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phej

Sudden aggression

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This quirky, ball obssessed border collie landed in our lives in the fall of 2008. He wasn't without issues (who is?!) but we were smitten. When not chasing after balls or showing off his Lassie like qualities, he would climb on our laps, wrap his paws around our necks and give kisses galore. We took him to classes, played agility and laughed when a tennis ball landed in our bed at 6am sharp every morning.

 

MurphEric.jpg

 

But then this summer, something changed. First, we noticed an extra growl here and there. Then the snarls came. And later on, we would find ourselves cornered in random places by a dog whose hard stare would make your blood freeze. We knew something was very, very wrong.

 

A routine physical revealed nothing. Luckily, we and our vet were aware of the evidence linking sudden, unpredictable aggression to thyroid issues. We mailed Murphy's blood to dr. Dodds at a California based non-profit organization Hemopet specializing in thyroid issues (www.hemopet.org).

 

It only took a couple of days for the results to come back, and we were astonished to find that despite no clinical signs other than the aggression, Murphy was at the end-stage of hypothyroidism (see his levels below). His values were up to ten times lower than they should be for a dog of his breed and age!

 

Within 48 hours of simple treatment with inexpensive thyroid meds ($5-10 a month), Murphy was back to his old self. His eyes softened and we stopped seeing the freezing, growling and snarling that were a frequent occurance before the treatment.

 

We are incredibly thankful to have our sweet, mushy border collie back, but we wonder how many dogs die needlessly because people are not aware of the link between thyroid issues and aggression. Please spread the word.

 

MurphyThyroid.jpg

P.S. This topic might fall under the Health section, but I feel it is important that more people read it, so I am posting it here. Eileen, feel free to move it if need be.

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Thanks for posting. Good to get the word out and I'm sure glad you got your dog back!

 

On a side note, I actually thought that was a picture of me and my dog that my browser had somehow slotted into the post: https://picasaweb.google.com/102389485335542185525/Trials?authkey=Gv1sRgCMztm_LkpqS4ag#5537431211026259874

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I am so happy for you and Murphy. It is well you were aware of the connection between the thyroid and aggression. Now thanks to you and your vet Murphy can have the long and happy life he deserves. :)

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Wow. Thank you for sharing your story, this is good information for any dog owner to be aware of. I'm so glad you were able to get Murphy back to his normal self.

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Yes, I had heard of this correlation - hypothyroidism and aggression in dogs. I am glad you were able to diagnose Murphy's condition.

 

Interestingly, when I was determined to be hypothyroid last year (although I don't think my levels were as low as Murphy's), all I wanted to do was take a nap every afternoon. Not a lot of aggression from me. :)

 

Jovi

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Thank you, I probably never would have read this in the health section. I'm really happy you got your sweetheart back!

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I read this thread this morning and my heart sank.

 

As many of you know, Scooter, our six year old Border Collie, suddenly and viciously attacked me in February. One minute he was hugging me and kissing my face and the next minute he lunged at me, knocking me to the floor, growling and biting me repeatedly. I believe if DH hadn't been home, he would have killed me. It all happened so fast, and everyone said I had to have him put down after such an unprovoked attack. I was certainly in no mental condition to make an informed decision at the time and the vet on duty that day offered us no other options. Two hours after the attack, he was euthanized.

 

We were so rattled, we didn't ask for a necropsy and the vet told us it was probably a brain tumor. But I've had this nagging feeling ever since that maybe it was something that could have been fixed, such as low thyroid. He had several of the symptoms you mention. But he also had symptoms of a brain tumor.

 

Did we kill a dog that could have been helped? I'll never know. I thought I had accepted the brain tumor theory but today the old doubts came rushing back.

 

I'm happy you and your guy had a good outcome and I hope it helps others who may be experiencing these troubling symptoms, possibly preventing the needless death of a treasured companion.

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Thanks everyone, I am sure glad we figured this out.

 

Did we kill a dog that could have been helped? I'll never know. I thought I had accepted the brain tumor theory but today the old doubts came rushing back.

 

bc4ever, for whatever it's worth, had I been attacked the way you were, I would have done the same thing - knowing about the possibility of thyroid or not... There is no way I could ever trust a dog that attacked a human this way. It will take me a very long time to trust Murphy again, and he never broke skin. Sorry I brought the bad memories back, that certainly wasn't my intention.

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bc4ever, for whatever it's worth, had I been attacked the way you were, I would have done the same thing - knowing about the possibility of thyroid or not... There is no way I could ever trust a dog that attacked a human this way. It will take me a very long time to trust Murphy again, and he never broke skin. Sorry I brought the bad memories back, that certainly wasn't my intention.

No, don't apologize, please. The bad memories will always be there no matter what, but my hope is that they will eventually co-exist with the good ones. It just takes time, this physical and emotional healing. It's a process and the brain is very good at planting those little seeds of doubt sometimes. I'm very happy that you were able to find the answer to your dog's strange behavior and I'm glad you wrote about it. Knowledge is power. That's why we come here.

 

Pam

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I also want to add sometimes it can be other illness that bring on aggression. A couple of years ago I had Brodys thyroid tested as he was "snappy" but that was fine, but the problem persisted turns out he had lyme. Fast forward to a couple of months ago and we were getting concerned as he was back to being mean again. Lyme was back.

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I also want to add sometimes it can be other illness that bring on aggression.

 

Absolutely! It is always a good idea to have your dog checked out by a vet, and even get a second opinion if the behavior is so worrisome. A couple of years ago, we accepted a dog into NEBCR because he was snapping at the toddler in the home - it turns out that he had severe hip dysplasia and was in excruciating pain every time the kid leaned on him. NEBCR covered his surgery and it turns out he likes children after all. :)

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BC4ever, virtually all behaviorists and dog behavior experts who know what they are doing will tell you that a dog that commits a level 4+ bite is beyond rehabilitation. They are not just not safe to have around and are a serious liability. Some day you will come to terms with your decision.

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