Elderly Dog Aggression

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Stacykins, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 19, 2011
    Escanaba, MI
    Well, she isn't too elderly, she is 11 and in great physical health. Ally is a beagle mix adopted about nine years ago. She never was thrilled with the presence of other dogs, but got along just fine in the pack. But recently, she has been dangerously aggressive towards the family's other canines as well as my pet cat (who she ignored until now). It is both territorial, food, and displaced (like if she is barking at a bunny outside, and another dog comes to the window to check it out, she attacks the dog). Just today, when my cat came to me for some affection, Ally charged Tonks and chased her up the Christmas tree, and that has never happened before. She was growling, baring her teeth, and barking like crazy. Yesterday, she attacked our 15 year old lab as he walked to the water bowl, and he freaked out and defended himself (falling in the process, I could tell he was hurting after all the energy dissipated after the fight). I pulled them apart and got bitten by one of them in the process, but once Ally was in her crate, Noah was fine if not scared, his thick fur came in handy against her bites.

    The veterinarian rules out physical ailments. No broken teeth, arthritis, illness, hot spots, etc. that could cause her to act out because of pain. Also checked for a UTI, she is clean. Her eyesight and hearing is exceptional too.

    I honestly had to stop my father from taking her outside with a shotgun after she attacked his dog, when he came for a visit. But in the meantime all we can do is physically separate her in another room. We've tried to reintegrate Ally into the pack, but it only takes minutes before her fuse is lit. She has caused over 500$ in veterinary bills from fighting alone (not the health checkup to determine if she is hurting, but because of wounds she caused to the other dogs).

    I guess my problem is, is that I truly love that little dog. But at the same time, I can't handle the fact that this is going on. She is miserable if she is crated or kept in another room (even with another person), but if she is free then we have to hover to pull sparring dogs apart. Do you think it is wrong of me to consider asking the vet to euthanize her? Like I said, she is healthy, but around other animals is an unstable and unpredictable. Confining her for the rest of her life seems unfair, since it is her against three other dogs.
  2. stilldeb

    stilldeb Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2010
    NW Kentucky
    Wow, something seems to have happened to cause her to have a "mental status change". Could she have had some kind of stroke or be suffering from some mild dementia? I have had older dogs that have had strokes or become senile and it has affected their behavior a great deal. Her aggression is certainly a worry and no, I don't think it is out of the question to euthanize an aggressive/dangerous dog, which is what she seems to be becoming.
  3. Jamie_Dog_Trainer

    Jamie_Dog_Trainer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    Washington State
    Quote:No I think you are right to consider euthaizing her, however there might be some medication that would help her mental status. There are mental deficites does can have in old age just as in people, and there are dog medications for it too. It is worth googling "dog demensia medications" or "dog dementia behavior" to see if it fits what she is doing. Call your Vet and go in armed with this information to discuss it with him/her. It also could be small strokes called Transient Ischemic Attacks, they don't affect a human or dog in the same way a more serious stroke will, but you will notice the mental health failing, also will eventually notice balance problems, or other neurological symptoms such as circling, not 'knowing' how to lay down, ect.

    In the mean time you can only manage her. Keep her on leash or crated 100% of the time. I really feel for you and your poor dog (as well as your other pets) [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  4. Whitewinterwolf

    Whitewinterwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011
    I dont think its wrong to ask the vet to euthanize her, but like one of the other posters said, doggy dementia is a possibility.
    A small brain tumor also could be one.
    We had a Boston up to the ripe old age of 16, he used to go outside and get lost starting from the age of 9 *forgot to add that, sorry!*, he would forget who we were, and he would forget who the cat was and attack it.
    Perhaps she is getting something similar, getting lost when she gets riled and taking out her confusion on what ever is closest?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  5. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    I had a rottie who did this... Was so sad, he was only 11, and went crazy... Had to be put down, and I cried so much...but it was that or get worse...

