Written by Senior Editor Peter Gehr
Sudden dog behavior changes may mean health issues are present in your puppy. Of course, every time your pet acts abnormally it doesn’t always mean that there’s anything wrong at all, but the point of this article is to help you be aware and to keep track of any early warning signs that may be revealing themselves.
Dogs, and especially puppies are developing and learning all the time, and they are often experimenting with their bodies as to how fast they can run, how quick they can turn, how much they can eat, and a myriad of other developmental behavior that you will notice from the day your puppy enters your home—not to mention the funny antics and hilarious games they play.
Sudden Dog Behavior Changes May Mean Health Issues
Martin Deeley, a dog training expert expounds on some important points:
When you feel under the weather or have a disease of any nature, other people notice it. Your behavior, attitude, body language, and facial expressions change. Your friends may tell you, “You are not your usual self.” You may feel nervous in certain situations, irritable even aggressive and you may also make mistakes that you would not normally make. Plus, other behaviors can emerge that you have never had before. This can be the same for your dog.
Let’s look at some of the potential medical issues that could be causing your dog’s behavior problems:
Your dog could encounter hormonal imbalance and an increase in thyroid abnormalities for some dog breeds. With today’s technology, we do have the advantage of being able to identify these abnormalities much more easily and conveniently. Fearfulness, aggression, and altered brain function are some of the symptoms of hypothyroid disease. I personally had a young pup that tested normal, but she was continuously losing her fur and was not acting as I expected. A discussion with a good friend, who is also an excellent nutritionalist and has vast experience both in training, behavior and physical causes of bad behavior, advised me to change my dogs diet and to ask my vet if he would consider a low dose thyroid medication. You could also ask your vet to expand the thyroid panel, before attempting thyroid drug trial. (Such a trial can have hyperthyroid effects if there really is normal thyroid function). My vet agreed and recommended a low dose, which improved my dog’s condition dramatically over two weeks.
Parasites can create internal disorders and these are often the prime cause of behavior changes. Therefore regular worming for parasites is essential, especially heartworm. It has not been uncommon for me to notice a client’s dog has tapeworm when they come in for Board and Train. The owners did not realize there was an infestation because either they had not made an effort to pick up the feces immediately, or the dog had defecated in bushes where they never saw it.
Tapeworm is more easily identified. It shows mainly first thing in the morning where it can be seen quite clearly as what looks like moving white rice grains in the feces. Some breeds can experience chronic bowel syndrome, pancreatitis and have food allergies. In fact, we are seeing more allergies that create skin problems and internal disorders more today than ever before. The discomfort can initiate unpleasant behaviors.
Heart problems, bacterial and viral diseases, and stress can also play a part in affecting a dogs behavior. Pain and discomfort is probably the most common reason for unwanted behavior. I started off by saying we do not behave as we normally would when we are feeling ‘under the weather’ or in pain, and your dog is no different. (Original story here)
Sudden dog behavior changes may mean health issues, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them if repeated or uncharacteristic behavior continues. No need to run to the vet every time your puppy hiccups, but if an active puppy is acting lethargic, or a passive puppy acts aggressive for no apparent reason, these may be signs of problems that you need to address. A dog cannot tell you he is sick in words, but he can certainly tell you by his actions.