Archive for the ‘Behavior and Training’ Category

Bumper toys appear to leach plastic compounds, study finds

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Plastic bumpers used to train retrieving dogs appear to leach bisphenol A and phthalates, according to research from Texas Tech University. The researchers found that bumpers exposed to artificial dog saliva and simulated chewing released the chemicals. It’s not known whether the compounds put dogs at risk of any health problems. (11/29)

Dog bites BPA: Chemicals leak from plastic training toys

Dogs that chew on plastic training devices and toys may be exposed to hormone-altering chemicals, according to research at Texas Tech University. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates – ingredients of hard plastics and vinyl – readily leach from bumper toys, which are used to train retrieving dogs. The new study is one of the first to examine dog products as a potential source of exposure for pets. No one knows, though, whether the traces of the chemicals pose any health risk to dogs. “Some of the dogs are exposed to plastic bumpers from the time they are born until the day they die. We all want our pets to be healthy,” said toxicologist Philip Smith, co-author of the as-yet unpublished study.

By Lindsey Konkel Environmental Health News

Nov. 29, 2012

Dogs that chew on plastic training devices and toys may be exposed to hormone-altering chemicals, according to research at Texas Tech University.

The researchers found that bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates – ingredients of hard plastics and vinyl  – readily leach from bumper toys, which are used to train retrieving dogs.

The new study is one of the first to examine dog products as a potential source of exposure for pets. No one knows, though, whether the traces of the chemicals pose any health risk to dogs. Previous research has focused on the risks to infants and toddlers from baby bottles, toys and other items that contained the chemicals.

“A lot of plastic products are used for dogs, so to understand the potential for some of the chemicals to leach out from toys is a new and important area of research,” said veterinarian Safdar Khan, senior director of toxicology research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Poison Control Center in Illinois.  Dr. Khan was not involved in the current study.

Philip Smith, a toxicologist at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech, became interested in chemical exposures from bumpers after using them to train his own Labrador retrievers.

“Some of the dogs are exposed to plastic bumpers from the time they are born until the day they die. We all want our pets to be healthy,” said Smith, co-author of the as-yet unpublished study, which was presented this month at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference in California.

“A lot of plastic products are used for dogs, so to understand the potential for some of the chemicals to leach out from toys is a new and important area of research.” -Dr. Safdar Khan, ASPCA Poison Control Center   In humans and rodents, BPA and phthalates have been linked to a number  of health issues, including impaired development of reproductive organs,  decreased fertility and cancers. The United States and the European  Union have banned some phthalates in children’s toys, and in July the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy  cups.

The researchers, led by Kimberly Wooten, a graduate student in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech, studied factors that affected how much BPA and phthalates leached from plastic bumpers into dishes filled with artificial dog saliva.

They tested orange and white bumpers from two unidentified makers. The bumpers subjected to simulated chewing leached more BPA and phthalates than brand new bumpers and those left outside to weather for a month.

Researchers said they suspect that the levels of chemicals observed from the bumpers would be considered very high when compared with children’s toys.  “Think of the molecules that comprise plastics as bricks in a wall. With pet toys, wear and tear from chewing would place stress on the chemical bonds – the mortar – allowing individual molecules to be released,” said Laura Vandenberg, a reproductive scientist from Tufts University in Massachusetts.

Since simulated saliva was used, it is difficult to say how much actual leaching would occur in a dog’s mouth, the researchers said. “We don’t have enough information at this time to begin to estimate actual exposure,” Smith said.

Smith said they suspect that the levels of chemicals observed from the bumpers would be considered very high when compared with children’s toys.

The researchers also looked at phthalates and BPA from pet toys sold through major retailers. They found higher concentrations leaching from bumpers than from other toys but preliminary results suggest some store-bought toys might have leached other hormonally-active chemicals.

A previous study by the Environmental Working Group found that dogs’ blood and urine contained the breakdown products of several phthalates at levels ranging from 1.1 to 4.5 times higher than the average found in people.

“Dogs are closer to the ground than humans, so house dust is another potential source of exposure to environmental chemicals,” Dr. Khan said.

But little is known about any potential health risks for dogs exposed to hormone-mimicking chemicals.

