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Advice Needed: Sudden Aggression in a 1 year old Boxer

Discussion in 'Behavioral Issues' started by dorimama, Nov 16, 2009.

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  1. dorimama

    dorimama Boxer Buddy

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    My 1 year old boxer Dori has suddenly become aggressive with other dogs. On Friday Dori attacked my 14 year old Bichon mix. While it could have been much worse (only a few nicks on the neck and face), I am very concerned that should they have another altercation Candy (my bichon mix), won't be so lucky. I immediately seperated the two dogs and they have not been in contact with one another since the incident. While Dori hasn't shown any more instances of aggression towards the other 2 dogs in the house, I am concerned that at any moment that could change. On Saturday, I brought Dori to a fundraiser for a local dog rescue. She was fairly well behaved although after an hour or so she started to act aggressively towards any dog that approached her. I removed her from the situation and she calmed down, no problem. Today my husband brought our 2 big dogs (Dori and our Irish Wolfhound cross, Sully) to a local dog park and Dori immediately picked 3 fights with 3 different dogs which is very out of character for her. Normally (as in up to last Friday), she is very friendly with dogs at the dog park and never picks any fights. In fact, she will often times avoid dogs that intimidate her and seek out ones she feels comfortable playing with. This is just so strange because this huge change happened in literally one day. Has anyone experienced something like this before with their dog? I've completed numerous obedience classes with Dori and know about all the triggers that spark dog on dog aggression and none of them seem to be involved with the recent turn of events. We are bringing Dori to the vet's today to make sure that her recent behavioral switch isn't due to a medical issue like pain or illness. We also have a consultation set up with a behavorist who is highly skilled in dog aggression (she is an expert advisor to the Canadian courts on dog aggression). This behavior is just so out of character for Dori and it is continuing to escalate. Any advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. TwoDogs

    TwoDogs Boxer Insane

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    Sudden behavior changes can be related to health issues, so I recommend having her thoroughly checked by a vet. Let them know what behaviors you are seeing and that it is completely not in character for her. If she comes back with a clean bill of health (no pain issues, thyroid levels well within normal range, etc.) then we can talk about how to modify behavior.
     
  3. dorimama

    dorimama Boxer Buddy

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    My husband brought Dori to the vet...she seems healthy with no palpable pain. The vet pulled some blood to run a complete profile including a CBC and T4. I'm hoping that maybe since the aggression was so suddenly onset, it might be hypothyroidism. We've done blood work in the past and she's always had a clean bill of health...although we've never run a T4 before. We should have the results either tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll keep you posted once I find out.
     
  4. Cami

    Cami Boxer Insane

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    My first thought was thyroid however a T4 won't give you the whole picture regarding it.
    The thyroid has to be pretty well shot for something to show up in that test.
    If it comes up within normal ranges, even near the bottom of normal I would request to have a complete thyroid panel done which includes a TgAA reading as well.
    At any rate once you have the numbers post them or do a search here on BW for thyroiditis and it will bring up a post about how to interpret the numbers.
    This test can't be run in-house and more often than not it can't be done at the local lab that *most* vets utilize in their area. I know of two places that do offer this specialized test. One is at Michigan State and the other at Hemopet in California.
    Thyroiditis usually presents (on tests) near "maturity" (adolescence) but often with no RED FLAG symptoms. It's only after you start putting two and two together.... and sometimes it can take years to find the correlation. Full blown hypothyroidism is generally seen in older dogs. Thyroiditis is a precursor to hypothyroidism and comes with any number of the 50 or so symptoms, including aggression of unknown origin (prior to diagnosis).
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2009
  5. KatCH

    KatCH Super Boxer

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    My girl started showing signs of aggression towards other dog-strangers at around 7 months (she is now a year old). It started slowly, but it was right before we took her out to Auburn for some testing. We found out from the tests that she has a juvenile kidney disease and I think that the agression is directly correlated to an increase in her BUN and Creatinine levels and the discomfort she feels. We had tested the levels before and they had never been elevated, so the time line matches up. It has continued unfortunately so we are working with a trainer to correct the problem.

    What the trainer has told me is that a) first of all Millie is a dominant dog and shows other dominant behavior b) yes it's probably related to the discomfort she feels related to her kidneys and c) Millie starts to feel anxious in situations with other dogs because she doesn't feel well and because she doesn't feel like I am in control of the situation. It all sort of makes sense to me.

    So I agree with the other posters...check with your vet and make sure there isn't an underlying medical problem that has caused the sudden change in behavior.

