Dear Daisy Dog
We have a six-year-old Akita who has recently become cranky. She is spayed and seems healthy other than the crankiness.
We have no children, and as far as I can see, there isn’t much stress in her life. What can we do about this problem?
Ask your veterinarian to do a thorough physical exam and some lab work.
Pain, especially back or joint pain, is a common cause of crankiness. Your veterinarian may detect musculoskeletal pain during the physical exam, or it may be suggested if radiographs (x-rays) show degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis.
I can tell you from personal experience that bladder infections are painful, so ask your veterinarian to do a urinalysis to be sure your dog isn’t suffering from a urinary tract infection.
Another place pain can hide is in the mouth. If your veterinarian doesn’t see any obvious oral problems, consider having your dog anesthetized for a dentistry and a thorough oral exam.
I know an Akita who became grumpy when his thyroid gland was underactive. Other common signs of hypothyroidism are lethargy, decreased exercise tolerance, weight gain, hair loss and dry skin and haircoat.
But in some dogs, the only sign of hypothyroidism is unexplained aggression.
In addition, any disease that makes your dog feel yucky also might make her cranky. So be sure your veterinarian does a full blood panel to rule out such problems as diabetes, kidney disease and liver dysfunction.
If physical problems are ruled out, talk with your veterinarian about referring you to a veterinary behaviorist for further evaluation.