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Steroids and behaviour problems

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Rkenyavic, Mar 25, 2011.


  1. Rkenyavic

    Rkenyavic PetForums Newbie

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    Hello all,

    Im new here, so hello to everyone.

    Nearly a month ago i adopted a beautiful terrier from the local rescue centre and named him Alfie. He is around about one year old and has a lovely temperment, hes such a sweetie and adores both myself and my partner already. Hes a norfolk/border cross and has neverending energy!

    On Sunday morning we noticed something was very wrong with him, he had a horrendous squealing bark and his legs were shaking. We rushed him straight to our vets who did lots of tests and couldnt find all that much apart from a very small hole in his oesophagus, which she said shouldnt really have caused him so much discomfort but gave us antibiotics and soothing medication for his throat. This appeared to be working until monday night but then he hopped off of the sofa and held one of his back legs up. We rang the vet 24hr helpline and then took him in the morning, by which time he was shaky all over, running a temperature and panting as well as limping. He was immediately admitted and put on fluids and to cut a long story short, early the next day he was diagnosed with meningitis. He was prescribed prednisolone 10mg 2 x daily and started on Wednesday midday. He made such a vast improvement that we were allowed to take him home on Thursday late afternoon.

    He was understandably tired and a little stiff when we got him home, but other than that seemed pretty much like his old self and on the mend. We wanted to let him sleep upstairs on his normal bed in our bedroom so we could keep a very close eye on him and listen out incase he needed to go to the toilet (he had been on a lot of fluids and passing a lot of water).

    I went to pick him up off the bed to put him down (never normally an issue) and he growled and snapped at me, biting my hand quite hard - not hard enough to break the skin, but it certainly hurt! I left him for a couple of minutes and pottered around whilst my partner talked to him to make sure he was actually fully awake and aware. I then tried again and got bitten even harder. My partner then took him downstairs to the puppy crate where he normally sleeps and i can only describe the dog as completely enraged, he bit my partner repeatedly, tried to wriggle free and was making a completely ungodly gutteral sound. He had his steroids around 4 hours before this.
    We didnt know what to think and just hoped he would sleep well downstairs. In the morning i rang the vets to ask about his behaviour and she agreed it was completely unlike the sweet little dog she had gotten to know. She wanted to see him to make sure he wasnt in any pain
    that might be causing him to snap. She found nothing and he was as good as gold at and on the way to the surgery even when provoked by a fericious lurcher in a muzzle. He had his next steroid dose at 10am and when i came home from work at 1, he was playing gentle fetch with me in the garden and being normal. I then tried to put him back in his puppy crate before I left and he snapped again this time biting me worse then before and continued to growl. I had to get back to work, so i threw a towel over him and lifted him quickly into the crate all of the while he was barking, and making the same horrible gutteral sound. I closed the door and he continued to make the same growling sound, baring his teeth at me and swiping at me with his paws.

    I suggested to the vet that this was due to the prednisolone (in human children these cause horrendous behaviour problems) and she said she had never seen this before in dogs. I looked on the internet and there seems to be multiple cases of owners and vets seeing the same thing. Im now writing the evening after he went for me at lunch (hes had no steroids since 10am this morning) and hes been perfect all evening and currently asleep on my feet! Im really sorry for the very long message, its upsetting me a lot and i guess my real question is...has anyone else experienced this with corticosteroids like prrednisolone (also called prednisone)? I know its just not him...and the vet is recommending an MRI to investigate, but im convinced his agression is due to the steroids.

    Thanks for any thoughts or comments x
     
  2. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Ive found with mine steroids has made them very hyper, they also drink and pee a lot and seem ravenous as it makes them hungry and thirsty.

    Im pretty sure there are different types of meningitis too, think it can be bacterial or viral. If its like humans think you can get head and neck pain. Dogs in pain can become very agressive, and they can become snappy when generally unwell too. Do you think he can be in pain or is just feeling so unwell that could be causing some of it too? I have read too like you of cases where owners say the steroid can make them aggressive though.
     
