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Normally mild mannered dog suddenly starting fights with our other dog

(11 Posts)
moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 10:47:57

So, my lovely Lurcherboy has always been the sweetest dog. He's never had a fight in his life, goes out of his way to appease and avoid rather than get involved with dogs that appear bolshy or aggressive and has always been so calm and laid-back he's almost horizontal. He's also been incredibly tolerant of Pip in the two years we've had him, even when he was an annoying pup with all the nipping and nagging to play.

A few weeks ago I found a lump on his stomach, just literally on the edge of where his ribs meet under his middle. He had a fine needle aspiration that came back 'no cells found' and the vet said it's most likely a fatty lump and to just keep an eye on it. It doesn't appear to have grown since then.

A couple of weeks ago, the dogs had a scuffle in the kitchen. I was right next to them when it kicked off and they stopped as soon as I yelled, but I wasn't 100% sure what caused it. I think it was because Pip was next to the Kong Wobbler that Lurcherboy has when I go on the school run, but he wasn't trying to get it, he was literally just standing in front of it. Up until then it was always kept on a low shelf of the butcher's block when it was empty, but after than I moved it and we now keep it elsewhere.

Since then we've noticed Lurcherboy has been seemingly ravenous. He's actually stolen food off the table and the worktop and considering he's 10 and only ever did this literally a couple of times as a youngster before (and always jacket potato skin for some reason confused) and not for absolutely years, this is out of character. He stole ds2's lunch off the worktop when dh went to answer the phone, last week he twice stole the treats I'd just got out to put down for the school run when I turned my back on him for a second.

Also, last week, in the middle of the night we were woken by the dogs fighting. I ran downstairs and realised I'd absent mindedly left the kong wobbler in it's old place on the low shelf (had a migraine when I put it away so wasn't thinking straight). Both dogs were standing in front of the shelf when I got downstairs so I assumed that must be it.

Then this week I've twice caught him eating Pip's school-run treat when I've walked back in from the school and Pip has been standing there with his tail between his legs looking anxious.

Then yesterday dh was clearing up after dinner, scraping the plates etc. There were a few peas left on a plate so he scraped them into Pip's green feeder as he's done a thousand times before and as Pip went to get them Lurcherboy flew at him and all hell broke loose. I thought it was all noise at first, but after we'd separated them I realised Pip had blood on his face. I cleaned it up and to be fair it does look like, being so thin skinned as he is, he's either been caught with a claw or tooth rather than been bitten, but all the same it's really worried and upset me. What if one of the dcs had been walking past when that happened (although as a rule the dcs aren't allowed in the kitchen when the dogs are eating, but this wasn't meal time it was a handful of peas)?

The odd thing is that he was out in the garden with Pip yesterday afternoon and Pip was being a right pain, nagging him to play, jumping on him repeatedly etc and all Lurcherboy did was his usual grown-up sharp bark 'no' and turn away to make it clear he didn't want to. I would have thought if he was just being generally short-tempered and more liable to snap he'd have had a go at Pip then, so it really does seem to be food related.

He has never resource guarded in his life before and he's always been fed in the same room as one or two other dogs, as well as them all being left with kongs, treat balls, kong wobblers etc when we go out. (Having said that I have just recalled him stealing Pip's meals when he was a pup if he got the chance, but it was never nasty, he'd just saunter up and eat it.)

So basically over the past month, we've found a lump that we've been told not to worry about, he's become a total and utter ravenous pig, scavenging and stealing, threatening Pip out of his food and even fighting him over tiny tidbits. He hasn't had a change of diet or quantity of food, doesn't appear to be losing weight, his stools are normal, although he did have a short bout of diarrhoea for 24 hours last week, (we thought due to him stealing ds2's cheese sandwich).

I have no idea what this is all about. If it was a general problem between the two dogs I'd expect him to be being more snappy and grumpy with Pip generally, but he's not, he's still playing with him on walks, not being nasty if Pip get's a bit too rough when playing, allowing him to curl up with him and rest his head on him etc to sleep.

Obviously they are now being fed separately and we're being extra careful with food on the table and worktops etc, but we have a big problem with school runs, as Pip has separation anxiety and howls/screams if not distracted with food/treats, but won't eat at all if Lurcherboy isn't in the kitchen with him. So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't there, as I don't want to risk a fight happening while I'm not here, but can't leave them without putting treats/kongs etc down.

I'm so upset to see this sudden change in him, especially given that he's always been so mild mannered and sweet tempered. Historically he would just lie there and look pathetic if another dog took his food/treat and there's no way he'd threaten or fight another dog for theirs. sad

They're both up to date with worming, but I'm going to retreat this weekend anyway just in case. He's saw the vet two weeks ago and had a general check-up as well as the fine needle aspiration and she said he seems fine.

Does anyone have any ideas as to what might be causing this? Could it be thyroid or diabetes or would we be seeing some other symptoms as well?

