• Call us: 020 3468 2848

first aid

  • The cruciate ligaments, in simple terms, are like two pieces of strong elastic that hold the knee together.
  • If a cruciate ligament is damaged the knee becomes wobbly and often very painful.
  • The most common way for a dog to damage a cruciate ligament is by jumping, skidding, twisting or turning awkwardly.
  • Limping is often the first sign of a cruciate problem.
  • Cruciate problems can be treated with or without surgery – your vet will help you decide which is best for your dog.
  • Any dog can injure their cruciate ligament, but it's more common in those that are overweight or that have an inherited weakness.
  • Always book an appointment with your vet if your dog is limping or if you suspect they might have injured their knee.

What is a cruciate ligament injury?

A cruciate ligament injury is damage to one (or both) of the cruciate ligaments, either a small tear or a complete rupture.

Some cruciate ligaments break after being weakened over time (like a fraying rope), and some rupture suddenly (often due to a knock or fall).

Illustration showing cruciate damage.


Symptoms of cruciate damage

Cruciate ligament damage can cause symptoms that vary from a slight limp to being unable to put any weight on the leg at all. Symptoms often come on quite suddenly and include:

  • Limping (mild to severe)
  • Stiffness getting up and down
  • Back leg pain
  • Swelling in one or both knees
  • Walking in an unusual way
Illustration showing location of cruciate ligament in dogs

When to contact your vet

Contact your vet for an appointment if your dog is limping or you suspect they may have a cruciate ligament injury.


To diagnose cruciate disease your vet will feel for abnormal movement in the knee joint and take X-rays.

Treatment options

Some cruciate injuries need surgery and some can be treated without, your vet will help you decide which option is best for you and your dog.

Without surgery ('conservative treatment')

Treatment without surgery (‘conservative treatment’) relies on building extra strength around the knee to take the strain off the cruciate ligaments. This type of treatment is mostly used in dogs that weight less than 10kg and dogs with mild signs. Treatment usually includes:

Conservative treatment often takes a few weeks to a few months but if it’s not successful or suitable, surgery may be recommended.


There are a few different surgical options for cruciate disease. The best option will depend on your dog’s weight and size, and whether referral to a specialist surgeon is an option. Speak to your vet for more information.

After surgery, your dog will need to recover for several weeks. They will need pain relief, strict rest and a very gradual and controlled return to exercise. Your vet will give you specific instructions tailored to your dog - it’s vitally important to follow these to make sure that your dog has the best chance of recovery.

Ongoing care and outlook

With treatment and a good recovery, it’s likely that your dog will return to living a relatively normal life. However, around one third of dogs who have had a cruciate ligament injury, develop a similar problem in the other knee at some point later in their life, so it’s important to protect them from injuring themselves again by:

Sensible exercise

Once your dog has recovered, normal walking and running is fine but they should avoid very strenuous activities such as ball chasing, jumping and skidding.

Weight control

It’s important to keep your dog fit and slim to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on their joints and to slow the development of arthritis later in life.


Dogs who have had cruciate ligament damage nearly always develop arthritis later in life. For this reason, your vet will recommend regular check-ups and possibly joint supplements.​

Preventing cruciate disease

The two best things you can do to prevent cruciate problems in your dog is to:

  • Keep them slim - overweight dogs are much more likely to develop a cruciate ligament injury because of the extra strain on their joints.
  • Give them sensible exercise - keep your dog fit, build their fitness up gradually, never push them hard to do more than they are used to. Unless your dog is very fit, limit strenuous exercise such as jumping, skidding and chasing.

Which breeds are at risk of cruciate disease?

Cruciate injuries can develop in any dog, but there are certain breeds (such as the LabradorRottweiler and Newfoundland) that are slightly more at risk. However, dogs most at risk of an injury are those that are overweight, and those that tear around on uneven ground, chasing, turning quickly, skidding and jumping.


Treatment for a cruciate injury can cost a lot of money. It’s impossible to give exact pricings because each vet clinic varies and cost depends on the size of the dog and treatment needed.

Always speak to your vet if you can’t afford the treatment they have recommended, there might be other options.

Consider insuring your dog as soon as you get them, before any signs of illness start. This will ensure you have all the support you need to care for them. When starting an insurance policy, always check the level of cover you are paying for.

