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Vet help
Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
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Experience:  9 years experience as small animal vet, 19 years experience in the animal care field
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WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT BRAIN LESIONS IN A CANINE

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Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Peter Bennett, DVM replied 8 years ago.
HiCustomer

You need to give us a lot more information to work with.

What prompted the initial vet visit?
What was the diagnosis?, not the prognosis.

Put as much information as you have in a reply. I'll leave this open for any of the other vets here, as I may be gone later. It may be later today before someone replies.

Be patient and good luck.










Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to XXXXX XXXXX, DVM's Post: SHE HAS JUST STARTED BECOMING AGRESSIVE ABOUT 6 MONTHS AGO. BACK THEN I WAS TOLD NOT TO TRUST HER ANYMORE & TO WATCH HER CLOSELY. RECENTLY, THE AGGRESSIVENESS, TOWARDS MY 3YR OLD LAB-MIX, HAS INCREASED IN BOTH INTENSITY & FREQUENCY. YESTERDAY ALONE SHE ATTACKED 3 TIMES IN A MATTER OF 15 MINUTES, WITH NO FOOD OR TOYS AROUND. NORMALLY I SEPERATE THEM FOR A MOMENT & THEN THEY WERE FINE. BUT YESTERDAY, I KEPT TRYING AND SHE JUST KEPT ATTACKING. I WAS TOLD THAT A BRAIN LESION WILL ALTER THE PERSONALITY OF A DOG & THAT IT WOULD ONLY CONTIUE TO INCREASE. THIS NEW BEHAVIOR WAS NOT LIKE HER AT ALL. THE TWO HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS NOW. THEY HAD BEEN FINE UNTIL THIS. THEY WOULD PLAY & PLAY. I AM NOW AFFRAID FOR MY LITTLE DOG AND THAT SHE MAY BECOME AGGRESSIVE TOWARDS PEOPLE. MY GUT TELLS ME SOMETHING HAS CHANGED DRASTICALLY IN HER AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT MY OPTIONS ARE OR WHAT TO DO.
JUST THOUGHT OF SOMETHING, ARE THER ANY PEOPLE FOODS THAT COULD ALTER A DOGS PERSONALITY?
Expert:  Vet help replied 8 years ago.
While a lesion within the brain can certainly cause an altered personality and manifest as aggression, this is by no means the only thing that can do it and is actually fairly rare.
By Great Dane standards your dog is geriatric (average life span 6- 8 years) and is at a point where any number of health issues could be affecting her. I'd recommend, if you haven't already done so, that you have a thorough physical examination, complete blood count and chemistry profile performed. You should also have her thyroid level checked, as dogs with hypothyroidism have been known to exhibit aggression. I know few elderly Great Danes who aren't saddled with at least some pain from arthritis, so this may be an aggravating factor as well. A nice orthopedic examination can pinpoint any joint issues and getting her on the appropriate medication could alleviate any discomfort.
Once all medical issues have been explored, it's time to assess the situation between the 2 dogs. You didn't mention the sex of the Lab mix, nor did you mention if either dog were spayed or neutered. Interfemale aggression is perhaps the nastiest situation you will encounter, particularly if it's between two unspayed females. If the younger dog is intact, I'd advise having that one spayed or neutered.
You are in the uneviable position of having one dog that is elderly and one that is in the prime of its life. You mention the problem began at least six months ago. This may be because the Lab-mix had reached sexual and social maturity at that time. If your Great Dane is used to being the top dog, she may resent the threat posed to her position by a younger, healthier animal. This doesn't even need to be a real threat, it could just be perceived on her part. If she felt that she was losing her place in the hierarchy, there is the potential for her to become aggressive in defense of it.
Clearly your situation is dire as the ferocity of the attacks is escalating. Something needs to be done immediately or your little dog may be seriously wounded (or you if you try to break off an attack). I am going to post some recommendations taken from Larry Tilley's 5 Minute Veterinary Consult. These are things you can do to work on restoring some peace to your home. Please realize that in most cases the aggression is only managed, not cured, so this is a daily exercise for you if the animals are under the same roof. You must use caution in all your interactions with the 2 dogs together to ensure your own safety.
Tilleys:
Initiate the "nothing in life is free" protocol-
Step 1-
"Withdraw all attention from the dogs for 2 weeks".
That is, no hugs, kisses, special treats or toys, basic care only. This will help establish your position as leader and the dogs will be willing to work for your attention.
"List situations in which aggression occurs and devise a way to avoid these situations."
Step 2-
"Use non-confrontational means to establish your dominance over the dogs. Teach the dogs to reliably sit/stay on command in gradually more challenging situations. The dogs must acquiesce to you in order to obtain attention and other benefits. No free benefits- dogs must sit/stay before eating, being petted, going for a walk, etc. You must initiate all the interactions."
Step 3-
"Desensitize or countercondition by gradually decreasing distance between dogs while under leash control; reinforce acceptable behavior"

