Have Dog Training Questions? Ask a Dog Trainer.
Hello - my name is***** - sorry to hear about Eskie - can you tell me if she has had any changes to her hearing or vision lately?
Ok - just checking often times older dogs with sudden aggressive changes are getting "spooked" because their vision or hearing has decreased so they get suprised more easily.
If her vision and hearing is fine - is she acting painful anywhere? Does she have problems getting up after laying down, etc?
Here is what I would recommend - seeing a board certified behaviorilst would be ideal. If that isn't possible, speak with your vet about trying a 1 week course of pain medications (like carprofen- an anti-inflammatory- and tramadol) to see if it helps and to ensure it's not related to pain. If they feel she is not painful, then my concern would shift towards canine cognitive dysfunction or a condition like sundowner's syndrome (a type of periodic dementia).
I would talk to your vet about trying medications like Prozac (fluoxetine - for aggression), selegeline (for dementia) and denamarin (an antioxidant that helps with sundowner's) - until you can make it in to see a behaviorist.
For your safety, I would recommend purchasing a basket muzzle (which allows her to breath fine and won't cause a problem if she vomits, but still protects you) until the condition has improved.
Does this answer your question to your satisfaction?
A brain tumor is possible as well but I would definitely have sundowner's syndrome and canine cognitive dysfunction at the top of my list. If the prozac has not helped, I would probably stop it now and try the other 2 medications I mentioned above as long as your vet feels it is safe to do so.
A board certified neurologist is also an option, and they will probably be easier to find and more accessible than a behaviorist.
So I would make an appointment with a neurologist and try to start the selegeline and denamarin with your vet if they are ok with it.
Anytime - glad I could be of assistance - veterinarians deal with behavior issues often - board certified veterinary animal behaviorists are few and far between and as you had mentioned, they are generally overbooked and would be considerably more expensive and would generally not consult in a forum like this.
Another recommendation would be increasing her exercise and keeping her mentally stimulated - dogs that are under-stimulated can become hyper-reactive to stimuli. If the behavior cannot be attributed to a disease/condition, then a behaviorist would work with you to train her to be calm on command to manage her reactivity and also work on densensitizing her towards motions or conditions that are associated with aggressive behavior.
Try the selegeline and denamarin, increase excercise and games and then if you aren't seeing an improvement you can see if you want to take it to the next level (MRI's, neurologist or behaviorist consults)
Best of luck - Dr. Doug