Aggression in ageing dog can indicate pain

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Aggression in ageing dog can indicate pain

Dear Cathy,

I have a 13-1/2 year old wheaten terrier. He is in failing health. The veterinarian told us he has severe arthritis in his back legs and has a large gingival mass in the left maxillary region. We have not had the mass biopsied because of his age.

The reason I am writing to you is if I take his collar and leash off, he gets very aggressive when I put it on him again. Therefore, I have been leaving his leash on all the time. It seems worse at night. I think dementia is setting in because sometimes he just stares into space. I would appreciate your thoughts regarding Ollie.

– Susanne, East Hampton, New York

Dear Susanne,

I am sorry to hear about Ollie. When dogs with failing health display aggression towards their owners at this stage of life, chances are they are in pain. Your veterinarian can prescribe pain medication to help, but this solution may be short-lived, as the pain often breaks through again.
It sounds like you are dealing with end of life issues, which is difficult for every pet parent. Talk with your veterinarian so you know all your options and can be prepared to help Ollie over the rainbow bridge when it’s time.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal (aka The Pet Pundit), CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 35 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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