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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18168
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My female Westie Bonnie is 12yrs and 9months and over the past

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My female Westie Bonnie is 12yrs and 9months and over the past few weeks, her behaviour has changed. She has always been a feisty wee dog and fights with my Japanese Spitz who is totally submissive. However now she is attacking her and I have to
pull her off her. She's barking constantly at nothing and has snapped at me a few times. When she is loving, she's a lovely dog and adores me, but I can't work out what is wrong. She is not incontinent, has a healthy appetite and has no ailments. Please advise me as Im at my wits end. Many thanks.
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Bonnie has had a change in attitude becoming much more aggressive with her housemate and you, and barking more.

Whenever I see changes in personality or behavior in older dogs I recommend a visit to see their veterinarian. I believe that an examination and a geriatric blood profile may be helpful in figuring out why she is behaving the way she is. Many laboratories offer a mini panel that hit the highlights and allow you to see if her organs are functioning normally for a reasonable price.
In some dogs as they age their organ systems don't work as well as they once did, and waste products that their organs usually filter out build up in the blood stream and that affects brain function. They may behave much differently because their brain function isn't normal.
It is also possible at her age that she is getting arthritic and has days and times that she is painful and thus less patient.

The other possibility is that she is experiencing senility, not uncommon at her age. These dogs often get more irritable and aggressive, forget their housemate and react as if they are a new dog, seem more confused at night when it is dark. They may all of the sudden get into the garbage or chew up things when they never displayed these habits before.

Other possibilities in dogs with behavior changes are a stroke, or even a brain tumor, though I would expect that she would have other symptoms too.

A good start is an examination by her veterinarian and to check her organ function with some blood tests.

If her organ function is normal there are medications that can help with senility and the associated anxiety, such as Anipryl (L-deprenyl or selegiline). There is also a diet formulated for older dogs high in the particular trace minerals and supplements needed for healthy brain function in older dogs called Hills b/d.

We can also use prescription anti-anxiety drugs if her veterinarian feels that part of her changes in behavior are related to anxiety, such as fluoxetine.

I must warn you that if she is getting senile these medications and the b/d diet don't work for all dogs and they may not work for long but they may buy her some quality time and help with her confusion.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Dr. Kara and 4 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much. I will take her to our vets. She is very precious and its not nice to see her like this. I did think her problems were age related, and Im sure our vet will confirm what you think. Thank you once again. Excellent service.

You are very welcome, please let me know how things go for her, Dr. Kara