunderstorms and fireworks. Our vet recommended Benadryl, but we've yet to give him any. Summer in Atlanta is giving him lots of experience with thunderstorms and he's coping better now. It's reassuring to read about your experience, Beth; and to know other vets agree about the tranquilizer option. We may use something next New Years Eve.
Sparty panics in a few different situations. Especially at the vet! I tried tranquilizers but do not remember the dosage. He was just a lethargic panicky dog so I finally stopped giving them to him. I take him to the vet to have his nails clipped also. You may remember that he has had issues with a toe nail that almost annually needs to removed due to a damaged nail bed. It is usually very painfull and contributes greatly to his panic. I noticed that while he shakes, pants etc the minute we walk out he is fine. He also has a problem in the car and it is the same thing, the minute he is out---Fine. I decided that for the short panicky time it was not worth tranquilizing him. How is Jack when you leave the vet? If he gets over it quickly maybe he will be better off without. I have had a couple people say training issue to me too but I am over being guilty over it! I know from raising my kids that not everything is that simple! Either way if you tranquilize or not do not feel guilty! You are just trying to do the best thing for him. And that is a good thing.
Thanks for your kind words.

Just to clarify, I would probably not tranquilize him for a vet visit under normal circumstances; panicky or not, I think it's important for the vet to see him with normal vital signs and normal reactions. I might consider it if, say, he needed an x-ray or some bloodwork done.

What I was considering is giving him a pill if I need to do a nail at home. Most of his nails stay short most of the time, but if the weather's been bad, or there's a lot of snow, they will temporarily get a bit long. Also sometimes he gets one that's a bit jagged.

I have a friend who needs to tranquilize her daughter's horse every time she needs to be shod, because she otherwise freaks out. This is a kid's horse, kind and easy to handle, til it comes to getting those feet done.

I think sometimes with dogs we have a tendency to view everything as a training issue, even though we know from experience that some things are just personality.

I do Maddie's nails and Boo's nails, and used to do Alice's, all with no problem. It's just this particular dog wigs out when you try to keep him closely confined.
Hi Beth,
First I confess..... I suffer a little from "AADD" so I have a difficult time reading ALL the posts. So I may have missed some of the comments people had in response to your original post.

Here's what I did get from reading your post. Jack is fine going to the vet, he's fine when he gets there, he's even fine being led back to the exam room. But..... when he gets up on the table he freaks!! That is where I can offer my observation from my experience with Griffyn.

Griffyn is afraid of heights!! He has been that way since the day we picked him up from the breeder! He is all chuckles and smiles as long as he's on the ground but if we have to pick him up for any reason he turns stiff as a board and then grabs hold of my shoulder with his front feet and hangs on for dear life!!! I thought it was a bit crazy at first, but over and over again his reaction to things of height: fear of going up stairs, being lifted into our Pilot ( I traded it for an Odyssey van so he could jump in on his own) being put on the vet exam table have confirmed to me that he is indeed afraid of heights.

So..... although I can't speak to the nail issue. I would suggest to you that the next time you bring Jack to the vet for his exam..... ask your vet to examine him on the floor. Our vet has done this for Griffyn and it made a difference. Maybe it will help Jack!
Oh Beth...I know how you feel! Wynn is perfect the whole time at the vet till he gets on the table and then he turns into some other dog...he crabs, carries on and is awful. The second he gets off the table he is again the official greeter. There is nothing I can do either but I know if I would ever have to take him in for more than a quick physical I would have to sedate him! One time when he had a sore leg and the Dr. was checking it out, the vet also said to do more we would have to sedate him! The last time we were there I was the one opening his mouth so the vet could check his teeth! I believe it's like people and I for one don't really like doctors but I can at least reason with myself as to why I have to go!
Yep, that sounds like Jack. When I got him off the table, he shook himself off and sort of settled, though he was still a bit keyed up. But when we were leaving, he went right back to greeting everyone he saw. And then he heard another dog squealing and was ready to go bustling off to see if he could help out with the problem.

He's such a good boy. He never tries to bite, just tries so very hard to get away.
I remember all the issues you have had, and Tilda is fortunate she ended up with you because not many owners would continue to be so dedicated to a dog who needs so much extra support.

I have read that some dogs will escalate right through a tranquilizer, and others can get aggressive on that type of drug. So if I ever do use it, I will handle him myself and watch him very carefully.
I've never used tranquilizers, but I'm sure they're safe and if they are for the best, they just are.

I'm just really glad to find out the claustrophobic thing - whenever I see pictures of dogs being cuddled and held or sleeping in someone's arms I'm always shocked. Mine love to have a petting session, but even attempt to wrap your arms around them and they'll panic and run. They do let the vet trim their nails, but it's not without some drama - I can usually distract them to look at me while it's happening.
I have one of each. Maddie is a snuggler. She will try to burrow into you when you are petting her. I can carry her like a baby, flipped on her back.

Jack will come sit on my lap maybe once a week or twice a week, unless he's feeling sick or something and then he's more cuddly. He doesn't like having his head petted, and doesn't like if I lean over the top of him. He'll back up. If Maddie tries to crowd up to him, he makes noises of unhappiness and backs away.

Every now and then I get out my bathroom scale, stand on it and hold the dogs to weigh them. Jack HATES being picked up. Maddie sees that scale and starts shimmying her butt and bowing down to be picked up and held, and then she knows a treat is coming. Jack sees the scale and his ears go back. He tolerates my doing it, but frequently when I put him down he runs upstairs, in case I might get any ideas about picking him up again.

All this makes him sound like an anti-social dog, but he's not. He loves people. He follows us around and always wants to be near us. Just doesn't like anything to do with being snuggly.

With me and a vet tech both holding Jack, the vet managed to trim one nail before giving it up. The fear was he'd hurt himself with his rearing and struggling.
I might try something less drastic to start with, but if that didn't work, I wouldn't have a problem using a tranquilizer in emergency type situations, like an injury that needed to be treated ASAP. For example, I'd keep the tranquilizers around but try Rescue Remedy or Calm Caps (this is what I use for Brando's reactivity when he's going to be in high energy/high stress situations) for doing nails at home and see if that helps. Good luck!
Don't feel bad....I have to have Duncan sedated to do his nails also. He behaves quite a bit like Jack. He has a panic attack when at the vets. They can pet him and fuss over him, but then he's on the table and the exam starts, he gets wild eye terror look also. So, he gets a sedation shot about 3 times a year. I had the vet assure me that it wasn't harmful to him. Of course, during that time, I have them do his nail, take any blood work needed, clean his ears and anything else that he should have during a physical.

Duncan is also pretty well behaved. He listens to commands of sit, stay, wait and come. So, he's not having a stubborn streak when he acts up at the vets'; it's pure terror. Judy did have a great idea about height, but we tried the sitting on the floor and trimming the nails also. Still, just terror of the closeness of people. He's will lay on your lap, but don't try and hug him or confine him.


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