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Dr. Gene
Dr. Gene, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2680
Experience:  DVM degree from Ontario Veterinary College
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My friend's 8 year old Yorkshire terrier had surgery to

Customer Question

My friend's 8 year old Yorkshire terrier had surgery to remove a simple growth over a month ago. Ever since he returned home, he has gone from an easy going pup to an EXTREMELY agitated dog and is destructive to the point and hurting himself!! Her vet said he must have developed dementia and it is just coincidental that it happened right after his surgery. I don't buy that. My friend is beyond worried and frustrated. Some have said it might be time to put her dog down. I would hate to see that happen. Could his sudden behavioral change be caused by improper use of anesthesia or monitoring during surgery?? If so, can this be resolved so the dog can return to normal behavior?? Any ideas?? My friend's vet has suddenly been avoiding her calls and is sticking to the sudden dementia. I've heard of issues with animals and anesthesia for maybe a couple of weeks at the MOST after surgery, but NOT over a month!! Please advise....thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

Hi there!

Strange circumstances... I have a few questions for you:

1. Do you know what the grown ended up being? Was it cancerous?
2. How soon after returning home (in minutes/hours/days) did he start showing abnormal behavior?
3. Can you tell me exactly what he does?
4. Does the abnormal behavior happen in episodes with him being normal in between or constantly?
5. Any changes in appetite, water consumption, urination?
6. What medication was he on after the surgery?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Here is the info. that my friend gave me.Surgery date: 10-28-15.
Max: 10 years old. Friend has owned for 8 1/2 years. Never needy, never crated, well behaved with NO separation anxiety issues. Never destructive.Currently, dog has normal appetite and normal thirst.Mostly calm when owner at home with him. However, he DOES have excessive panting and salivating--to the point of soaking himself! Scratching his eyes and very clingy.When left alone he tore apart his plastic crate, soils the house, destructive tearing things apart.Also, he use to like his plastic crate. The same crate he tore through.Put in metal crate. Tried chewing through that and when owner returned home, there was blood from all the chewing! Seems excessively determined and strong--knocking over very heavy items and jumping into bath tub which normally he would not attempt. Climbing over gates that are very high.Terribly exhausted and severly stressed!! This behavior began the day after his October surgery and escalated 2 days later and has persisted since.The growth that was removed was listed as non cancerous mass. Located on his bottom. Also had his teeth cleaned at same time. Found to have gingival hyperplasia over molars. Took care of that.Meds given after surgery: rimadyl 25 mg--7 pills cut in half and given 2X/day.
Currently taking Zylkebe 75 mg--2X/day since 12-4-15. Do not see any change yet.My friend describes him as a different dog and as if he had no control--unless she is right there with him. But the panting and salivating is ever present.Hope you have some ideas of what is happening here!! Her current vet has taken a somewhat defensive stance and is of no help. I recommended seeing my vet, but she is on a limited income. If you can give us any idea of what might be at the root of this, we can go from here. It just has to be related to his surgery in some way.Thank you......
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for that information.

While we can't know for sure, I agree that his new behavior is most likely somehow related to his visit.

I can think of several possibilities:

1. Pain. Even though your friend's dog was given pain medication after his surgery (two painful procedures: removal of the mass and presumably resection of the overgrown gum tissue), if the pain was not controlled well during the procedure itself, he could be experiencing complications stemming from that. Panting and hyper salivation support this - hyper salivation maybe be due to oral pain (even though he's eating well) and panting may be a sign of pain as well.

2. Stress/fear; this may also be stemming from pain or from having had a stressful visit. Association of being left alone with the memories of the stress/pain may be causing the signs of anxiety you are describing.

3. Complications caused by the process of general anesthesia itself are not likely. In most cases, neurologic/behavioral problems are seen right away after anesthetic recovery and there are no normal episodes. The typical scenario is a prolonged decreased in blood pressure and decrease of blood flow to the brain resulting in death of certain areas of the brain. This may be reversible to some degree but there should not be a period of normal behavior nor should there be normal behavior in some instances (as when with the owners) versus others (such as when being left alone).

4. Coincidental dementia is possible, but quite unlikely... Unrelated brain injury/damage or other events causing stress/anxiety are possible but it's tough to determine this now.

I think that the next step, if not already done, is to have Max examined again to see if there are any changes, in his mouth, around the incision, etc. Blood testing should be done (or repeated, if done prior to surgery) to ensure no changes in organ functions have occurred. I would consider another round of pain medication for at least a week and implementing a plan to deal with the apparent separation anxiety - see below. Consultation with a behavioral specialist (find one here: is recommended.

For separation anxiety, see this link ( and implement the changes that are listed; I would also recommend anti-anxiety medication (fluoxetine would be my choice).

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.
Hi Audrey Hagman,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Max. How is everything going?
Dr. Gene
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think I may have sent an incomplete email just now. Anyway, thank you for your quick responses. Fearing that Max may indeed be in pain, my friend took Max to my vet. He carefully examined his gums and bottom area where he had mass removed. He said he was well healed and determined through examining Max that there was no pain. He felt that Max was indeed experiencing anxiety as a result of the surgery. He gave my friend some suggestions, etc.
Max has been slowly settling down and seems to be improving each day.
Thank you, again.
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

You're very welcome. I'm glad that Max is feeling better, hopefully this will continue and he'll regain his normal behavior. Please be sure rate my answers, if you you've found them helpful and best of luck!