Elephant and Valium
So this morning I gave our 41-year-old Asian cow oral diazepam (300 mg) to "take the edge off" while we were training her for trunk endoscopy.
She spent most of the day being mellow and "huggy" and quite tractable except not giving a shit when told not to do something (like grabbing tree branches). Several keepers commented they "had their old girl back"; meaning that in the past she used to be mellower and cuddlier, or maybe generally more in a good mood...
Now I realize these keepers may be viewing the past with rose-colored glasses, but maybe there is some truth to their recollections. I personally can't tell, as I've only been working here just over a year. But if it is true that she used to be in a generally better mood than currently, I wonder how we might be able to take her back to this better mood (presumably her "baseline") without recourse to habit-forming drugs...?
Background: This animal has abnormal posture, probably some degree of osteoarthritis, and severe dental malformations. We also suspect low-grade chronic pneumonia and/or heart disease. She is currently on daily glucosamine-chondroitin supplement and oral tramadol. I don't expect diazepam will have provided much in the way of analgesia, therefore I don't think the behavior changes are related to changes in overall comfort levels. (Although I suppose diazepam could be potentiating the analgesic effect of tramadol...)
I invite any thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Basically I am searching for a therapy that might provide long-lasting, non-habit-forming effects similar to that of diazepam...