Since little toxicity data exist for dogs, it is difficult to evaluate risks, Smith said. Nonetheless, “consumer education about potential risk seems to be warranted based on our data,” he said

Negotiating a truce in litter box wars

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

When two cats are in the house, owners need at least three litter boxes to keep the peace between pets, writes veterinarian Marty Becker. Boxes should be in locations that offer easy access yet privacy, adds Dr. Becker. Although most cats prefer soft, unscented, clumping litter, preferences may differ, so Dr. Becker recommends trying several types to find the best fit. The Sacramento Bee (Calif.)


Q. We already had an adult cat. We adopted a kitten, and now that she’s half-grown, we have litter box issues, specifically wars over the box. What should we do to make them “share the bathroom”?

A.  One box is not enough. You should have one box for each cat, plus one. If you have one cat, you need two litter boxes. Two cats, three litter boxes. Put them in different locations. For instance, keep one upstairs and one downstairs. That way, one is always convenient. And with more than one cat, it prevents fights over who gets to use which box when it’s needed.

Some cats like to ambush others when they use the litter box, so place litter boxes in locations with easy escape routes. Privacy is important, too.  Another good reason to have multiple litter boxes: Each cat may prefer a different type of litter.

What about what goes inside the box? There are all kinds of different cat litter, and they all have pros and cons. Most cats prefer clumping litter because of its soft, sandy feel. It’s easy on the paws and easy to scoop. Other cats might like a fine-grained clay litter. Look for one that comes in a dust-free formula. Some cat litter is easier on the Earth, made from recycled paper or natural substances like corncobs or wheat. But if your cat doesn’t like it, you’ll be throwing a lot of it out, which is not that environmentally friendly. Let the cats pick their preferences by offering a “litter box buffet.”

Avoid scented litter. It might smell good to you, but that perfumed odor can be sensory overload for a cat.

– Dr. Marty Becker

Pet anxiety disorders manageable with medication and training

Monday, October 1st, 2012
Dogs, cats and even birds can suffer from anxiety disorders, explain veterinarians Mike Heinen and Alycen Adams. Medications prescribed by a veterinarian and designed for pets can help them cope with stressful conditions, such as thunderstorms or separation anxiety, especially when combined with behavioral modification, said Dr. Heinen. The Herald Weekly (Huntersville, N.C.)

by Tori Hamby

With so many behavioral treatments for pets – from dog whisperers to medication and expensive training programs – exasperated owners might have difficulty sifting through their options.

Like humans, pets can suffer from a variety of mental disorders that cause behavioral problems, veterinarians say. These disorders – including obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease – can show themselves in a pet’s predilection to tear up the house when left alone, tendency to urinate when panicked, aggression or other destructive behaviors.

“Pretty much anything you see in human behavior, we have on the animal side as well,” said Mike Heinen, owner of Lake Norman Animal Hospital in Mooresville.

Alycen Adams, a veterinarian at Carolinas Veterinary Care Clinic in Huntersville, said symptoms of OCD in pets include walking in circles to the point where paws become bloody and, in cats, excessive grooming. OCD is also common in birds, which pick at their feathers as a result.

Dogs that have traditionally been bred to perform jobs – such as Golden Shepherds and Border Collies – often have an overabundance of energy, which can manifest itself as anxiety, Adams said. When left home alone that anxiety can trigger destructive behavior.

“It’s like a high energy person with nothing to do,” Adams said. “They are going to cause mischief.”

Separation anxiety is also especially pronounced in dogs, Adams said, who have poor concepts of time. The sound of an owner’s key jingling at the door, for instance, can trick a dog into thinking their owners will be gone forever.

Medication options

The most effective behavior modification regimens, he said, combine medication and behavioral therapy. Pets can use medication to improve their coping skills, increasing the chances that non-medical treatment – such as reinforcing positive behavior through treats or attention – will stick.

“We can use medicine to break the pattern and help the animal realize ‘hey, I can cope with this; it isn’t so bad,’” Heinen said. “Then we get them over that small phobia.”

“A cat who has had a urinary tract infection can develop a fear of its litter box because of the pain it associates with it,” Adams said. “(Medicine) can ease that aversion.”

There are also drug treatments available for short-term anxiety-induced behaviors caused by thunderstorms or loud noises. Alprazolam and diazepam, known to humans as Xanax and Valium, can be administered temporarily.

