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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
I'm new to this site and I'm desperate to find help for my dog. He is a mix (my best guess is akita/pitbull or some kind of "terrier" breed). He has been healthy his whole life except for having Parvo when I rescued him. Now, at the age of 7, he has become violently aggressive. It's like a switch flipped in his brain. In the past two weeks, he has done the following:

-Bit my other dog's foot off
-Tried to bite my boyfriend when he accidentally stepped on his foot
-Snapped at the same dog he bit
-Tried to bite me when I tried putting a muzzle on him

None of these events were "high stress" situations for him, he had no reason to behave the way he did. I had his thyroid and blood checked and everything was completely normal. I took him to his old vet, who told me to put him down, and I got a second opinion, who also said the same thing.

I know everyone is probably thinking "So she got the same answer twice, why is she bothering us?" but I'm sure we all know how hard it is to make the decision to put a dog down, especially one who was so loving and wonderful for so long.

My question is...do I have any other options? He's been through obedience training twice, and prior to a few weeks ago had never shown violence toward anyone. He's had "aggressive tendencies" but they've never caused damage or destruction.

I don't think rehoming him is an option at this point, unless I could find someone with no children or other pets who is willing to adopt a dog who has been known to try to bite. I know that seems unlikely, but on the off chance anyone might know of someone please let me know.

He's been a sweet, loving goofball for the last 7 years, and I'm dumbfounded by his new behavior and not sure what to do. Please, any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I think a dog that has a sudden change and become.es aggressive is probably a medical condition. Is he in pain? Neuro issues? Cancer, brain tumors? Has anything besides bloodwork been checked? I would get him to a teaching hospital if possible.
 

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Low thyroid can cause sudden aggression. get his thyroid checked.
 

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Low thyroid can cause sudden aggression. get his thyroid checked.
Agreed, my pupper is working through balancing out her thyroid, and she's had a couple spells where he cheese slid right off her cracker! Thankfully, no one got hurt, just embarassed me.

Veterinarians are trained primarily in the medical aspects of animal care, whereas a Behaviorist can help you sort out problem behaviors. Sorta like your family doctor might write you a prescription for anti depressants, but then he/she will tell you to follow up with a psychologist or therapist. I'm not saying he's right or wrong, I'm saying that his education is focused on the physiological aspects as opposed to the behavioral aspects. That said, sometimes behavioral problems can have physiological roots.

Request a thyroid test, usually only takes one day, and costs around $70 here. In the case the vet comes back saying it's "in normal range," ask about subclinical hypothyroidism. If it's still well within range, my next step would be a behaviorist consult.

Good Luck to you!
 

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I would never recommend putting a dog to sleep until all options are depleted. I would think medical too but it wouldn't hurt to find a behaviorist either. Some times its in the breed or breeding, but 7 years is a long time to go without any previous problems. Did you mention to the vet that the dog had parvo as a puppy? Sometimes they get really high fevers during the course of that disease and as in a person also high fevers can cause problems.
 

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I would never recommend putting a dog to sleep until all options are depleted. I would think medical too but it wouldn't hurt to find a behaviorist either. Some times its in the breed or breeding, but 7 years is a long time to go without any previous problems. Did you mention to the vet that the dog had parvo as a puppy? Sometimes they get really high fevers during the course of that disease and as in a person also high fevers can cause problems.
I am pretty sure that is why fevers are so serious with babies, because they can get brain damage from the temperature, I think. Not sure if it is true, but maybe the parvo could have affected an area that is only now becoming obvious in his age?

So sorry about your dog, though. I can't imagine how worried you are. Not knowing is sometimes the worst part.
 

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I am pretty sure that is why fevers are so serious with babies, because they can get brain damage from the temperature, I think. Not sure if it is true, but maybe the parvo could have affected an area that is only now becoming obvious in his age?

So sorry about your dog, though. I can't imagine how worried you are. Not knowing is sometimes the worst part.
I'm thinking the parvo/fever might have something to do with it also...I just don't know if they can find that out medically!!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks so much for the info everyone, yes his thyroid was checked and was normal. I just noticed tonight (he was tired so I figured it would be a good time to "examine" him) that he has a small lump right by his lowest rib. He didn't complain when I pressed on it gently, but I remember my boyfriend trying to hug him once and he yelped in pain. I plan on having this checked by the vet (although it will probably be hard for them to examine it if he's wild).

I know there's a chance this could be just a fatty cyst. Would that also cause his behavior change? I read that fatty cysts don't really hurt the dog so I'm assuming not, but I want to be prepared/fairly educated when I take him back to the vet.

I do know that when he had parvo he was extremely sick and the vet gave me the option of putting him down. I fought for his life then and I'll continue doing so until the very end. I don't know the extent of the damage of the parvo though, since he's always seemed fine before.

Thanks everyone!
 

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I am pretty sure that is why fevers are so serious with babies, because they can get brain damage from the temperature, I think. Not sure if it is true, but maybe the parvo could have affected an area that is only now becoming obvious in his age?

So sorry about your dog, though. I can't imagine how worried you are. Not knowing is sometimes the worst part.
Actually babies can withstand higher fevers than adults, they are much more resilient. Febrile seizures are common with high temperaures, most recover with no problems. If there was lack of oxygen for a length of time may cause damage.

Other issues which could cause swelling would have me concerned. I hope you find what could he causing this and its simple.
 

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I agree with what others have said, you should have a vet look at everything and do a full exam including ultrasound/xrays or other tests to see if there's something internal. He could have pain causing the aggression and that could be anything.
 

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That drastic of a behavior change with normal blood work I'd be really worried about some sort of brain disease. The problem is, it can be very difficult to diagnose brain diseases - x-rays don't see the brain well. Typically it takes imaging such as an MRI or CT scan which can be expensive. Sometimes a CSF tap can help as well.

Also, keep in mind that there are different ways to test thyroid. The most common test done with routine blood screening is called a total T4 or sometimes just T4. If that's what was done, I would recommend you request a full thyroid panel which tests several different parameters relevant to the thyroid. Some hypothyroid dogs can have a normal T4 but other things on the panel may be abnormal/diagnostic. As much as it is talked about, I've only seen one dog whose aggression was related to hypothyroidism, but it's a relatively easy thing to check and treat so it's worth doing all the way.

If you do a thyroid panel and everything is normal, and you want to pursue more diagnostics, I would ask for a referral to a neurologist. A vet teaching hospital or a specialty/referral center should have one, or if they don't have a neurologist at least a boarded internal medicine specialist. Hopefully there is one available in your area.
 

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I'd take him to a third vet, and then the fourth vet and so on for a while. People take their words as gospel but most of them are just guessing. As some already said there are more tests that can be done.

You must watch him more closely and maybe detect other changes. It is possible that changes were of environmental nature, it could be something as stupid as repainting the walls.
 

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Actually babies can withstand higher fevers than adults, they are much more resilient. Febrile seizures are common with high temperaures, most recover with no problems. If there was lack of oxygen for a length of time may cause damage.

Other issues which could cause swelling would have me concerned. I hope you find what could he causing this and its simple.
funny thing, I was listening to Dog Sense on audiobook, and the narrator made mention of serious illness in early puppyhood, and the effects it can have later in a dog's life.
 
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