Published on August 3rd, 2017 | by Debbie Martin0
Living with Grumpy or Grouchy Dogs and Cats
All of us who share our lives with dogs and cats will no doubt have at some point or another had at least one pet that falls into the grumpy category. Websites like YouTube and Instagram are packed with uploaded photos of pets looking less than pleased with their lot in life and very amusing they are too.
When the dog or cat in our life becomes a little grumpy or grouchy we often put it down to them having ‘senior moments’, much like we ourselves do as we get older. Senior dogs and cats will, like us develop aches and pains that are associated with advancing years and that these are something to be simply put up with. The grumpiness that emanates from our pets is simply a side-effect that we will just have to get used to.
They Can’t Tell Us What’s Wrong
But what if this bad temper has a cause? Younger animals can also develop undesirable behaviour or personality changes where they suddenly, or over a period of time, start to exhibit unexpected aggression towards the family. How many times has a dog or cat owner called in a pet behaviourist to ‘sort out’ a problem without first wondering what has caused the problem to come about? Many pet behaviourists have reported that in many cases they have advised the owner to first take their pet to a vet for a check-up to find out if there is an underlying medical reason for the sudden change in behaviour.
This is very wise advice because there may well be a good reason why your dog or cat has suddenly started lashing out if you attempt to touch or pet them or if you try to attach the lead to go for a walk. Anyone who has ever suffered aches and pains, the flu, had a monster headache or just simply felt under the weather will know how it feels to want to be left alone. Humans are lucky in that when we feel ill we can tell our friends and family exactly what bothers us and we can issue instructions that we are to be left to wallow in our misery. We can take the appropriate medication to ease the symptoms and we can then take to our beds until the situation improves and we start to feel better.
Our pets can’t do this even though they often suffer the same kind of pain and illness that we do. They can’t explain what’s wrong or where it hurts. They can only react and try to indicate by their behaviour that they want to be left alone. Unfortunately this reactive behaviour often includes aggression. When an animal feels pain or discomfort in a particular part of the body they will try to protect it by either growling or biting in an effort to tell you to move away.
How Do I Know if my Pet is Ill?
If pain strikes suddenly it is quite obvious if the animal starts to excessively lick the affected area or exhibits whimpering or crying. These signs are easy to deal with and a clear indication that you should see the vet immediately. But sometimes pain and illness are not obvious and your pet’s sudden aggressive behaviour leaves you scratching your head in puzzlement. Signs that your dog or cat could be in pain include things like moving away from you when normally they would be happy to have physical contact with you; they may growl, scratch, nip or bite you unexpectedly. They may try to hide from you and will seek out a quiet place where you can’t get to them. In some cases they may go off their food or they may start to have ‘accidents’ in the home even though they are fully housetrained. Vomiting or diarrhoea should always be taken as an indication that something is not right but sometimes it’s something as simple as you feeling that your pet is just not themselves. If this is the kind of thing you have noticed then take your pet to a vet straight away for a diagnosis.
If your pet has reached the stage when it starts to cry out this is an indication of something which warrants immediate medical attention so don’t waste time researching on the internet or asking friends what to do. Animals often conceal pain, sometimes for a long time before they start to vocalise so at this stage they could well be feeling very poorly indeed. Unlike humans, animals tend not to make a big fuss over trivial things and, like humans, some animals are more stoical than others and can tolerate a huge amount of pain before making their predicament obvious. So don’t delay if your pet starts to show signs of discomfort and make that phone call.
Signs to Watch For
It’s easy to miss the signs that your pet is ill but these are the main ones to watch for:
- Avoidance – if he doesn’t want physical contact, moves away from you or doesn’t want to leave his bed. Doesn’t want to go outside, play or go for a walk.
- Aggression – if you try to force physical contact on them or make them move when they don’t want to they may have no choice but to react in the only way they know, by biting or scratching.
- Licking and chewing – even if they can’t get to the actual site of the pain they may lick or chew themselves in the part they can get to. Licking can be comforting to the animal but could lead to bald or sore patches. If they’re unable to lick or chew they may rub along the ground for relief and may object forcibly if you try to stop them.
- General grumpiness in seniors – if your elderly pet becomes grouchy don’t just put it down to their age. Arthritis and digestive upsets can be easily treated to provide comfort in old age.
Finally, proper bedding can help to alleviate any aches and pains so make sure they have a comfortable bed to sleep on. Regulate exercise for senior or poorly pets and make regular check-up appointments with the vet so that changes can be spotted and treated early. Watch out for behaviour changes and act on them.