  3. Agree with Sled dog re dogs on steriods being extra hungry and agressive.
    Has you vet made any recommendations regarding feeding i'e sitting the dog upright in a chair
     
  4. Malmum

    Malmum PetForums VIP

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    Meninggitis is extremely painful and I don't know whether your boy had any cerebal spianl fluid removed for testing but that in itself is painful afterwards. The brain loses some of the cushioning from the fluid loss and sinks slightly in the skull. I had to lie flat for 48 hours after a lumber puncture until the C S fluid is replaced otherwise you get an excruciating head ache - just a thought. I had the viral kind which is much milder and I had awful symptoms, so bacterial must be much worse.

    Poor boy is probably confused too as even your hearing is affected, it's like hearing things under water and very muffled, sight is not normal either, so just remember how serious this is in humans and just because the dog can't say it must be the same for him too - whether bacterial or viral.

    Bruce and Kali have both had steroids in the past and neither have been aggressive, just hungry and thirsty - so i'd put his aggression down to the meningitis more than anything else. I hope he's also on pain killers as well as steroids and what about anti biotics, if it's bacterial he'll need these too.

    Lets know how he gets on poor baby. :(
     
    #4 Malmum, Mar 26, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  5. Rkenyavic

    Rkenyavic PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for all of your suggestions and help - the vet did check him over very thoroughly and said there seemed to be no 'pressure points' which caused him pain. Its just upset me a lot that hes snapped - he did it again last night when we went to put him in his crate for bed. We put him in the cloakroom for 15mins to calm down then attached his lead and led him into the crate. He resisted against the lead but did not get violent when we gently pushed him in. Nice and calm for him and us before bed. Hes the same sweet dog he always was 99% of the time, just when we try to put him to bed he gets very angry. I really hope this is just the steroids, i can't have an agressive dog - im trying to be normal around him but he puts me on edge at the moment and im sure he senses im not 100% normal around him, which probably won't help.
     
  6. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Has all this started, since he had to stay in the vets when he was ill and is the only time he is aggressive and snappy when you put him in the crate?
    If so I think thats the possible problem, He would be in a cage in the vets, Im just wondering if he became so stressed in there, he now has a really negative association with the crate now and by putting him against his will and when he is noe unsure of it tips him over the edge and it manifests in redirected fear aggression.
     
  7. Rkenyavic

    Rkenyavic PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Sled Dog,

    Thanks for your post - i did consider this, but we have had no reports of him being overly stressed around people at least at the vets - he was very sociable and sweet towards the nurses and whilst i was there was jumping in and out of his cage with the door open at will. Also, we leave the crate open during the day at home, and he often goes in of his own will and has a nap during the day.

    Tonight we have basically tried to not let him get worked up about it at all - he went for a short walk, we kept him on the lead and led him directly in the door and to his crate. He resisted going in by backing off, but did not growl and was not agressive at all - after some persuasion with some banana, he allowed us to gently push him in and take his collar off. He did whine for a couple of minutes when we had disappeared upstairs, but has quietened down now. I think maybe avoiding the situation entirely by not allowing him to become agressive might be a good idea? Im still a little unsteady with him when bedtime comes, but im sure ill get to trust him again, it is true to say we havent even known each other that long and hes been at the vets for a long time during that :eek:
     
  8. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    If he was a really stable loving dog until the illness and the stay in the vets,
    for whatever reason it is, it does seem it all started with his illness, the stay in the vets and especially the first day or two at home. As you had him a relatively short time too before all this happened it could be just the fact he is unwell and with all the upheaval it has made him stressed to a degree. One of mine had a vet stay at a specialist for a couple of days a few weeks back and he was jumpy and not himself for a day or too after he was home, Although he does seem a bit hesitant still about the nighttime routine of going in the crate, from what I can make out from your post there doesnt seem to have been the growling and snapping? Maybe he is starting to feel better now and more settled. Dogs who feel below par, and or stressed can revert to being snappy and growling. Hopefully this will completely pass now as he settles.
     
  9. Malmum

    Malmum PetForums VIP

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    Why don't you put treats at the back of the crate so as he will go in of his own accord. Something he really likes, like chicken or cheese - that's how I got Flynn to go in his crate on his own and he was over two before he even saw a crate. Bribery often works wonders. :)
     
  10. Malmum

    Malmum PetForums VIP

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    Why don't you put treats at the back of the crate so as he will go in of his own accord. Something he really likes, like chicken or cheese - that's how I got Flynn to go in his crate on his own and he was over two before he even saw a crate, I used to let him see me throw them in and he'd just go in after them. Bribery often works wonders. :)
     
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