Dogs don’t speak our languages, but it’s amazing how well we can still communicate with each other. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering dogs and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Still, though, there are some behavior changes in our dogs that might go unnoticed because of their subtlety. Remember, dogs are very stoic animals, so even if the change seems minor to you, it could signify a big problem for your dog.
#1 – Sudden Aggression
Dogs don’t become aggressive overnight without there being a significant underlying issue. If your dog has never shown any aggression before, it’s a good idea to take a trip to the veterinarian. The older your dog is without exhibiting aggressive before, the more alarming its onset should be. While aggression is often a training issue, it can also be caused by medical conditions. For example, brain tumors or seizures can create aggressive behavior that was never seen before. If your dog is in pain, he may only be able to tell you by growling or biting when touched in the sensitive area. Sometimes a loss of hearing or eyesight can make your dog feel more vulnerable, so he shows aggression out of fear. Regardless of what is happening, aggression shouldn’t be ignored and before you call a trainer, your best bet is to get a check-up with your veterinarian.
#2 – Appetite Changes
Your dog’s appetite can change for a variety of reasons, many of which are medical concerns. If you notice your dog can’t seem to be satisfied after a meal, more so than the average begging for snacks, you’ll want your veterinarian to rule out underlying causes. An increased appetite can be caused by very many ailments. On the flip side, your dog might lose her appetite completely if she’s feeling ill. This should call for a veterinary visit as well, because the causes for a decrease in appetite are almost limitless – from a minor upset stomach to a very serious illness.
#3 – Hiding
If your dog normally greets you and friends at the door and is suddenly avoiding saying hello, there’s likely something going on that needs to be addressed. Most dogs generally don’t hide, as they are very social animals and want to be with their people. However, they might be in pain or not feeling well in some other way that makes them not want to interact with friends or family members alike. A friendly dog that suddenly hides is cause for concern and you should consider a veterinary visit.
#4 – Lethargy
Lethargy is always cause for concern, especially in a dog that is normally very active. For our more couch potato companions, it can be more difficult to spot their lethargy, but it can be done. In fact, most owners are in touch enough with their dogs that they notice even a slight activity change. We can expect our dogs to be tired after a big outing, such as a camping trip or perhaps a training weekend if we compete in any dog sports, but unordinary lethargy should not be ignored.
#5 – Weight Changes
Just like in people, unexpected weight changes should not be taken lightly. A sudden increase or decrease in your dog’s weight, regardless of how much they are eating, should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Thyroid disease, cancers, diabetes, kidney disease and many more all cause changes in weight. If you notice a difference, consult your veterinarian before just changing your dog’s diet.
#6 – Needless Panting
Dogs pant to regulate their body temperatures and we should certainly expect them to do so. Panting during physical exercise or a heat wave is not out of the ordinary, but panting while lying around the house or while standing outside in snow should be taken into account. Dogs not only pant to stay cool, they pant due to stress. Emotional stress, such as fear and anxiety, can cause panting in dogs. Physical stress, like pain, will also bring your dog to pant when normally they wouldn’t. If you notice panting you don’t think is really necessary, consider a trip to the veterinarian.