NOTES WITH THANKS TO: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/pet-health-hub/conditions/cruciate-ligament-damage-in-dogs



Separation Anxiety


One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. Their dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape. Although these problems often indicate that a dog needs to be taught polite house manners, they can also be symptoms of distress. When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, they aren’t evidence that the dog isn’t house trained or doesn’t know which toys are his to chew. Instead, they are indications that the dog has separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.

Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety become agitated when their guardians prepare to leave. Others seem anxious or depressed prior to their guardians’ departure or when their guardians aren’t present. Some try to prevent their guardians from leaving. Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone—often within minutes. When the guardian returns home, the dog acts as though it’s been years since he’s seen his mom or dad!

When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate separation anxiety:

Urinating and Defecating
Some dogs urinate or defecate when left alone or separated from their guardians. If a dog urinates or defecates in the presence of his guardian, his house soiling probably isn’t caused by separation anxiety.

Barking and Howling
A dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian. This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.

Chewing, Digging and Destruction
Some dogs with separation anxiety chew on objects, door frames or window sills, dig at doors and doorways, or destroy household objects when left alone or separated from their guardians. These behaviors can result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped paws and damaged nails. If a dog’s chewing, digging and destruction are caused by separation anxiety, they don’t usually occur in his guardian’s presence.

A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where he’s confined when he’s left alone or separated from his guardian. The dog might attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, which could result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws and damaged nails. If the dog’s escape behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it doesn’t occur when his guardian is present.

Some dogs walk or trot along a specific path in a fixed pattern when left alone or separated from their guardians. Some pacing dogs move around in circular patterns, while others walk back and forth in straight lines. If a dog’s pacing behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it usually doesn’t occur when his guardian is present.

When left alone or separated from their guardians, some dogs defecate and then consume all or some of their excrement. If a dog eats excrement because of separation anxiety, he probably doesn’t perform that behavior in the presence of his guardian.

Why Do Some Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?

There is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why dogs develop separation anxiety. However, because far more dogs who have been adopted from shelters have this behavior problem than those kept by a single family since puppyhood, it is believed that loss of an important person or group of people in a dog’s life can lead to separation anxiety. Other less dramatic changes can also trigger the disorder. The following is a list of situations that have been associated with development of separation anxiety.

Change of Guardian or Family
Being abandoned, surrendered to a shelter or given to a new guardian or family can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in Schedule
An abrupt change in schedule in terms of when or how long a dog is left alone can trigger the development of separation anxiety. For example, if a dog’s guardian works from home and spends all day with his dog but then gets a new job that requires him to leave his dog alone for six or more hours at a time, the dog might develop separation anxiety because of that change.

Change in Residence
Moving to a new residence can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in Household Membership
The sudden absence of a resident family member, either due to death or moving away, can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Medical Problems to Rule Out First

Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems
Some dogs’ house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog “leaks” or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that they’ve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issues—including a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitalia—can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dog’s veterinarian to rule out medical issues.

There are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.

Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether a dog has separation anxiety or not. Some common behavior problems can cause similar symptoms. Before concluding that your dog has separation anxiety, it’s important to rule out the following behavior problems:

Submissive or Excitement Urination
Some dogs may urinate during greetings, play, physical contact or when being reprimanded or punished. Such dogs tend to display submissive postures during interactions, such as holding the tail low, flattening the ears back against the head, crouching or rolling over and exposing the belly. 

Incomplete House Training
A dog who occasionally urinates in the house might not be completely house trained. His house training might have been inconsistent or it might have involved punishment that made him afraid to eliminate while his owner is watching or nearby.

Urine Marking
Some dogs urinate in the house because they’re scent marking. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise a leg to urinate. 

Juvenile Destruction
Many young dogs engage in destructive chewing or digging while their guardians are home as well as when they’re away. Please see our articles, Destructive Chewing, for more information about these problems.

Dogs need mental stimulation, and some dogs can be disruptive when left alone because they’re bored and looking for something to do. These dogs usually don’t appear anxious.

