Behavior changes in dogs can range from mild to severe, and they can be caused by a multitude of different reasons.
As owners, it’s important that we keep a watchful eye on our dogs to ensure that we spot any changes in their demeanor or behavior sooner rather than later.
Spotting these warning signs of health issues early can help determine what’s causing those changes sooner, which in turn helps you address the problem faster.
Today, we’re going to talk about what types of changes in a dog’s behavior to be aware of.
Read on to learn more!
Behavior Changes in Dogs
Just as changes in a dog’s behavior are many and varied, so are the causes. Everything from stress to illness can cause changes in a dog’s behavior.
It’s important to be on the lookout for any of these changes, know what they might mean, and get to your vet immediately.
Unfortunately, some of these behavior changes can overlap, being caused by other issues. That’s why it’s important to see your vet right away.
That being said, let’s talk about different types of changes in a dog’s behavior.
Pain causes a dog to show very specific signs. These signs are generally related to the dog attempting to relieve his discomfort in some way. Be on the lookout for any of these signs of pain.
- Arched back
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive vocalization or whining
- Antisocial or aggressive behavior
- Excessive sleeping
- Difficulty eating dry food (oral pain)
- Heavy panting
- Shaking or trembling
The signs of pain in a dog can mimic other issues.
- a lack of appetite could be a sign that your dog has food allergies, or that he just plain doesn’t like the food.
- a senior dog or puppy may also sleep a lot more than an adult dog.
That’s why it’s so important to call your vet if you notice any of these symptoms.
Cognitive behavior changes in dogs can overlap somewhat with both changes caused by pain and by OCD. In general, you’ll notice a few of these signs in conjunction with one another if your dog suffers from canine dementia.
- Getting “lost” in corners
- Staring for long periods of time
- Inappropriate elimination
- Antisocial behavior (especially if your dog was previously very social)
- Excessive barking
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping pattern
- Not responding to your voice
As with pain, some of these behavior changes in dogs can signal something completely different than a cognitive disorder.
- Excessive barking can be caused by anxiety, or a response to a particularly stressful situation.
- A senior dog that is losing her hearing may not respond to your voice.
You’ll need to work with your vet to determine which warning signs are potential symptoms of a health problem and which are just situational (triggered by some sort of event in the dog’s life).
Most OCD behaviors in dogs are actually normal behaviors but done to excess. This makes it particularly hard to spot the signs of this disorder. Always remember that excessive activity is the key to spotting this sort of behavior.
- Tail chasing
- Fence running
- Flank sucking
- Inappropriate elimination
Once again, I highly recommend talking to your vet if you see any of these behavior changes in your dog. Treating OCD in dogs requires behavior modification, and your vet can help you come up with the best plan.
Behavior Changes in Dogs Require Immediate Vet Consultation
As you’ve seen, behavior changes in dogs can be caused by almost anything.
- A dog may pace if his GI tract is upset.
- He may lick at his paw if he has a wound.
- He may vocalize if he has pain or if he has dementia or if he suffers from OCD.
The theme here is that knowing what behavior changes in dogs to look for doesn’t mean being able to treat them. The key to helping your dog is to spot the changes and then see your vet immediately. With their help, you can begin to determine what’s causing the behavioral changes and how to fix them.