DEAR DR. FOX: Last month, I adopted a 7-year-old beagle mix. He gets along with the other two beagle mixes I have, but while he's asleep at night, he occasionally starts a fight with the other male dog.
Can this be a night tremor? Or some repeated dream stemming from, perhaps, previous abuse? -- L.H., Cleveland
DEAR L.H.: I commend you for adopting an older dog. When I had three dogs, I had a pack, and that was both entertaining and excellent social stimulation for them.
Our recently adopted 3-year-old dog who came up to the shelter here in Minnesota from an overcrowded shelter in Alabama showed clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. These included sleeping most of the time for the first three to four weeks we had her, and awakening with a startle and seeming disoriented. She made running movements and whined or growled in her sleep, and on three occasions, she gave the most heart-wrenching long, deep howl that I have ever heard -- all during her dream-state. On many occasions we would gently awaken her and give her reassurance.
In my opinion, your dog most probably suffers from PTSD, and his behavior and emotional state while in a semi-awakened state could upset one or both of the other two dogs and trigger aggressive interaction.
I would give him 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin before the long night sleep, this being effective for many older, anxious dogs in helping them get a more restful sleep. If that does not prove effective, discuss with your veterinarian a prescription of trazodone (not tramadol) for a few days, which can help dogs with separation anxiety and acts as a mild sedative.
FDA INVESTIGATING COMPLAINTS RELATED TO THYROID HORMONE LEVELS IN DOG FOOD
The Food and Drug Administration has investigated four cases of canine illness that were found to be related to ingesting high levels of beef thyroid hormone, which can cause increased thirst and urination, weight loss and elevated heart rate, among other issues. Three cases occurred after the dogs ate a canned variety of food made by Wellness, and one case involved a canned food manufactured by Blue Buffalo; certain lots under both brands have been recalled. Subsequently the FDA issued a warning/alert to consumers, vets and the pet food industry regarding the risk to pets of food and treats made with “livestock gullets,” which can contain thyroid gland tissue.
This is one of the continuing hazards of recycling animal parts that are considered unfit for human consumption into pet food, as well as slaughter processing plants that supply pet food being lax in exercising due vigilance.
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