Owners can give their pets a dose of these drugs about 24 hours before a thunderstorm is predicted to hit or Fourth of July fireworks go off in the pet’s surrounding neighborhood.

“These pet aren’t lying in the corner drooling like a vegetable when they are on these medications,” Adams said.

Other alternatives

Just as a number of natural treatments are available to humans for stress, anxiety or depression, pets may also benefit from these remedies. The scent of lavender, a flower known for its calming affects on humans, can sooth an anxious pet, Heinen said.

Facial pheromones are available for cats in sprays or plug-in diffuser devices. These chemicals are synthetic versions of naturally occurring familiarization pheromones used to mark objects in its surroundings as familiar.

“They make animals feel like they have their own little baby blankets,” Heinen said.

To prepare dogs for thunderstorms, owners can play sounds of thunder, wind and rain at low volumes to acclimate pets to startling noises, Adams said. Owners can gradually turn the volume up until the dog no longer becomes anxious during storms.

Owners can also buy a Thundershirt online at The gentle pressure of the snug fitting doggie jacket provides dogs with a sense of security.

“We have some owners who swear by it, and others who say it doesn’t really make a difference,” Adams said. “A dogs reaction to things like the Thundershirt and pheromones really depends on the sensitivity of the dog and the severity of the problem.”

A warning

While pet variations of some behavioral medicines, such as Prozac, Xanax or Valium are identical to the medications a human night take, Heinen said owners should never give their pets medicine prescribed to humans. Dosage amounts and idiosyncratic properties of different drugs could have adverse affects on pets.

“A pinch of Tylenol will kill a cat,” Heinen said. “You need the right drug and the right diagnosis.”

Helping dogs with storm anxiety

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Better behavior with Steve Dale
Thunder booms, and some dogs panic. Here’s how to help your pets cope.

Some dogs are better at forecasting the weather than the National Weather Service. They know a storm is approaching before we do. These dogs pace, salivate, tremble, whine, and become Velcro dogs (stick to you like glue) even when the storm is an hour away or more. And it might get worse when the storm actually arrives. Some dogs may forget their house training and even self-mutilate. Other dogs don’t do any of these things. They just want to hide, perhaps under a bed, in a corner, in a closet, or in the bathtub.

Some clients feel that a storm-frightened dog will learn over time that the storm really won’t hurt her and she’ll get better on her own. That’s not usually how it works, unfortunately. When low-level anxiety is left alone, dogs actually seem to worsen—and that reasonably low level of anxiety is exactly when intervention is most likely to help before the anxiety becomes more severe. Early treatment is better. Of course, what can be done to help these suffering pets depends on the severity of the behaviors.

For milder anxiety Dogs’ behavior may take a turn for the worse even as a storm approaches. They can learn to associate the oncoming storm with changes in barometric pressure, maybe sensing an approaching storm front in other ways we don’t understand. You know sometimes how you can “smell” an oncoming storm? Of course, anything we can smell—a dog can. When the storms are near, dogs are not only affected by the sound of thunder, but also the sight of lightning, perhaps even the electricity in the air, and of course the sound of the rain itself.

For dogs with mild anxiety—who respond by hiding and don’t seem panicked, just anxious—veterinary team members may suggest proactively helping the dog to get over its fear. Sometimes the simplest solution can help, which is positive reinforcement during the thunderstorm. Here’s how it works: Take the dog into a basement, close the window shades (so hopefully the dog can’t see the lightning), pump up the music (to drown out storm sounds) and distract the pup with a jolly game. Kids are great at this, and moms and dads may appreciate the kids being entertained too. The dog can play whatever (safe) games the dog and children enjoy. This method also serves as desensitization and counter-conditioning for dogs who play along. When the next few storms come along, the dog starts to associate fearful weather with fun.

One problem with this approach is that many dogs are too fearful to even think about play. And what if the client isn’t always home as storms approach? Say, the jollying approach worked and after two more storms the dog is more easily distracted each time and seems a tad less anxious. But if no one’s home during the next thunderstorm, the client and the pet may be back to square one.

Your thunderstorm anxiety toolbox For many dogs, a combination of the following storm anxiety tools may be useful. These are not miracle cures, but they lessen the level of anxiety in dogs whose level of anxiety is so high that any one won’t work. Note that what works for one dog may or may not help another.