Excessive Barking or Howling
Some dogs bark or howl in response to various triggers in their environments, like unfamiliar sights and sounds. They usually vocalize when their guardians are home as well as when they’re away. For more information about this kind of problem, please see our articles, Barking and Howling

What to Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Treatment for Mild Separation Anxiety
If your dog has a mild case of separation anxiety, counterconditioning might reduce or resolve the problem. Counterconditioning is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead. It’s done by associating the sight or presence of a feared or disliked person, animal, place, object or situation with something really good, something the dog loves. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he fears actually predicts good things for him. For dogs with separation anxiety, counterconditioning focuses on developing an association between being alone and good things, like delicious food. To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish. For example, try giving your dog a KONG® stuffed with something really tasty, like low-fat cream cheese, spray cheese or low-fat peanut butter, frozen banana and cottage cheese, or canned dog food and kibble. A KONG can even be frozen so that getting all the food out takes even more of your dog’s time. Be sure to remove these special toys as soon as you return home so that your dog only has access to them and the high-value foods inside when he’s by himself. You can feed your dog all of his daily meals in special toys. For example, you can give your dog a KONG or two stuffed with his breakfast and some tasty treats every morning before going to work. Keep in mind, though, that this approach will only work for mild cases of separation anxiety because highly anxious dogs usually won’t eat when their guardians aren’t home.

Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation Anxiety
Moderate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, it’s crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.

The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation. 

Desensitization and counterconditioning are complex and can be tricky to carry out. Fear must be avoided or the procedure will backfire and the dog will get more frightened. Because treatment must progress and change according to the pet’s reactions, and because these reactions can be difficult to read and interpret, desensitization and counterconditioning require the guidance of a trained and experienced professional. For help designing and carrying out a desensitization and counterconditioning plan, consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has education and experience in treating fear with desensitization and counterconditioning, since this kind of expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these experts in your area.

Step One: Predeparture Cues
As mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. (If your dog doesn’t show signs of anxiety when you’re preparing to leave him alone, you can just skip to step two below.) Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leave—even for just few seconds—without triggering their dogs’ extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that you’re leaving (like your putting on your coat or picking up your keys) and get so anxious about being left alone that he can’t control himself and forgets that you’ll come back.

One treatment approach to this “predeparture anxiety” is to teach your dog that when you pick up your keys or put on your coat, it doesn’t always mean that you’re leaving. You can do this by exposing your dog to these cues in various orders several times a day—without leaving. For example, put on your boots and coat, and then just watch TV instead of leaving. Or pick up your keys, and then sit down at the kitchen table for awhile. This will reduce your dog’s anxiety because these cues won’t always lead to your departure, and so your dog won’t get so anxious when he sees them. Please be aware, though, that your dog has many years of learning the significance of your departure cues, so in order to learn that the cues no longer predict your long absences, your dog must experience the fake cues many, many times a day for many weeks. After your dog doesn’t become anxious when he sees you getting ready to leave, you can move on to the next step below.

Step Two: Graduated Departures/Absences
If your dog is less anxious before you leave, you can probably skip the predeparture treatment above and start with very short departures. The main rule is to plan your absences to be shorter than the time it takes for your dog to become upset. To get started, train your dog to perform out-of-sight stays by an inside door in the home, such as the bathroom. You can teach your dog to sit or down and stay while you go to the other side of the bathroom door. (You can also contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for assistance. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate a CPDT in your area.) Gradually increase the length of time you wait on the other side of the door, out of your dog’s sight. You can also work on getting your dog used to predeparture cues as you practice the stay. For example, ask your dog to stay. Then put on your coat, pick up your purse and go into the bathroom while your dog continues to stay.

