Tag Archives: older dogs and biting

Senior Dogs and Cognitive Changes- Is It Time To Let Go?

When a dog reaches the age of 12 and older, many things change in terms of their physical and mental status. Senior dogs who were once loving, playful and docile animals may begin to display agressive behaviors. A senior dog who’s hearing or vision is failing may exhibit growling or snapping behaviors as they do not hear or see when people approach them and are startled. As a dog ages, there are many mental and physical changes that affect its stress level.  Arthritic joints and restricted movement do not allow your pet to move as easily, causing him to feel trapped in an annoying situation. A well-intended affectionate rub may be causing your canine friend irritation to sore joints without you knowing it. He may snap at you when you try to pick him up for the same reason. Changes in routines, new family members, moving, loud noises, or the fast movement of children can startle the dog into an aggressive action.

It is important to have your pet checked by a veterinarian.  If biting is a reaction to pain, this can possible be alleviated by medication, acupuncture or other holistic therapies. Brain tumors are another possibility that can cause behavioral changes. The vet would do a CT scan or MRI to determine the type of tumor and prognosis for treatment.

In the long run, the toughest decision we all must make with our senior pets is when is it time to let go? We love them as a member of our family and do not want the burden of making that decision. But it is part of the responsibility we take on when we decide to bring a pet into our lives. We wish they could talk and tell us it is okay.  ‘I’m uncomfortable, my body is tired and sore and I don’t like snapping at the people I love!’  It requires soul-searching, sacrifice and courage. Don’t let others judge you. Move ahead with resolve and know it is right for you, your family and your beloved pet.