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Aggression In Aging Greyhounds


winnie
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Our 14.5 y/o greyhound Darcy has always had some space and food aggression issues. In the past, she would bark and growl if another dog got in her space, but it would never escalate beyond that. In the past six months, she no longer gives warnings. Although good with people, we have had recent incidents where she has snapped at other dogs. With greyhound skin being as delicate as it is, this is an issue of serious concern.

 

At home, we're keeping our three dogs separated by baby gates when we're out of the house. Our dogs haven't seen a crate in nine years and Darcy never crated well even when we did use them. When we're home, all of the dogs like to spend time in the same room with us. Unfortunately, even that now has its risks. We could muzzle, but that means that we'd pretty much have to muzzle all three whenever we're at home.

 

We took Darcy to our vet in May for a full check-up. She is generally in very good health for her age, but does have arthritis and vision loss. Our vet put her on 200mg of gabapentin 2x per day. We're going to discuss possible calming supplements or drugs with our vet this Saturday. We're really hoping our vet has some ideas for us. I'm also looking into acupuncture for Darcy's arthritis. I love this old crab pot so much. Some have asked if she is going senile. We don't believe so. Darcy is still very sharp mentally. She is alert (hearing is great) and knows exactly what time it is for walks and meals. She still goes up/down stairs on her own and has a hearty appetite.

 

Posting here to see if others experienced increased aggression with their aging greyhounds. If yes, I hope you're willing to share your experiences and how you handled the behavior changes. Thank You.

Laura with Celeste (ICU Celeste) and Galgos Beatrix and Encarna
The Horse - Gracie (MD Grace E)
Bridge Angels Faye Oops (Santa Fe Oops), Bonny (
Bonny Drive), Darcy (D's Zipperfoot)

 

 

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If only one dog is snapping, I don't understand why you'd muzzle them all. Keep her seperated from the other dogs when you're not home, muzzle her when you are.

 

She could be in pain, and reacting to that. She could be senile. Poor vision and perhaps partial hearing loss could be an issue.

 

No dog in my family history, except one English Setter, ever made it to 14 years old. Well done!


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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I'll be at Dewey, (Epworth Church on Rte 1) giving a talk - When I Am Older. Columbus Day weekend. This and more will be discussed. (Also giving a Holistic Care for Healthy Hounds talk, too)

 

Just like with humans, as we age, our 'quirks' can be exacerbated. Additionally, older age, and aches and pains just make us crabby. We like our space, we like special attention, and we don't often want others around us. Her age, 14.5, is incredible! Truly fabulous that she can still do stairs, though i would caution that with arthritis and vision loss, that is dangerous for her. I would also caution putting that old a hound on drugs to calm her. She's only being herself, just an older version. And at that age she can be whoever she wants to be, and tell off whoever she wants too! But it is our responsibility to protect them from themselves (just like with our aging parents), and the consequences of their actions. Girls usually handle pain better than boys, and she is in pain, and showing it by the snapping. You can modify her behavior by changing up a few things so no one gets hurt. Use an ex-pen to block her from the others. Giving her, her own space where others don't interfere would be helpful, if possible.Muzzling her is an option, though it could be stressful for her. Baby gate her separately when you aren't home. These are small concessions for a life well lived. Acupuncture is fabulous, as is cold laser for aches and pains.

 

Some natural suggestions to help her (none of which are expensive) would be:

1. Joint supplements for arthritis - Glucosamine, MSM, Chondroitin, Vitamin C

2. Yucca - for inflammation - LOVE THIS STUFF!

3. Salmon and Coconut Oils - for skin/coat/digestion and more

4. Aromatherapy - to help with her behavior

Claudia & Greyhound Gang
100% Helps Hounds

GIG Bound!

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Be careful when discussing meds. Many anti anxiety prescriptions can exacerbate aggressive tendencies. You might look into drugs for senior dogs - changes in brain chemistry when aging can cause many different symptoms.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Laura, I have some ideas for you, but have to head to work. Posting so I'll remember to answer later.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Thank you for the responses thus far!

 

Darcy is on a daily joint supplement (Dasuquin MSM), in addition to the 200mg of gabapentin 2x per day. Darcy is as determined and stubborn as she is old. We do walk behind her going up stairs and hold onto the back of a harness going down. We'd be just as happy if she stayed on one level, but she wants to be in our bedroom with the entire pack at night.

 

Our pack is separated when we're not at home with baby gates. I always thought that if you have one muzzled, you should have all muzzled. Darcy snaps without warning. What would happen if she were muzzled and one of the other dogs reacted back? Things happen in an instant, even when we're in the same room. I like the idea of using an x-pen to create her own space. Any x-pen recommendations?

 

For anyone curious, this is Darcy running last month. She is the black hound at the start of the video. For her age, she really is pretty amazing. She is very sweet with people, but I worry about our other dogs.

