I posted this in the senior section but think I might get more response in this section.
My senior lab who will be 12 on June 8th has been acting anxious lately. She pants alot when I go out and leave her with the rest of the family. She is very scared of thunder and lightening storms and fireworks.
She will always settle if I take her to the basement where she can't hear any noises that bother her.
Our concern right now though is the unsettled behaviour if I go out . She hasn't had a change in her diet. It has been worse since she was at the vet last week for her shots. Her blood work was done for a senior wellness and it came back "perfect".
Can you describe a bit more the ages of "the rest of the family" and their previous relationships (how much they've given her commands, play with, sleep with, train, feed, etc.) your senior lady?
My Bess was always nervous in thunderstorms to the point I asked my physician to prescribe 5 mg. Valium to give her during particularly bad ones. Those pills helped ease her severe shaking and anxiety.
There are some recordings of thunderstorms you could use to desensitize her by playing at very soft levels and then gradually increasing the intensity while doing something antithetical to anxiety -- such as eating. But you should get expert guidance on using such a procedure because it would be awfully easy to attach the anxiety of the thunderstorm to the eating situation and thereby create an anorexic Lab instead of attaching the peacefulness and satisfaction of a full stomach to reduce the anxiety from the sounds of the storm.
I think it'd be worthwhile to contact a behaviorist, such as Dr. Patricia McConnell, and see if she has any booklets that give a protocol for a therapeutic intervention for the things she's experiencing. From your very brief description, what she's experiencing sounds a bit unusual.
Our Lhasa became this way when she hit about 13. We never found an answer so I can offer you no help. Not sure if what she was going through was the same as what your dealing with, I just know it sucked! Part of me just thinks it was some senility setting in.
You know, it is true that dogs go through similar "senility" stages as we do. Aside from senility, as they get older, if they can become more sensative to their surroundings and things that never used to make them nervous will because they don't hear the same or see the same as they used too. As long as it doesn't get worse and isn't keeping you and your family from going about your normal daily lives, I wouldn't worry about it. Watch her closely. If she starts getting worse (seems more confused than usual, seems to be forgeting commands) let your vet know! Recently there have been cases of dogs that go through a disorder called "cognitive disfunction syndrome" and the symptoms are similar to alzheimers. From what you have described, I sincerely doubt that is what your dog has, if your dog has anything at all, but if on the off chance she does, if you catch it early, there is a type of treatment that has been really helping in most cases. Good luck! I've got a 10 year old myself...
A couple of things we figured might be bothering her other than the thunder and thought we would try a couple of things.
We are in the process of selling our house and have had her kennel in and out of the kitchen during open houses. We brought it back into the kitchen and she has been in it for a while today looking very happy.
Also, I added a bit of chicken to her kibble today as she was having canned but with the recall I stopped it. Again, she isn't panting anymore all the time. Also she was fine when I went out today, no upset at all.
So, maybe she wanted her kennel back in the house or maybe she wanted more meat.........I don't know but at the moment she is back to her old self.
There are supposed to be some thunderstorms this weekend so I am going to for sure be prepared and do a lot of things in the basement where she will be happy and not hear them.