  • Progress to doing out-of-sight stay exercises at a bedroom door, and then later at an exit door. If you always leave through the front door, do the exercises at the back door first. By the time you start working with your dog at exit doors, he shouldn’t behave anxiously because he has a history of playing the “stay game.”
  • At this point, you can start to incorporate very short absences into your training. Start with absences that last only last one to two seconds, and then slowly increase the time you’re out of your dog’s sight. When you’ve trained up to separations of five to ten seconds long, build in counterconditioning by giving your dog a stuffed food toy just before you step out the door. The food-stuffed toy also works as a safety cue that tells the dog that this is a “safe” separation.
  • During your sessions, be sure to wait a few minutes between absences. After each short separation, it’s important to make sure that your dog is completely relaxed before you leave again. If you leave again right away, while your dog is still excited about your return from the previous separation, he’ll already feel aroused when he experiences the next absence. This arousal might make him less able to tolerate the next separation, which could make the problem worse rather than better.
  • Remember to behave in a very calm and quiet manner when going out and coming in. This will lower the contrast between times when you’re there and times when you’re gone.
  • You must judge when your dog is able to tolerate an increase in the length of separation. Each dog reacts differently, so there are no standard timelines. Deciding when to increase the time that your dog is alone can be very difficult, and many pet parents make errors. They want treatment to progress quickly, so they expose their dogs to durations that are too long, which provokes anxiety and worsens the problem. To prevent this kind of mistake, watch for signs of stress in your dog. These signs might include dilated pupils, panting, yawning, salivating, trembling, pacing and exuberant greeting. If you detect stress, you should back up and shorten the length of your departures to a point where your dog can relax again. Then start again at that level and progress more slowly.
  • You will need to spend a significant amount of time building up to 40-minute absences because most of your dog’s anxious responses will occur within the first 40 minutes that he’s alone. This means that over weeks of conditioning, you’ll increase the duration of your departures by only a few seconds each session, or every couple of sessions, depending on your dog’s tolerance at each level. Once your dog can tolerate 40 minutes of separation from you, you can increase absences by larger chunks of time (5-minute increments at first, then later 15-minute increments). Once your dog can be alone for 90 minutes without getting upset or anxious, he can probably handle four to eight hours. (Just to be safe, try leaving him alone for four hours at first, and then work up to eight full hours over a few days.)
  • This treatment process can be accomplished within a few weeks if you can conduct several daily sessions on the weekends and twice-daily sessions during the work week, usually before leaving for work and in the evenings.

A Necessary Component of Separation Anxiety Treatment
During desensitization to any type of fear, it is essential to ensure that your dog never experiences the full-blown version of whatever provokes his anxiety or fear. He must experience only a low-intensity version that doesn’t frighten him. Otherwise, he won’t learn to feel calm and comfortable in situations that upset him. This means that during treatment for separation anxiety, your dog cannot be left alone except during your desensitization sessions. Fortunately there are plenty of alternative arrangements:

  • If possible, take your dog to work with you.
  • Arrange for a family member, friend or dog sitter to come to your home and stay with your dog when you’re not there. (Most dogs suffering from separation anxiety are fine as long as someone is with them. That someone doesn’t necessarily need to be you.)
  • Take your dog to a sitter’s house or to a doggy daycare.
  • Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety are okay when left in a car. You can try leaving your dog in a car—but only if the weather is moderate. Be warned: dogs can suffer from heatstroke and die if left in cars in warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit and up)—even for just a few minutes. DO NOT leave your dog in a car unless you’re sure that the interior of your car won’t heat up.

In addition to your graduated absences exercises, all greetings (hellos and goodbyes) should be conducted in a very calm manner. When saying goodbye, just give your dog a pat on the head, say goodbye and leave. Similarly, when arriving home, say hello to your dog and then don’t pay any more attention to him until he’s calm and relaxed. The amount of time it takes for your dog to relax once you’ve returned home will depend on his level of anxiety and individual temperament. To decrease your dog’s excitement level when you come home, it might help to distract him by asking him to perform some simple behaviors that he’s already learned, such as sit, down or shake.

To Crate or Not to Crate?
Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go when left alone. However, for other dogs, the crate can cause added stress and anxiety. In order to determine whether or not you should try using a crate, monitor your dog’s behavior during crate training and when he’s left in the crate while you’re home. If he shows signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking), crate confinement isn’t the best option for him. Instead of using a crate, you can try confining your dog to one room behind a baby gate. 

Provide Plenty of “Jobs” for Your Dog to Do
Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors. Additionally, a physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to expend when he’s left alone. To keep your dog busy and happy, try the following suggestions:

  • Give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (for example, running and swimming) every day. Try to exercise your dog right before you have to leave him by himself. This might help him relax and rest while you’re gone.
  • Play fun, interactive games with your dog, such as fetch and tug-of-war.  
  • Take your dog on daily walks and outings. Take different routes and visit new places as often as possible so that he can experience novel smells and sights.
  • If your dog likes other dogs, let him play off-leash with his canine buddies.
  • Frequently provide food puzzle toys. You can feed your dog his meals in these toys or stuff them with a little peanut butter, cheese or yogurt. Also give your dog a variety of attractive edible and inedible chew things. Puzzle toys and chew items encourage chewing and licking, which have been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. Be sure to provide them whenever you leave your dog alone.
  • Make your dog “hunt” his meals by hiding small piles of his kibble around your house or yard when you leave. Most dogs love this game!
  • Enroll in a reward-based training class to increase your dog’s mental activity and enhance the bond between you and your dog. Contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play together. After you and your dog have learned a few new skills, you can mentally tire your dog out by practicing them right before you leave your dog home alone. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate a CPDT in your area. 
  • Get involved in dog sports, such as agility, freestyle (dancing with your dog) or flyball.