 


I'll be at Dewey, (Epworth Church on Rte 1) giving a talk - When I Am Older. Columbus Day weekend. This and more will be discussed. (Also giving a Holistic Care for Healthy Hounds talk, too)

 

Unfortunately we will not be a Dewey, but thank you for the information!

Laura with Celeste (ICU Celeste) and Galgos Beatrix and Encarna
The Horse - Gracie (MD Grace E)
Bridge Angels Faye Oops (Santa Fe Oops), Bonny (
Bonny Drive), Darcy (D's Zipperfoot)

 

 

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Good about joint supplements.

re Dasuquin: - Read label and make sure you are giving 1500 - 2000 mgs daily of Glucosamine AND of MSM AND of Chondroitin. That is numerous tablets/capsules to get correct dose.

 

Inflammation will get in the way of the joint supplements doing their best work. So reducing inflammation is important - particularly with older hounds. MSM is a good daily anti-inflammatory, but Yucca is an EXCELLENT, natural anti-inflammatory (without side effects) for acute issues.

 

Re x-pens. I usually take them apart, and move the pieces around as I need them. So if she has a corner bed she likes, then put up pieces of the pen around her, so when she snaps, she only gets as far as the pen panel. Just the regular ones work fine.

 

Don't the other dogs avoid her? If they are not, then watch for instigation. Pack dynamics change as dogs age. My guess is she's always been the one in charge, and others may start vying for her position, and will hurt her, as you are concerned about. If you do muzzle, you can put a piece of lambswool to the top of the muzzle (over the nose area) so there is no rubbing on her nose.

 

Also - we've all moved ourselves to the couch when our hounds can no longer get to our bedrooms. It's just what we do. :) Congrats on loving her so well that she is truly living longer and healthier than most!

Claudia & Greyhound Gang
100% Helps Hounds

GIG Bound!

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If she's having vision problems she may be a bit more insecure around the other dog. She may not be able to tell how far they actually are from her and that's hard for a dog who has always had space issues. She may have problems seeing in bright or really dim light also.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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Just wondering too if it's the vision loss that is causing her to snap. If he hearing is fine, could you put bells on the other dogs? or something that makes a noise so she can hear how close they are?

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So now that I have a bit of time to type, you might really consider working with a veterinary behaviorist. Leslie Sinn works in your area and is fantastic as far as I've heard. It's not cheap, but in the end if it gets you to the point where Darcy and the rest of the pack are at their best with the least amount of trial and error and repeated aggression, it is worth it. This is ESPECIALLY true if you are considering anxiety meds or supplements.

 

Here's my unofficial two cents otherwise. First, when there are drastic changes in behavior in older dogs, I ALWAYS look to medical issues first. You guys have identified some, but I think you may need to do more to address them. Re: vision - the suggestion above to put bells on the other animals is a great one. You might also consider keeping the house better lit when you're awake to help her see better. An x-pen around her when she's sleeping is probably also the best thing you could do to let her feel a little more secure that she can sleep in peace. You could also consider a consult with a veterinary opthomolagist to make sure this isn't something you can treat, or to get input on how to better manage her vision issues.

 

For the arthritis, you would typically treat arthritis with an NSAID like Deramaxx or Rimadyl. Gabapentin is a great drug, but it primarily works on nerve pain so I'm a little confused why your vet prescribed it with a dx of arthritis unless there is some other issue as well? I would ask for an NSAID Rx and also add fish oil or an omega-3 supplement to her regimen. If you are going to continue the Gabapentin, consider getting 100 mg capsules and dosing every 6-8 hours. Gabapentin has a very short half life relative to other drugs so it doesn't stay in the system as long. It's always better to dose less more frequently if your schedule allows it. For other "holistic" options, in addition to acupuncture, cold laser therapy can be very helpful in treating arthritis and can be less expensive.

 

As for anti-anxiety medication, Trazodone could be a good option for her. It doesn't have the side effects that many of the other drugs can, including the possibility of increased aggression. You could first try some natural calming aids to see if any take the edge off. My first choice would be either Composure chews (just dose according to the instructions on the bag) or pure l-theanine, 100 mg 2x/day. They are both in the can't hurt, might help category as far as I'm concerned.

 

But really, if there are medical issues that aren't fully addressed, especially pain, you want to get those taken care of first.

 

Hope this helps. You're always free to contact me off list for input if you have specific questions too. :)

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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You might also want to try chiropractic treatment. Larry who is almost 14 (and he is a big greyhound) has been getting it for about 3 years now. I was very hesitant at first and I always tell the chiropractor to be very gentle with Larry. You can tell that Larry is doing better the day after a treatment and it lasts between 3 to 4 weeks. Larry also had the cold laser treatment and he was one of the few that it made his condition worse - we used it for about 3 to 4 months last year. Our chiropractor comes to the house which makes a bid difference - so Larry does not get anxious. If you do decide to try a treatment - make sure that person is a certified ANIMAL chiropractor. and not just a chiropractor.

