Five Medical Problems That Could Make Your Dog Aggressive
It’s a scenario that every dog owner dreads; your lovable pet goes from adoring companion to snarling stranger with no warning, leaving you faced with the difficult choice of what to do next. But before you take any drastic actions, consider that your pet may be lashing out due to a medical condition instead of a vicious streak.
These five common health issues could be the source of your dog’s sudden aggression:
Like humans, dogs rely on their thyroid to regulate hormone production in their bodies. When the thyroid fails to produce enough of these hormones, a condition known as hypothyroidism, the dog experiences symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, hair loss and increased anxiety.
That anxiety can easily turn into aggression when the dog feels threatened. If your dog is exhibiting other symptoms of hypothyroidism, visit your veterinarian to conduct a blood test and begin treating this hormonal imbalance.
Hip and Joint Pain
Up to half of all large-breed dogs are prone to painful joint problems such as hip dysplasia and arthritis as they grow older. This pain typically presents itself as a dull ache, but movement or contact with the sore areas can cause a sudden, sharp jolt and an instinctive need to bite the offender. Children are especially vulnerable to this form of aggression after being too rough with an elderly dog.
Providing medication and establishing firm rules with kids can help manage your dog’s pain-related aggression.
Sometimes, a dog’s brain becomes inflamed or less efficient with age, leading to a loss of its ability to process and respond to information. This can make your dog confused, frightened and eventually aggressive. The most famous of these neurological conditions is rabies, but other brain damage such as hydrocephalus or dementia are much more common.
Your veterinarian can test your dog’s neurological responses to determine if this is the problem behind the aggression.
Loss of Sight and Hearing
Older dogs are likely to experience at least some deterioration of their senses, most notably their sight and hearing. Your dog may not notice you or another person approaching it, particularly while asleep, and may lash out in fear when startled. Always approach an elderly dog slowly and with plenty of warning to give it time to notice you and avoid a potential aggressive episode.
If you have recently put your dog on medication for a different health issue, the side-effects could be causing the unusual behavior. Steroids in particular can induce aggression in otherwise healthy and friendly dogs. For short-term medications, the problem may resolve itself once the course of treatment is over. If the medicine is intended to be long-term, speak to your vet about possible alternatives.
To learn more, contact a company like TLC For Pets with any questions or concerns you have.