You should keep the dogs from having any contact with each other when they cannot be supervised, even for short periods. Try to determine which dog is dominant and then help to reinforce that dominance by feeding, giving attention and treats, etc. to that dog before the other.
It's important to use a head halter, lead and perhaps a muzzle on the dogs when they are together. This will enable you to more easily separate them should a fight arise.

If all her bloodwork is within normal limits, then you could also consider adding a behavioral modifying medication in conjunction with behavioral training. Usually this is beneficial in a situation like yours, when much is at stake.
You could ask your veterinarian which one would be most appropriate for your dog (suggestions include: amitriptyline, clomipramine, buspirone, and fluoxetine.
You may benefit from speaking to a veterinary behaviorist to see if they have any additional recommendations. Dr. Ann Beebe, a behaviorist at the University of Pennsylvania offers free consultations. You could have your veterinarian look her up ( I don't have her contact info) and see if she would be able to help.

You may find that nothing works and may have to decide to place one of the dogs in another home. A difficult decision, of course, but for safety's sake it could end up being the best one.

As far as determining if this is indeed a brain issue, the best test for that would be an MRI. It's quite expensive and you would likely need to travel as few hospitals have one. If you note other behavioral changes, such as aimless walking, head pressing (gets stuck in a corner and just presses her head against the wall), seizures, etc., these are signs often seen with severe brain lesions, like tumors. Treatment options would vary depending on the location and type of tumor; again, a specialist and an MRI or CT would be required to determine if surgery was an option. In general, brain tumors carry a guarded prognosis.
Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 2597
Experience: 9 years experience as small animal vet, 19 years experience in the animal care field
Vet help and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to RGK's Post: My Lab-mix is also female & they are were both spayed years ago, at around 1 year for each of them. I have already tried the positive reinforcement for good behavior & that I'm the boss. I am becoming more & more fearfull for the younger/smaller dog.

If these things don't work & since I don't have unlimited money, would putting her down be an option or would it be the wrong thing to do?
Expert:  Peter Bennett, DVM replied 8 years ago.
HiCustomer

I was hoping you would get the opinion of that veterinarian. I doubt you will get a better answer from anyone.

Please accept his answer, plus maybe a bonus ?, and consider becoming a 1 dog family again, as the lesser of two great discomforts.





Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Reply to XXXXX XXXXX, DVM's Post: MY VETERINARIAN ACTUALLY ALREADY PUT HER DOWN. I STARTED THIS WHOLE CORRESPONDENCE TO FIND OUT WHAT I COULD HAVE BEEN FACING AS FAR AS A BRAIN LESION WAS CONCERNED. HENCE THE QUESTION "WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT BRAIN LESIONS IN A CANINE?". I WANTED TO GET AS MUCH INFORMATION AS I COULD.
Expert:  Peter Bennett, DVM replied 8 years ago.
Brain lesions range from acquired as in injuries, to congenital as in malformations, to developmental, as in tumors of malignant or benign nature.

Since the brain is the seat of actions and behaviors, the response to a lesion is totally dependent on the location of the lesion.

Additionally, to associate a lesion with an external action may not be accurate. In the present case, the suggestion is that you were confronted with an interpersonal dog problem that may have arisen without any brain abnormality. So, if there were a lesion, it may be inconclusive to attribute blame to it.

While having not done it, I suspect that a Google search for 'canine brain lesions' will start you on a lengthy review of the available literature, scientific and others more readable.

We all are empathetic for your decision, having experienced it ourselves.









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