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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20633
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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My 15 year old rat terroir beagle mix lives with 4 other dogs,

Customer Question

My 15 year old rat terroir beagle mix lives with 4 other dogs, all bigger than her has suddenly started snarling and growling, attacking the other dogs out of nowhere. She also growls and nips at me if I try to move her or make her go out. I've had this dog since she was about 6 months old. She was abandoned and I rescued her. She's always been sweet and loving. Now she's a whole different dog. She also has urinaty incontinence. What can I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
How long has this been going on?
What is the context of her attacks? Does she do so when they approach her, bump her, or try to interact?
Does she react this way towards you when you touch certain areas?
How has she been otherwise? Any changes to her eating, drinking, or activity?
Slowing down on walks? Sleeping more?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She just attacks as they walk by. No sore spots no other changes, other than the incontinence.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
She started this about a year ago
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Am I going to get any further response?
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your patience (as you can see I did have quite a bit to type to you),
Now I have to say that based on her age and your history, the most common cause for this would be behavioral where a dog reacts defensively first to discourage interaction that would be undesirable. We often find older dogs, especially when they are sore (often with chronic pain like arthritis) or feeling vulnerable (with sight or hearing loss) reacting this way. They tend to lash out when handled or other dogs draw near to ensure that the other animal doesn't cause them more pain or even think about doing so.
Other concerns, though less common, would be cognitive changes (akin to dementia). As well, brain based disease can trigger aggression. In these cases, it can be related to brain bleeds, swelling, protozoal or bacterial infection, and brain tumors. But again this is a lesser concern if she is otherwise normal.
With the former in mind, I would note that it'd be ideal to trial her on some supportive care for her joints at this stage to see if removing age related discomfort reduces her need to react in this manner. To start, you can consider OTC supplements or you can have her vet dispense dog safe pain relief. In regards ***** ***** joint supports, we often find glucosamine and chondroitin of benefit. This is a nutrient supplement that is available at your vets, pet shops, and health food stores (as capsules, liquids, and even treats). There are a range of products on the markets and the ones we typically use for dogs in this situation would be Cosequin, Seraquin, and Flexivet. It works by aiding joint suppleness by helping cartilage replenish itself and blocking enzyme destruction of cartilage in the joint. Normally we give dogs 300mg glucosamine + 50mg chondroitin a day per 10 pounds of body weight.
Further to this, the natural anti-inflammatory properties of Omega 3 + 6 (EPA + DHA) fish oils can be helpful. And this would be especially worth considering since the antioxidants will help with cognitive issues as well. Again this can be purchased over the counter at vets, pet stores, and health food stores. If you did want to try this for her, we tend to give a dose equal to 20mg per pound of their body weight. So, this would be another supportive measure you could consider for her.
As well, Duralactin ( can also help in this way and combines some of the above as well. Or if you wanted to use something stronger, you can have her vet dispense a dog safe non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Metacam, Rimadyl, and Previcox.
Finally, if we suspect a cognitive dysfunction, then you could also consider treatment with Vitamin E or use of dog specific brain supplements (ie Aktivait) to address that differential.
Overall, these would be our concerns for her reaction to the dogs and when you move her. Therefore, I would advise covering the discomfort angle first but you can also start her on treatment to aid cognitive function. Of course, if she isn't settling or showing other odd signs (ie head tilt, circling, seizures), then we'd want to consider a check with her vet to make sure there isn't a functional disease affecting her brain and thus triggering her aggression when approached.
Please take care,
Dr. B.