Elderly dog advice

(14 Posts)
Deadringer Fri 10-Jan-20 22:24:30

My westie is 14 years old and in good health, albeit fairly deaf and a bit arthritic. He eats well and still enjoys his walks and the vet has said he still has a good quality of life. He has never been a particularly friendly dog and I have always been a bit tense if approached by strangers wanting to pet him or whatever.
Anyway recently my DD had one of her neighborhood friends in. She went through the porch (where his bed is) to get to the bathroom and he just jumped up and nipped her leg. She wasn't hurt thank goodness, we apologized profusely to her and her parents, luckily they were very nice about it. We thought perhaps he was asleep and she startled him and we decided in future visitors should use the upstairs loo. Anyway a couple of days later the same child came in the house with DD and he ran at her, snarling. I closed the door before he reached her but it looked like he was really going to go for her. She has been coming to our house most days for years, he has never minded her before. I am as sure as I can be that she has never teased or hurt him.
Other than this his behavior seems perfectly normal. He spends most of his time in bed so it's easy enough to keep him away from visitors, but just want a bit of advice really. Do dogs get aggressive when they get old? Is it enough to just keep visitors away from him, or is there something else we should do? I feel if we go to the vet for advice they might suggest having him pts. Any advice?

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Deadringer Sat 11-Jan-20 10:54:06


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Cobblersandhogwash Sat 11-Jan-20 10:55:57

Gosh. His behavior has changed quite a lot then?

Could you crate him when you have visitors? Or put him in a separate room?

I would take him to the vet again to make sure nothing new is needling him.

Tricky situation.

Wolfiefan Sat 11-Jan-20 10:57:51

Eyesight failing? Early signs of dementia? Worth a vet checking for any pain.
I would look at getting stairgates or room dividers to prevent him getting at any visitors.
Do you use a yellow lead or an I need space tabard for him when out.

IncrediblySadToo Sat 11-Jan-20 10:59:47

A bet is highly unlikely to suggest to PTS & even if they do, you don’t have to do it, so yes take him to the vets, he might be sick. Dogs are good at ‘masking’ if he is ill, he’s going to be short tempered and snappy with small children.

Old age, in itself, doesn’t make them suddenly aggressive or snappy- but illness can and it’s obviously more likely in old age.

Be careful when you take him out too- you’d probably be wise to get him a very soft muzzle and a warning lead. (Not that small kids will read it, but their parents might)

I hope he’s ok & just a bit deaf/grumpy 🌷

GCAcademic Sat 11-Jan-20 11:01:38

Our dog that died a few years ago had a few aggressive episodes when she was elderly. On the basis of some other symptoms, the vet thought she most likely had a brain tumour.

Deadringer Sat 11-Jan-20 13:01:28

Thanks for replies. He was always a bit funny with strangers if they tried to pet him or made a fuss of him. On walks I would always ask people not to touch him as he didn't like being approached by people (he is a lovely looking dog) he didn't know, often they ignored me and pet him anyway and I could see he was very tense and unhappy, once or twice he snapped at people but didn't make contact. I always put it down to his personality, he just doesn't like strangers fussing over him. I think this behaviour is fairly normal for him, except worse iykwim, although it is odd that he has taken a dislike to this particular child. The porch off the kitchen is where he sleeps and I can easily keep him in there if anyone calls, he spends a lot of time in bed anyway. I will take him to the vet and get him checked out, I know I don't have to get him pts even if recommended but don't want to be irresponsible if he is turning aggressive. My DC would be devastated if he was pts. I really just wondered if this behaviour was normal in an older dog. Thanks all.

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Deadringer Sat 11-Jan-20 13:43:36

GCAcademic can I ask how you handled it when you dog was like this?

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GCAcademic Sat 11-Jan-20 14:06:52

Deadringer - fortunately her aggression was only aimed at me or DH, rather than visitors. We basically had to give her space and let her come to us on her own terms. Eventually she had a series of seizures one day and we had her pts.

Deadringer Sat 11-Jan-20 14:15:24

It's so sad isn't it when it comes to this.

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billysboy Sat 11-Jan-20 14:19:59

Dont put your dog in that situation is one option , if people come round shut him away from them in another room

I have a 14 year old jack russel that is starting to struggle seeing and hearing so I make allowances around him as he is still lively other than that

tabulahrasa Sat 11-Jan-20 14:25:41

You definitely want to get him checked out in case it’s something new health wise...

But, if she startled him and his arthritis has been sore as he moved, it’s very possible that in his head - she caused the pain.

My last dog was reactive to strangers for most of his adult life, for that reason.

He just kept him out of the way of visitors...

tabulahrasa Sat 11-Jan-20 14:26:56

I will add, completely out of the way, in a different room they wouldn’t be in, crated or occasionally outside... not somewhere people would accidentally meet him.

glabicki Sat 11-Jan-20 14:27:55

I think this is normal for older dogs, especially if their hearing and eyesight is failing.
I'd just make sure when people visit, he is separate so as not to upset him, and give him a lot of room to escape from people if it gets too much for him.
They do get grumpy just like people in their old age.
I have always had a soft spot for Westies, they're the best! smile

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