Medications Might Help
Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.

The use of medications can be very helpful, especially for severe cases of separation anxiety. Some dogs are so distraught by any separation from their pet parents that treatment can’t be implemented without the help of medication. Anti-anxiety medication can help a dog tolerate some level of isolation without experiencing anxiety. It can also make treatment progress more quickly.

On rare occasions, a dog with mild separation anxiety might benefit from drug therapy alone, without accompanying behavior modification. The dog becomes accustomed to being left alone with the help of the drug and retains this new conditioning after he’s gradually weaned off the medication. However, most dogs need a combination of medication and behavior modification.

If you’d like to explore this option, speak with your veterinarian, a veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who can work closely with your vet. Please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, to locate one of these professionals in your area.

What NOT to Do
Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.


notes with thanks to 




What is Food Aggression?

Though the definition of food aggression is simple, dealing with the behaviour certainly isn't easy.  Food aggression in dogs is a behaviour with which many pet parents must deal with on a daily basis.  Some pet parents are successful in quieting or reducing the episodes of the behaviour while others are not.  

The key to successful discouragement or elimination of the behaviour lies not in disciplinary measures but in patient retraining of your canine family member.  It is important to remember, that dogs will not attack without first giving a warning and recognizing the behaviours your dog may exhibit may prevent injury to people and other animals.

Food aggression in dogs is simply aggressive behaviour, such as growling, snapping or biting, in defence of their food bowls or tasty treats.

Symptoms of Food Aggression in Dogs

The symptoms of food aggression (also called food guarding) are pretty straightforward, ranging from warnings to actions, sometimes with only milliseconds between:

  • Stiffening
  • Gulping
  • Growling
  • Snarling and teeth showing
  • Freezing
  • Lunging 
  • Snaps or bites when feeding is interrupted

The danger here is that the object of the aggression may be another dog or cat in the family or even a toddler or child who has wandered too close to the food bowl and who doesn't understand the warnings or why they are important.



Food aggression or guarding could be typed into two categories:

Aggression toward humans

- This type of food aggression could be directed toward any human being who comes anywhere near the food bowl, kitchen where food is being prepared, the dinner table where the food is eaten or even near the leftovers.  It could also be directed at only some of the human family members, with one or two being trusted to come near the canine when he is eating.

Aggression toward other animals

- This type could include other dogs, cats or any other animals who are courageous enough to venture near the food dish when your dog is eating or is otherwise near it.

Causes of Food Aggression in Dogs

The behaviour is thought to be a throwback to the time when wild dogs had to hunt for their food and, when food resources were scarce, they had to protect what they had.  This is the same type of aggression exhibited when protecting their mates and living areas for reasons of survival.  But now they're tamed and no longer have to hunt for their food, so why does the behaviour still persist?   

Competition for food with littermates is the major cause. Most pet parents feed litters in a communal bowl and it's literally a free for all at mealtime. Oftentimes, there may be one or two puppies who dominate the food bowl at mealtimes and utilize aggression to accomplish that. Any puppy who exhibits food guarding behaviour before the age of 16 weeks should be seen by a veterinarian as this is an early sign of aggressive behaviour development

Once this behaviour has been experienced by a young puppy, it can be hard for the pup to ignore the desire or need to guard his food as he makes his new home with his new family.  This is especially so if your puppy was one of the weaker ones who kept being pushed away and had to battle to get his sustenance.

Diagnosis of Food Aggression in Dogs

To diagnose food aggression in dogs, you will likely need the services of not just your local veterinary professional but also those of an animal behaviourist.  Your complete history will be vital to your vet and will need to consist of dietary regimen, complete with the frequency, amounts of food and types of food and treats being fed.  Any history of the littermates as well as the history of the canine's interaction with other animals in the household should be noted, as well as interactions with humans in various activities. The behaviours of your canine family member should be well documented, giving your vet as much information as possible about how your pet reacts to humans and other animals at feeding time and virtually any other time he interacts with humans and animals.  

