Hello, as a licensed veterinarian I am happy to assist you.
I am sorry to hear that Sparky has not been acting like himself. I am a bit worried about him, as these signs can suggest a health problem.
The signs you note are very nonspecific so it is difficult for me to say exactly what is causing them, but here are some possibilities I would worry about:
- Any condition that causes pain or discomfort can cause the signs you note
- Endocrine disorders can cause panting and similar changes in behavior
, as the hormones in the body that affect a variety of body systems and mood become out of balance. Some routine bloodwork at his vet's and potentially an endocrine work-up (more bloodwork essentially) may be worthwhile
- Conditions that affect sight can cause changes in behavior and nervousness: a thorough eye
exam would also be worthwhile. Since dogs can be quite good with getting around environments they know while losing their sight (as they have memory of where furniture is), it can be difficult to catch when they first start to have vision issues. However, loss of vision can be scary and stressful and can make animals more nervous and even unpredictable.
- Cognitive dysfunction or other disorders of the brain
: Cognitive dysfunction typically starts effecting dogs older than Sparky but can happen in dogs his age. It's similar to dementia and Alzheimer's in people and can cause changes in personality and behavior due to age-related changes in the brain. There is a medication that can help with this condition. Other changes in the brain including infectious and inflammatory diseases (meningitis for example), strokes, or even brain tumors
can cause similar signs.
Many of these conditions are treatable or manageable, so a thorough exam by his vet to check for them will allow for the appropriate treatment and hopefully get Sparky back to being his usual self.
***Lastly, I do want to include a very serious and important caution: the signs you note can also be consistent with rabies
, which as I am sure you know is 100% fatal to both dog and human (once clinical signs develop). If Sparky is not up to date on his rabies vaccine and/or has had any possible exposure (exposure to any wildlife essentially), I strongly urge you to get him to a vet immediately for evaluation for both his and your safety.***
Thank you for your question- I hope you find this information useful. Please feel free to respond with additional questions. Once you are satisfied with my answer please remember to rate my answer so I receive credit for my time.
All the best to you and Sparky,