Lilcamper Fri 19-Jun-15 10:55:41

Any sudden behavioural change needs going straight back to the vet. Thourough check up including bloods. could very well be thyroid or other issues.

moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 11:14:07

I agree Lilcamper they didn't do bloods when he had his aspiration and to be honest I wasn't 100% happy with the all clear based on 'no cells'. I will get him booked in for bloods and another check-up asap.

There's just something about him at the moment, something in the way he keeps looking at me that makes me feel there's something going on that we don't now about.

Breaks my heart to see him behaving like this, as it's literally a total turnaround in his behaviour. sad Poor old Pip doesn't know which way's up either and is giving him a wide berth. He even squeezed himself into the little bed under the kitchen table last night rather than sharing the huge soft duvet bed with him like he usually does. sad

moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 11:22:10

'know about' not 'now about' blush

Chattymummyhere Fri 19-Jun-15 11:54:20

I agree with lilcamper

A sudden change in the dog without you changing anything is a vets trips, if you not happy with the vets switch him a basic blood test as ours is £60 which checks for levels of things.

It does seem that the lump has something to do with this, be it a symptom of what's wrong with the dog or it is what's wrong with the dog.

As a short time thing could pip be crated with food while your out so still in the same room as your other dog? Or a puppy pen/child pen/room divider type thing, or you could muzzle the other dog so again pip still has company and food but won't be attacked? Obviously not good long term but until you can get to the bottom of what's going on.

tabulahrasa Fri 19-Jun-15 12:13:01

I'd be getting his thyroid checked too...make sure that is one of the things they run his bloods for.

moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 12:19:08

Thank you Chattymum.

I am happy with my vet. They've been fantastic over the years, I just know that occasionally fatty lumps turn out to be something more sinister and there's something about the way he keeps looking at me and his general demeanour that has me doubting this time.

Unfortunately we can't crate Pip. He used to have a crate as a pup - up until he was about 1 year old, iirc and is fine to travel and stay in one in the car, but when we tried to leave him in it in the house last summer he broke it trying to escape and injured himself in the process, so it's not really an option.

We have a dog gate between the kitchen and living room and I tried leaving Lurcherboy one side and Pip the other while I did the school run, but Pip not only refused to eat his kong, he screamed and fretted the whole time I was gone (it was only 12 minutes). Also, Lurcherboy can jump the gate from a standing start, so he would probably just jump over to get to the food anyway.

I do have a muzzle I could use, but Lurcherboy has never had cause to wear one before so I'd have to condition him to it first which would take a bit of time. If would be easier if my neighbours would go on holiday (they're retired) as then I'd just put them in different rooms and Pip would have to yell for 10/15 minutes.

They like to make things complicated for me do my dogs. hmm

moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 12:30:36

Thanks tab that was what sprung to mind with me. I know thyroid issues are often overlooked in Greyhounds and their crosses, as their bloods are often different anyway. Lurcherboy is only 1/4 Grey, but he also has Saluki and Deerhound in his mix.

I have the details of that lady that you can arrange for bloods to be sent to for a detailed check (can't for the life of me remember her name at the moment though) and might ask for them to be sent there. I've heard of quite a few cases of aggression in sighthounds turning out to be thyroid related.

I'm going to stuff him a big kong with low fat cottage cheese, sweet potato and a bit of sardine for taste for this afternoon's school run. Should only be out 15 minutes max and he's usually hopelessly slow at unstuffing kongs, so hopefully that will keep him distracted and mean he leaves Pip alone.

Chattymummyhere Fri 19-Jun-15 12:33:31

My girls can be like that pining for each other, And boy will destroy crates.

Could pip come on the school run? Would pip fit into a doggy pushchair for going onto the school playground? Is there something you could in effect tie big dog too in the kitchen using a tie out cable? So he can still wonder a bit but pip can get away if he tries to attack. Might work easier than a muzzle if his never really had one before. If you use a tie out make sure he cannot get wrapped around anything though and of course make sure he has his own food and water in reach and pips is somewhere lurtcherboy cannot reach.

Dogs never make life easy for us. itd always harder the more you have we have been lucky that there has only ever been one big spat between our girls and 2 weeks of seperation helped as well as the fact that the one in season was out of season by then as well.

moosemama Fri 19-Jun-15 12:53:34

He can't come on the school run unfortunately, as I have to go into the playground and couldn't tie him up. He's 28 1/2 " to the shoulder too, so no chance of putting him in a doggy pushchair!

I've had dogs for 25 years, up to three at a time and never had a fight between any of them before, even with bitches of similar size and age living together, so it's come as quite a shock, especially as these two have been fine together for two years and Lurcherboy has always been a soppy lump with both dogs and people. I do think there's most likely a health issue underlying it.

I'm going to resort to giving Lurcherboy an enormous frozen kong of his own this afternoon. That should keep him busy, but I can't do that twice a day every day, as we've have trouble keeping him from gaining weight since he was neutered as it is.

GillynMilly Tue 30-Jun-15 22:49:23

Can you crate lurcherboy instead? My cocker spaniel had under active thyroid and became aggressive so definitely worth persevering with your vet for a more in depth check,bloods definitely.

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