Your veterinary professional will do a physical examination and may order some tests if he suspects a systemic issue at the root of the problem.  If he suspects a food aggression or guarding behaviour, he may wish to utilize the services of an animal behaviourist to help diagnose and guide the treatment and retraining of your canine family member.

Treatment of Food Aggression in Dogs

Once your veterinary professional and the animal behaviourist have done their evaluations, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed and initiated.  Your canine family member may require some specialized home retraining to eliminate or reduce the aggressive behaviour. Since food aggression in dogs can range from mild growling to protect special treats or food to reacting to any human who comes close when he's eating to an all out biting, snapping attack, it is important to understand that not all food aggression needs to be treated.

If the aggressive behaviour being exhibited by your pet is such that there is risk of injury to humans (adults, children or toddlers) or to other household animals, a retraining program will be developed which is commensurate with the level of aggressive behaviour being displayed. These training programs are generally multi-stage or multi-step processes which will gradually teach your pet that they need not fear the loss of food or other resources which they have traditionally protected.

Recovery of Food Aggression in Dogs

It is important for you to understand that the older the animal is when this training is developed, the harder it may be to retrain him.  It may also require a longer training period to achieve reduction or elimination of the behaviour. It is for this reason that we emphasize that aggressive behaviour not be ignored or & blown off.  Your canine family member needs help, love and patience to overcome these undesirable habits and behaviours but the result will be a safer and more loving environment for all parties involved.  

Of course, in the event that either no training is recommended or that the training is simply not successful, remember that you can always make adjustments at home at feeding time to isolate your pet.  If this is the course that is chosen, it is important to remember that no food should be left down for your pet unless it is time for his meal.


NOTES WITH THANKS TO : https://wagwalking.com/condition/food-aggression



What is Addison’s disease?

Also known as hypoadrenocorticism, Addison’s disease is a potentially life-threatening deficiency in hormones produced by the adrenal glands.

These glands, located near the kidney, produce hormones such as cortisol, a stress hormone, and aldosterone, which regulates salt, sugar and water balance in the body.

Dogs with insufficient levels of these hormones can become very unwell. Addison’s disease is more common in young to middle-aged dogs, particularly females.

What are the symptoms of Addison's in dogs?

Signs of Addison’s in dogs typically include lethargy, lack of appetite, depression, reluctance to exercise, vomiting and diarrhoea. These may appear very suddenly and can be both intermittent and severe. Dogs suffering from the illness may also drink more and urinate more. It has been known for dogs with Addison’s to arrive at the vets extremely ill, in shock or collapsed, and almost in a coma. This is called an Addisonian crisis.

What causes Addison's in dogs?

Addison’s disease is usually caused by immune-mediated destruction of the adrenal glands. This means the dog’s immune system has become compromised and the adrenal glands have been damaged or attacked and therefore cannot produce enough hormones. Other less common causes include cancer and infections.

There are two types of Addison’s. The most common, or typical, form is due to lack of both glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids and can be fatal. The less common, or atypical, form of Addison’s is due to a lack of glucocorticoids alone.

How is Addison's disease in dogs diagnosed?

Dogs with suspected Addison’s often collapse due to dehydration, low sodium, high potassium, low blood sugar and high calcium. Diagnostic tests on kidneys may also show up
as abnormal.

In general, these clinical signs are enough for the vet to start treatment until a final diagnosis is established.

A final diagnosis is made if and when the vet establishes either very low levels of cortisol in the blood or by performing an ACTH stimulation test with a documented ‘little to no increase’ in the production of cortisol.

Is stress a factor in Addison's disease?

One of the reasons adrenal glands produce cortisol is to help dogs deal with stress and illness. If a dog cannot make enough of this hormone they may not be able to deal with stress or their symptoms will worsen when they are stressed. Stress is generally caused by a change in the dog’s routine. It’s important to minimise stress from your dog’s life.

Dogs who are very sick with Addison’s disease will often require hospitalisation and intravenous fluids.

What is the treatment for Addison's?

Dogs who are very sick with Addison’s will usually require IV fluids and close monitoring in hospital of their electrolytes (sodium and potassium). High levels of potassium can cause heart arrhythmias and lead to death. Once your pet has been stabilised in hospital and a diagnosis has been established, they will likely be started on their long term medication before going home.

