Behavior Tip of the Month
Senior Pet Behavior Problems
There are many behavior problems that can appear as your pet becomes older. Just as when we humans age, pets can experience pain as they age. Pain can lead to irritability, anxiety, stress, insecurity, and just plain discomfort. So also, lessening of sight, hearing, thyroid function etc. can lead to fear and/or aggression. Also, Alzheimers-like symptoms can occur.
All of the above makes it important that you go to your veterinarian whenever a new behavior problem appears. It could have a physical cause that your veterinarian can treat. It's a waste of time to treat a problem behaviorally until you first rule out a medical problem. When this is solved, then the problem can be treated with behavioral training.
The most common behavior problems that occur with elderly pets are separation anxiety (misery loves company), household destruction, housetraining, fears and aggression. Collectively these symptoms are characteristic of a geriatric condition known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS). I've addressed some of these topics in past months. Next month I'll deal with more of them.
Medications are now available that can help a lot of the above age-related maladies. Clomicalm has recently been released for treating separation anxiety. Another product, Anipryl, was released by Pfizer at about the same time for treating CDS. In some cases surgery can repair parts of the body that have deteriorated.
So hopefully before you give up on your pet due to age related behavior problems, first see your veterinarian. Then get the help of a behaviorally oriented trainer to help you reeducate your pet. Please don't punish him for something that's not his fault.
Woofs and Wags,
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.