Sudden Aggressive Dog Behavior

Aggressive dog behavior may appear in the form of growling, snapping, snarling, biting or lunging. Sudden aggressive behavior in dogs may be caused by medical or behavioral problems, and sometimes both. To learn more about sudden aggression in dogs, continue reading.

What Causes Sudden Aggression in Dogs?

Aggression in dogs can be caused by behavioral issues, medical conditions or both. If your dog begins to display signs of aggression or hostility, he may be suffering from a condition or problems that should be treated.

Hypothyroidism and Aggression

Hypothyroidism is a medical condition in dogs that causes the thyroid gland to produce less than normal amounts of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs can include weight gain, loss of energy, hair loss and sudden aggressive behavior. Severity of the condition can vary, as the symptoms can.

Neurological Problems in Dogs

Congenital or neurological problems in dogs can cause aggressive behavior. In some cases, the development of a neurological problem through illness or injury can affect the dog's judgment and behavior. Hydrocephalus, head trauma, encephalitis, epilepsy and brain tumors can all cause aggression and strange behavior in dogs. Hydrocephalus is the most common of these conditions to cause sudden aggressive behavior.

Behavioral Seizures and Aggression in Dogs

Seizures that occur in the region of the brain that contributes to aggression can cause sudden behavioral problems in pets. There are certain breeds of dogs that are more prone to this condition, including poodles, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, bull terriers, Springer spaniels and Chesapeake Bay retrievers. The signs and symptoms of this type of aggression include the following:

  • Sudden change of mood before a seizure
  • Sudden onset of violent or hostile behavior
  • Dilated pupils
  • Salivation
  • Aggressive posture

In between aggressive seizures, dogs suffering from this condition may appear lethargic, sleepy, depressed or unaware.

Treatment for Sudden Aggression in Dogs

It is important for pet owners to treat the aggressive behavior in their pet, because it can continue to get worse and may also be a sign of a more serious condition. A veterinarian should be contacted promptly if you notice sudden changes in your dog's behavior and signs of aggression. The underlying cause needs to be identified before the treatment is started. Treatment for aggression in dogs will depend on the exact cause of the aggression.

Families with children or other pets can be in danger if the aggressive pet is not treated. Aggressive dog behavior can get worse over time, and eventually, may cause harm to members of the household or other animals.