  • Adaptil.This is an analog of a calming pheromone found in lactating dogs and the intent is to calm anxious dogs. It’s available in diffuser or collar.
  • Anxiety Wrap.A vest-like “suit” that fits around the dog and uses acupressure to calm. The Anxiety Wrap can also be used for separation anxiety, anxiety in the car, and other anxiety-related issues.
  • Anxitane.L-Theanine in a chewable tab can help counter anxiety in dogs and cats. The idea is to offer the chewable before the dog becomes anxious.
  • Storm Defender.A red cape for dogs to wear to reduce anxiety. The cape has a special metallic lining that discharges a dog’s fur and protects from the static charge buildup that can bother dogs.
  • Thundershirt. Uses gentle, constant pressure to calm a dog. Could be used for anxiety, general fearfulness, barking, and more.

For dogs with more intense anxiety, veterinarians can consider anti-anxiety medication. Sleepiness can be a side effect, but what’s better—being a little drowsy or absolutely terrified? And with the right dose, a dog should not appear doped up. For more on appropriate anxiety pharmacological choices, resources include:

In this exclusive monthly column, Steve Dale, CABC, radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and contributing editor at USA Weekend, will give veterinary team members tips on helping patients with behavior issues and talking to clients about these sometimes tough topics. Steve Dale, CABC, writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column for Tribune Media services and is a contributing editor at USA Weekend. He is also host of two nationally syndicated radio shows, “Steve Dale’s Pet World” and “The Pet Minute,” and is heard on WGN Radio. Catch him live at CVC San Diego Dec. 5-9.

Penn opens facility to train, study detection dogs

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
The University of Pennsylvania has opened the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a facility where dogs will be trained to find humans in disaster situations, allowing researchers to help determine how the dogs are successful. “The detection area is so important because these dogs are better than any machine that we have — and they can save lives,” said veterinarian Cynthia Otto, an emergency, critical care and disaster medicine expert who founded the center. Dr. Otto worked with detection dogs at ground zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has consulted with the military on search-and-rescue dogs. National Public Radio (text and audio) (9/11)


A detection dog-training center opens Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania so scientists can train dogs for search-and-rescue missions — and study what helps them succeed.

Cynthia Otto, who served on a team that used working dogs to search for survivors in the rubble at ground zero, created the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. She’s a veterinarian who specializes in emergency, critical care and disaster medicine, and she has consulted with the military about the health of search-and-rescue dogs, including Cairo, the dog who worked on the Osama bin Laden mission. She tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that detection dogs are invaluable.

“There are so many jobs now that dogs are being used for,” Otto says. “Originally it was kind of looked at as that patrol dog or the bomb-detection dog, but now they’re being used to find the IEDs [improved explosive devices]. Some of them are actually being used for therapy in the field, which is really incredible. But they’re starting to look at all of the different potential components that these dogs can contribute to…and the detection area is so important because these dogs are better than any machine that we have — and they can save lives.”

Annemarie DeAngelo, the center’s training director, founded the New Jersey State Police Canine Unit and has worked with canines for more than 13 years. With her dog partners, she has searched for missing children, criminals and drugs — one drug seizure involved 1,200 kilos of cocaine.

With her canine companions, DeAngelo says she feels “very confident that I know my partner is doing his job, and that no harm is going to come to me, and we’re going to find what we’re looking for.”

Interview Highlights

Cynthia Otto, a veterinarian who tended to the health needs of working dogs at ground zero, created the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.

Penn CurrentCynthia Otto, a veterinarian who tended to the health needs of working dogs at ground zero, created the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.

A scientific approach to maintaining hydration for working dogs

Cynthia Otto: “One of the big concerns that we have not only with the military dogs but also the search-and-rescue dogs from Sept. 11 and Katrina is maintaining their hydration, and so that’s a project we’re very actively working on at this time because these dogs are so focused on what they’re doing. They’re really intent, and so they’re just gonna keep on doing it and they forget that they need to have a drink. And what happens is then they’re more likely to get overheated, they’re more likely to really get exhausted if they don’t take a break. …

“And so we’re looking at different approaches to keeping them hydrated so that they can stay safe, they can work well, and that’s a question that people have lots of ideas about, and no one’s taken that scientific approach. And that’s what we’re doing.”