    I wish they had doggie shrinks then. Was nearly 18 yrs ago... I'd see about dog mood stabilizers... Or Prozac...
  6. hdowden

    hdowden Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 14, 2011
    has she been checked for brain tummers and cancer in the brain as well? there could be something pushing on that part of her brain that causes that, pits are a good example of having brain issues that turn them into aggresive dogs, but if that is even ruled out and nothing else works then the kindest and safest (for you, your family, friends, and other pets) thing to do is have her put down and remeber the good times with her.
  7. Haloclimb

    Haloclimb Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'd definitely get her checked for a brain tumour. It sounds exactly like one of the examples in a dog book of mine-a normally loving dog started acting aggressive and viscious and would attack for no reason, even going so far as to start chewing it's own leg in the middle of a fight, mistaking it for the other dogs leg. When the dog was taken to the vets, they found out it had a brain tumour.
    Hopefully it's something that can be fixed for your dog, it'd be so sad for her to get put down!
  8. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    What kind of blood work did your vet do? A physical exam is a good start, but that alone can't rule out several common health problems that could cause aggression. My first thought was whether or not she had thyroid issues, as one of the symptoms is behavioral changes. It isn't the typical symptom, but I have seen several cases where we tested a dog's thyroid just on the off chance that maybe that could be a contributing factor to other issues (such as slow healing or chronic skin/ear infections) and have been surprised. The other thing that comes to mind is doggie dementia. Dementia is a diagnosis made by ruling out other causes and based on behavior changes. There are several medications out now that can be used to mitigate the effects of dementia in dogs, so it may be worth discussing this with your vet. Eleven is not ancient for a beagle, but it definitely qualifies her for senior citizenship.

    I've worked at my current job for 9 years now, and this year has been particularly hard on me with patient deaths because I'm starting to see dogs I met as puppies or young dogs enter their senior years and start to fail. One of the hardest this year was Jasmine, a dog that boarded frequently and was always a very sweet girl. She started attacking the other dog in the house, causing injuries that required vet visits. During the last fight, she bit one of the owners when they went to break up the fight and then continued to be very aggressive towards her. The poor woman couldn't even go into the same room without Jasmine snarling and lunging at her. Her owners loved her very much, and for her to do something so out of character for her something was definitely very wrong (we suspected a brain tumor but the owner could not justify the expense of the diagnostics to find out for sure and knowing wouldn't have changed the outcome anyway). They were left with no choice but to euthanize.

    Finally, if you feel that her quality of life is not what it should be and she is dangerous to your other pets (and you, getting bitten when breaking up a fight is no small thing, especially if the number of fights you need to break up are increasing!) it really is not unreasonable to consider euthanasia. I think euthanasia is the hardest when it is because of behavioral reasons, but the truth of the matter is that aggression and severe behavioral disorders decrease a dog's quality of life just as much as any physical ailment. If you step back and look at her quality of life and ask yourself, "if this were an apparent physical ailment (such as a cancerous tumor that you could see but couldn't remove surgically), would it be time?" then it may make it a little easier to see that it is not wrong to consider that with her happiness and quality of life disappearing with this dangerous behavior you may have limited options.
  9. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2011
    Not a dog behavior expert, just tossing in my two cents...
    Has anything else changed in her world? New people around - or someone missing? New animals in the house - or not? Or next door? Or passing by regularly? A change to her regular routine? Any of these could make her feel insecure and that could make her start to try and dominate the other members of her pack.
    Does she get enough exercise? Not just time in the yard - for my dogs, once they make a quick lap around the yard and bark a little bit to announce that they are out there, they mostly just lay in the sunshine, so being outside doesn't count as any activity at all for my guys. But does she get a nice long walk? It really does work some kind of miracle in their little minds. I have no idea how.
    A couple of years ago, I ended up with an old <OLD> lab. Long story short - owner died, frightened, un-socialized dog had to be caught, cowered in a corner for days and snarled at anyone who approached her - very sad - almost put her down. Managed to get a leash on her - which she wore 24/7 for days and days. I could grab the end of it and she would follow - unhappy, but follow. We walked every afternoon - about 2 miles. After a week or so, she stopped growling - at me, at the other dogs, at the cats. A few more days and we found her sleeping next to my chair in the den (instead of guarding her corner). It took a couple of months but she finally settled in and got her confidence back and relaxed. She lived 2 more happy years with us before a sudden attack of seizures took her away.

    Here's Millie, 'exercising' in the yard.

    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  10. hollyclyff

    hollyclyff Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2007
    We went through this with one of our dachshunds. He started around that same age, but it didn't get really bad until a couple of years later when he started growling and snapping at people too. My daughter was six years old at the time, so that was especially disturbing. Vet said it was advanced dementia. We tried medication, but unfortunately it didn't help with our dog and we eventually made the decision to euthanize him. It was very hard, but it was best for everyone including him. As my vet said, he really didn't have a very good quality of life if he was in that kind of mental state, even though he was relatively healthy physically. I would still try the medication if I had another dog with the same thing though because it does help some dogs and you don't know until you try. Assuming that's what's wrong with your dog that is.

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