Medication for Addison’s disease is needed for life and patients typically to do very well on it. Cases of typical Addison’s are treated with a combination of corticosteroids
(prednisolone) and mineralocorticoids (Zycortal). Zycortal is given by injection every 25 days. Dogs who only lack the corticosteroids (atypical cases), are only given prednisolone and monitored, although over time they might end up needing additional medication. Initially, when treatment is first started, your vet will need to recheck your pet’s electrolytes regularly to ensure the medication is working. This close monitoring will be reduced over time.

What is the prognosis?

As long as dogs receive the appropriate treatment, they can live a long and happy life. It’s worth noting, however, that anything that prevents the dog from getting their medication is likely to result in an emergency. Dogs with Addison’s have a lower immune system so even minor illnesses can be life-threatening and may not respond to treatment. The stress brought on by such an illness can lead rapidly to an Addisonian crisis.


NOTES WITH THANKS TO https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/addisons-in-dogs/


Cushing's syndrome happens when your dog’s body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol. This chemical help them respond to stress, control their weight, fight infections, and keep their blood sugar levels in check. But too much or too little of it can cause problems.

Cushing’s, which is also known as hypercortisolism and hyperadrenocorticism, can be tricky for a vet to diagnose, because it has the same symptoms as other conditions. The key is to let your vet know about anything that’s different about your pet.

In some cases, surgery can cure dogs of the problem. If your pup can’t have an operation, they can take medicine to control their cortisol levels.


The condition mostly affects middle-aged and older dogs, and the warning signs may be harder to spot in the beginning.

You might notice your dog:

  • Is thirstier than usual
  • Seems hungrier
  • Pees more often; housebroken dogs may have indoor accidents.
  • Loses hair or it seems slow to grow
  • Gets a pot belly
  • Has thinning skin
  • Seems very tired and inactive
  • Pants a lot
  • Gets skin infections

Types of Cushing's Syndrome

Many animals can get this condition. People can get it too.

There are two major types that affect dogs:

  •  Pituitary dependent. This form is the most common, affecting about 80% to 90% of the animals who have Cushing's. It happens when there’s a tumor in a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, called the pituitary.
  •  Adrenal dependent. This type comes from a tumor in one of the glands that sit on top of the kidneys, called adrenal glands. About 15% of diagnosed dogs will have this type.

Another kind, called iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome, happens after a dog has taken steroids for a long time.

Getting Your Dog Diagnosed

There’s no method that’s 100% accurate for diagnosing Cushing's. So the vet will do a few tests to see what may be causing your pet's symptoms and to rule out other health problems.

Your vet will start by testing your dog’s blood and their pee. These exams can detect diluted urine, urinary tract infections, or problems with a group of enzymes mostly found in the liver and bones called alkaline phosphatase. All of these are common in animals with Cushing’s. If the results show signs of the condition, your vet will follow up with hormone screening tests, such as:

  •  ACTH stimulation test. It measures how well the adrenal glands work in response to a hormone called ACTH that usually prompts them to make cortisol. The vet will take blood samples before and after your dog gets a shot of ACTH to see how the hormone affected them.  
  •  Low dose dexamethasone suppression (LDDS) test looks at how your dog’s body works with a man-made version of cortisol, called dexamethasone. Blood samples before and after they gets a shot of the hormone help the vet see what’s going on.

If it seems like your pup could have Cushing’s, your vet might want to do an ultrasound scan of his belly. This imaging test will help them see if there’s a tumor on the adrenal glands. That could affect the kind of treatment they need.


If Cushing’s syndrome comes from a tumor on your pet’s adrenal glands, the vet might be able to remove it with surgery, which will cure him of the problem. But if the tumor has spread to other parts of their body or they have other health problems, surgery may not be an option.

Usually, a dog can live an active, normal life with medication to treat the condition, though they’ll need it for the rest of their life. Drugs are best for dogs with Cushing’s syndrome caused by the pituitary gland or for those with a tumor on their adrenal gland that can't be removed with surgery.


The most common drug is trilostane (Vetoryl). Mitotane (Lysodren) is an older drug that vets don’t prescribe much anymore. It causes many side effects, but it may cost less. Your pup will need regular check-ups and blood tests to make sure their treatment is working.

If your pet has iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome, your vet can try to gradually stop giving them steroids. But the original condition they were treating will probably come back.

The most important thing you can do is to follow your dog's treatment plan. Keep a close watch on their behavior and symptoms, and give them the right medication doses at the right times. You and your vet can work together to help them live a happy, healthy life.


notes with thanks to : https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/cushings-syndrome