Please HELP My Family!!

by Lenn
(Brandon MB Canada)

Cocker Spaniel Enjoying The Lush Grass

Cocker Spaniel Enjoying The Lush Grass

My 9-year-old Cocker, Jodi, was adopted by us three and a half years ago. She came with a myriad of skin, ear and eye conditions. She had ear ablation surgery on her left ear and takes herbs to control her skin condition.

She has eye drops, but her eyes are chronically dry and red and are sealed shut every morning with green gunk (this is the least of our concerns, although we would like a solution for this as well, nothing has helped thus far).

She is on a raw food diet 2/3c a day has been steadily gaining weight. I am feeding her to the requirements, and when I reduce her food allowance she becomes agitated and anxious.

Jodi has never slept through the night, she is always up 1-2 times for the bathroom. She now has been steadily creeping, anxious and agitated at night between the hours of 1 and 5 am and sometimes between 7 and 8 am!

She walks the floor, pants, and is so restless and unsettled. We have tried everything, she didn't come crate trained and we have failed with it. She just howls and screams for hours.

We have tried sedatives unsuccessfully as well as anxiety medication.

She has a recurring vestibular syndrome, her right ear which, previously, had been perfect has been chronically inflamed for the last 1.5 years.

We suspect the vestibular is linked directly to ear problems.

She still paws at her operated ear. Surgery was very difficult as the canal had calcified to bone.

Jodi is a very special girl to us and we want to get her sleeping at night and back to her 1-2 a night routine.

My husband sleeps on the couch as it is the only way we can get some sleep. She will sometimes sleep with him and cuddle to keep calm but some nights nothing works.

We are going to try melatonin but we are running out of options and fear we may have to put her down.

She is still happy, eating well, going to the bathroom as normal, and enjoying walks and car rides - it seems a shame to put her down just because she won't sleep at night.

Please help me!!

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hi Lenn,

I'm really sorry to hear about Jodi - I feel so sad for her, (and you and your family!). I'm certainly not a vet, but I've never heard of anything like this before.

I can't understand why she should be fine during the day but not at night. Because she's okay during the day, I suspect she's not in pain during the night. What does your vet think?

Personally, I would persevere with the crate training. Try it again and follow the advice given on this site - it won't happen overnight - you will have to help her get used to it very gradually, but it might just be what's needed to settle her. You'll find all you need in our article How to crate train a puppy.

Have you considered changing her diet to a prescription diet, recommended by your vet of course, or a good hypoallergenic kibble? It could help any skin condition she may have and the kibble may help to make her feel fuller. You can read more about the Cocker Spaniel diet here.

Give her plenty of water after her dinner but remove her water bowl after 7 pm. Assuming her 'waterworks' are okay, this may help to stop her peeing so much during the night - it could be what's causing her to wake too. I'm sure you're aware that older dogs can develop problems with their 'plumbing' and have had this checked out.

Just a thought - the panting and pacing isn't caused by underfloor heating or her being overheated is it?

If you're sure she's anxious and not in pain, you might like to wrap her in a blanket and hold her (just like you would a baby) as this is said to calm dogs down and make them feel secure and safe. (You can buy a piece of clothing, I think it's called a Thunderjacket which will do the same thing - just do a web search and you should find somewhere that sells them.

As far as Jodi's eyes are concerned, have you tried cleaning her eyes using olive oil-soaked cotton-wool balls? It may help if her eyes are dry.

Soaking cotton-wool balls in a saline solution or cucumber juice may help too. For the saline solution, dissolve half a teaspoon in half a pint of distilled water, and for the cucumber juice, puree half a cucumber and sieve through a soft piece of muslin, use the liquor and discard the pulp.

However, if this is a recurring problem, your vet should be able to get to the bottom of it quite easily and offer more suitable treatment.

Learn more about Cocker Spaniel eye problems and what to do about them.

I really don't know what else to say - other than I'm really sorry that I can't help you and your family any further.

I sincerely hope you get these problems resolved soon. Poor Jodi, please cuddle her from me.

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A Tale Of My Cocker Spaniel, Taffy
by: Patricia

I have only one suggestion you did not mention.

Sit down beside her and have a talk. Explain how things are with her and what worries you. Reassure her you are in this together.

After I did this with my Taffy, she stopped having accidents in the house.

She came to me at 4 1/2 years old after being abandoned three times. She barked all night. I was taking her out 6 times a day. No amount of medication helped her ear wax or skin lesions, especially under her front legs and down around her lady parts.

I started noticing Taffy communicating with me.

Before the oven timer went off, she would bark to let me know that the food was ready.

Before someone actually came to the door, she'd bark to tell me they were coming.

It turned out she is afraid of the dark so at night we keep on a light.

She used to 'shy' when I tried to pat her head and still snaps if a stranger does. It looks as if she is afraid she'll be hit.

Taffy is a pure-bread American cocker. She changed my life as hopefully I have changed hers. She responds so well when we sit down for a chat, I've made this a regular part of our routine. She travels everywhere with me in the car. She used to shift from foot to foot in the car. Now, she sleeps, plays with toys, looks out the window and lifts her head as if to say, 'look at me everyone!' She will see some people and begin barking and I assume it is because they remind her of someone. Sometimes she will stare in space as if she is remembering or wondering about her past.

I pamper her ridiculously and recently started cooking for her. She was on a prescription Hills diet that didn't produce healthy poop. I finally told the vet I was going to cook for her myself.

It's been less than a month but after the first few days it's like she's a new dog, most noticeably with text-book healthy poop. I cook her ground beef, chicken and salmon with chopped mixed vegetables and both sweet and white potatoes. I mix these in different combinations like I would for myself. I use just a pinch of salt and olive oil. Her mood is greatly changed and I'm sure it's for the better.

She is completely relaxed and quiet now, very little barking for any reason and unfortunately seems more independent aka less affectionate.

I keep hoping someone will recognize her so I can get filled in on her history. The vet recommended baths every other week. I have her groomed by a professional once a month but in between I lure her into the shower stall and once there, she knows to raise each leg for shampoo and a scrub.

When I get my nails into that scrubbing, all the gunk, crusts and other debri fall away. Good luck with your Jodi. Try talking with her. Explain how things are and how much it would mean to you if she were to get better.

Good luck,

Sleepless Cocker
by: Katie (Herts, UK)

Hi Lenn, I'm really sorry to hear about poor Jodi's problems. What lovely advice from Pauline! I would agree with everything Pauline suggests, and would add the following:

Is Jodi quite a nervous, anxious kind of girl normally?

Could her ear problems have made her more nervous, and could the night time anxieties be exhibiting as a form of separation anxiety?

I note you say your other half sleeps on the couch to try and comfort her. Would you consider taking the dog upstairs and trying to settle her in her own bed by the side of yours, so that she knows you are there? I know that allowing your dog to sleep upstairs goes against the grain with many people (me included!) but if it can help you and the dog get a full night's sleep it might be worthwhile.

If you try it, you may have to persist and if she gets up you will have to be firm but fair and put her back in her bed and then get back into yours without interacting with her, see if she gets it.

I sincerely hope you manage to find something that works, sleep deprivation is awful all round.

Best of luck with it.

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