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Congrats on making it to 14.5! That's impressive. :) I think other posters gave good ideas on pain management, so I don't really have anything to add on that front.

 

I want to say this delicately, but Darcy is presumed to be the dog that hurt Bonny, correct? If so, I would never have her unmuzzled with your other dogs. I would either keep her in an X-pen or muzzled. My fear would be that she could still start a fight and hurt one of your dogs or you & your DH when you try to break it up.

Rebecca
with Atlas the borzoi, Luna the pyr, and Madison the cat, always missing Sahara(Flyin Tara Lyn) and Coltrane(Blue on By) the greyhounds

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Yes, Darcy is the one we suspect of hurting Bonny. I'm not sure I'd call this a drastic change in behavior. Darcy has always had space and food aggression. It's just now she doesn't give a growl/bark warning. She just snaps.

 

My concern of using a muzzle on just Darcy - and not all three - is that if she was to snap, and the other dog reacted, she would not be able to defend herself. The x-pen seems like the best idea for when we're home and have the pack together in the same room. We're using baby gates to separate when we're out.

 

Thanks for the supplement and drug suggestions. We'll ask our vet about adding a NSAID. Celeste is on Metacam for arthritis (12 y/o and, unlike Darcy, really struggles with stairs). We don't have insurance and are already paying close to $800/month on Care Credit. So, not likely to seek out veterinary specialists unless our regular vet recommends it. One of the ladies at my barn is a vet and does accupuncture. She may do chiropractic too (need to check). I've already touched base with her about Darcy about acupuncture. The plus is that we can do it at the barn (Darcy gets really stressed at the vets office).

 

Thank you again to everyone. I truly love my old crab pot. I also want to keep the rest of the pack safe.

Edited by winnie

Laura with Celeste (ICU Celeste) and Galgos Beatrix and Encarna
The Horse - Gracie (MD Grace E)
Bridge Angels Faye Oops (Santa Fe Oops), Bonny (
Bonny Drive), Darcy (D's Zipperfoot)

 

 

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Laura, I meant to mention that pretty much any vet behaviorist will consult with a veterinarian directly free of charge so you really only need to ask your vet to contact Dr. Sinn, especially if you do decide to try medication or things escalate. No different than how we'd see a psychiatrist or a counselor who would work in concert with our doctor for anxiety issues/meds versus expecting our PCP to be as knowledgeable in those areas.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Vet gave us a script for Tramadol. We're going to try that in combination with the Gabapentin. I asked about NSAIDs, but she is concerned about kidney and liver issues due to Darcy's age. She thinks the Tramadol will help with pain and have a calming affect too. She also thought the x-pen was a good idea.

 

I really do appreciate all of the responses! I suspect we're going to have a bit of trial and error, but hopefully no more injuries.

Laura with Celeste (ICU Celeste) and Galgos Beatrix and Encarna
The Horse - Gracie (MD Grace E)
Bridge Angels Faye Oops (Santa Fe Oops), Bonny (
Bonny Drive), Darcy (D's Zipperfoot)

 

 

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FWIW, my 12yo hounds are now on 37.5mg of deramax every day (1/2 tab of 75mg) for pain ... my vet and I discussed the liver risks, but realized that at their age, long term kidney & liver risks are not major factors, and the quality of life benefits were worth the risks. But my hounds are healthy with the exception of Baby's tumor, so I'm not sure how that compares to Darcy. I DO continue with milk thistle to support the kidney & liver, though.

 

Good luck with your special one.

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Have to agree with Juliemac, especially since I believe Darcy's blood work was clear, right? You may find this article interesting:

http://speakingforspot.com/blog/2015/07/19/long-term-use-of-nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory-medication-for-treatment-of-canine-arthritis/

 

I also just had another thought. It seems reasonable to at least see what relief she gets from the Tramadol, but you might also consider sam-E in the meantime. It supposedly has analgesic properties that help with arthritis, but it also releases neurotransmitters that improve brain chemistry (increases dopamine, etc). It's used to treat depression in humans and is sometimes used to treat separation anxiety in dogs. Seems like it could have multiple benefits for Darcy and there are generally no side effects. Most common use in dogs btw is liver support so if vet is concerned about side effects of pain meds this can only help. I'm about to start Zuri on it for similar reasons though he is already on Deramaxx.

 

http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/same/568

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Not giving a 14.5 yr old an NSAID because of potential side effects just doesn't make sense. Too busy worrying about tomorrow preventing living happy and comfortable today. Makes zero sense. Fwiw my 10 yr old boy has been on a long course of carprofen--I just monitor his bloods every 6 months.

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