Sudden aggressive behavior can be a sign of an underlying painful condition

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There are many factors that can contribute to aggression in dogs, such as the condition of the mother during pregnancy, the handling of the newborn puppy, the age at weaning, socialization experiences, low thyroid levels, diet, exercise, genetics and the type of behavior training the dog receives.

Dogs in pain are on edge and can react aggressively when touched

However, if your normally calm, friendly dog suddenly begins to show random signs of aggression, it could be he is feeling pain somewhere in his body that hasn’t been diagnosed. Dogs in pain are on edge and can react aggressively when touched. Otherwise loving pets can become violent when in pain, and dogs who already have aggressive tendencies can get even more aggressive.

A team of researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in Spain analyzed aggression in 12 large breed dogs (a Giant Schnauzer, Irish Setter, Pit Bull, Dalmatian, Neapolitan Mastiff, Shih-Tzu, Bobtail, Catalan Sheepdog, Chow-chow, Doberman Pinscher, and two German Shepherds) in 2012. The results suggest that previous expression of aggressive behavior has a major effect on the pattern of pain-related aggression in dogs. In addition, the study suggests that the pain produced by hip dysplasia is a key factor in the risk of large breed dogs becoming aggressive.

Aggressive dog

Noise sensitivities can indicate pain in dogs

Researchers at University of Lincoln, UK, looked at the veterinary records of 20 dogs diagnosed with noise sensitivity by clinical animal behaviorists. The dogs were divided into two groups: 10 who had also been diagnosed with musculoskeletal pain including hip dysplasia, arthritis, and focal spondylosis, as “clinical cases, and 10 dogs without pain as “control cases”

All 20 dogs showed noise sensitivity symptoms that included trembling, shaking, and hiding. However, the painful dogs showed an increased level of avoidance of places where they had a bad experience with noise. Sensitivity triggers included fireworks, thunderstorms, airplanes, gunshots, cars, and motorcycles.

These results are consistent with the suggestion that whenever there is a late age onset to a behaviour problem, medical issues including those related to pain should be carefully evaluated. Veterinarians should ensure that all dogs with behaviour problems and especially those with an unusual pattern of onset receive a thorough physical examination, with a particular focus on orthopaedic issues to detect any focus of pain.

Science Daily
Frontiers in Veterinary Science

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