    I dont have any advice yet on how to fix the problem though, so please keep us up to date on your progress or if you find anything that helps Dori.

    Luckily my Millie doesn't seem to show any agression toward our other 11 mo old boxer Ozzy. However, she is the alpha dog out of the 2.
     
  6. dorimama

    dorimama Boxer Buddy

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    Dori's bloodwork all came back in normal range; however, her Free T4 came back as 24 (Ref 19-58) which means she is well below the 50% mark (19+58/2 = 38.5). We ran a full Thyroid profile and I am waiting on those results, they should be in tomorrow. Since her Free T4 is on the low side, I think regardless I am going to request to start her on Thyroxine as a trial. Dori's aggression continues to escalate, she is now trying to attack our cats unprovoked which she has never done before. This whole situation is too sudden for it to behavioural and my vet agrees that there must be some metabolic reason for her irractic and aggressive behaviour. I'll post her thyroid panel results when I get them.
     
  7. dorimama

    dorimama Boxer Buddy

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    Thank you all so much for suggesting doing a full thyroid panel...turns out, while Dori's values are in normal range they are definitely on the low side and quite possibly inadequate for a 12 month old dog! The pathologist suggested that these values could be signs of early hypothyroidism and since Dori has other clinical signs consistent with the disease he is recommending a drug trial! Sadly, I'm ecstatic! I was so worried that Dori's sudden behavioral change was just behavioral and not metabolic and I'm relieved to know that we have a concrete and treatable reason for her sudden aggression! I'm going in tonight to have her blood pressure taken to ensure that she has no hypertension which can be exasperated by thyroxine. If she clears that test she'll be good to go to start on meds! I'll post her results when I get them tonight as well as let you know how she's doing once we start the meds...how sad is it that I'm actually happy there's something wrong with my dog?? Just goes to show you how stressful and debilitating aggression can be...
     
  8. BxrMommieNAZ

    BxrMommieNAZ Boxer Insane

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    Just my personal opinion having had 2 hypothyroid dogs, I would give the name brand Soloxine versus the generic thyroxine. Many vets suggest that the generic does affect some breeds (Boxers included) differently and it isn't as effective. I am not typically against generic drugs, but for thyroid I am.

    Personally I get mine online at entirely pets and it runs me around $40 for a 6 month supply. The pills actually say Soloxine on them which is how you know if they're name brand or generic.

    Good luck and hope it turns out that was the problem.
     
  9. Caney Creek

    Caney Creek Boxer Insane

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    No, I totally agree with you!! Caney had an aggressive episode about a year ago and I was SO worried that it was just her "coming of age," but it turned out to be just a side effect of the steroids she was taking as well as her feeling so awful due to a bad allergic reaction. I hate that she has such bad allergies but was SO relieved that it wasn't her true character I was seeing.

    That's so great that you got it figured out so early on instead of just assuming it was a behavior problem. Keep us posted on her treatment! :)

    I will have to agree with BxrMommieNAZ about the soloxine vs. thyroxine. Creek has hypothyroidism and has been on both drugs back to back and I noticed a HUGE improvement when she switched from thyroxine to soloxine, even when the dosage stayed the same.
     
  10. dorimama

    dorimama Boxer Buddy

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    I wanted to post Dori's Thyroid Panel results since they were in normal range but on the low side. The blood test was processed by Idexx laboratories in Markham Ontario.

    T3 - Elevated - Range: 0.90 - 2.10 Result: 2.48

    Canine T4 - Normal - Range: 15.0 - 51.0 Results: 19.2

    FT4 Two-step - Normal - Range: 8.0 - 32.0 Results: 16.7

    Canine TSH - Normal - Range: 0 - 0.60 Results: 0.08

    Canine TgAA - Negative

    Thyroid Comment: These results are equivocal; although thyroid hormone levels appear to be adequate, these could be considered less than optimal for a 12 month-old dog. Therefore, these results are concerning for boderline or early hypothyroidism. If unequivocal clinical signs of hypothyroidism are present and non-thyroidal illnesses are completely excluded, a therapeutic trial of thyroid hormone supplementation could be considered. Otherwise, monitoring thyroid hormone levels periodically (every 3 to 6 months) would be preferable.


    We are starting Dori on Thyro-Tabs instead of Soloxine b/c it is on backorder. I can't wait to see what she's like when she finally starts to feel better...it's been months now that she has been "under the weather" (lethargic, not eating as much) which I feel is due to the hypothyroidism since she is entirely healthy otherwise.
     
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