On how dogs are trained to find the living

Otto: “With finding live people, it’s very important that they’re trained to very quickly identify a concealed person, and that allows them to work in an area where there are a lot of other people that are visible but aren’t concealed. And those dogs typically have what we call a very active alert — they bark. It may be used in the human remains also to have an active alert, but most of them are a more passive alert, which means that they would either sit or paw to alert that there is something there. The urgency with the live find is really what’s so important, because we have such limited time to be successful.”

Annemarie DeAngelo, the center's training director, founded the New Jersey State Police Canine Unit and has worked with canines for more than 13 years.

Sarah GriffithAnnemarie DeAngelo, the center’s training director, founded the New Jersey State Police Canine Unit and has worked with canines for more than 13 years.

On how training dogs to apprehend criminals is different from search and rescue

Annemarie DeAngelo: “When you’re sniffing, the dogs are using their olfactories to locate a substance, whether it’s explosives or narcotics. When you’re making a criminal apprehension, that is when the dog is assisting the officer and he bites and holds the person until the officer gets there, or if someone is assaulting the officer, dogs are automatically trained to protect that officer. …

“[The training] starts out as game of tug of war and it evolves. It’s a long process, but it evolves to a sleeve, and you just keep training every day until the dog will go out and make a clean apprehension.”

On whether dogs have a sense of service

Otto: “I would love to think that, but I think they think it’s a game. …

“They don’t care who they find. If they find somebody, they get their Frisbee; it’s a game and that’s what life is all about. I believe dogs have such an amazing connection with us, and I think that sometimes what it’s all about for them is what they’re feeling from their handler — that pride that we can give them — that feeling, just that connection, because that is important to them. But it’s about the game. I don’t think that they really do know that they’re being so amazing and so patriotic and so helpful. They’re doing what they do naturally.”

Does your pet favor the right or left paw? Tests can tell

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Veterinarian Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin, Calif., developed a method of testing pets to determine whether they are right- or left-paw dominant. It is a series of dexterity tests that can determine which paw is dominant. A previous study suggested that 50% of cats are right-paw dominant, 40% left-pawed, and 10% ambidextrous, while another study showed dogs were equally right- and left-pawed. The Daily Mail (London) (8/28)


Is your pet right or left-handed? The DIY test that uses cheese, sofas and  the backdoor to find out… but you have to do it 100 times

Ever wondered which paw your pet would clutch  a pen with, should it develop opposable thumbs?

Quite possibly not. But if you have, this  could be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

Dr. Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary  Neurology Center in Tustin, Calififornia, claims to  have developed a test to figure out whether a dog or cat is right or  left-handed.

Paw preference won’t make a dog or cat walk,  talk or wink like a human. You won’t even get a high-five or a fist pump out of  it. But vets and owners reckons the  curiosity factor will have pet owners clamoring to find out if theirs is a  leftie or a rightie.

Results are in: Veterinarian Christina Thompson performs  a right-handed-left-handed test with a Chihuahua dog

Researchers are studying things like right  brain-left brain connections, genetics and sexual orientation that may one day  change the way dogs and cats are bred, raised, trained and used, said  Schwartz.

Some horses have to be ambidextrous, said Dr.  Sharon Crowell-Davis, a behavior and anatomy professor in the College of  Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia.

In U.S. racing, horses only have to lean left  because all races are run  counterclockwise on tracks, but in some competitions  and in some other  countries, horses have to race and canter both ways.

‘They have to be able to circle right and  left. If not, they can trip,’  Crowell-Davis said. ‘You have to work to get them  to take the lead they  prefer less.’

 Leftie: A cat lifts his left leg during a  right-handed-left-handed test

She has never seen an advertisement promoting  right or left-pawed dogs or  cats. ‘The only time you see it used in advertising  is with horses. If a horse if being offered for sale, because of issues on the  lead, it may  say ‘Works well on both leads’ to emphasize the horse has had  training.’

For dogs and  cats their well-being doesn’t  depend on preference.

A 1991 study at Ataturk University in Turkey  showed 50 per cent of cats were right-pawed, 40 per cent were left-pawed and 10  per cent were ambidextrous. That study might be out-of-date, Schwartz said, but  it does provide percentages.

A 2006 study from the University of  Manchester in England showed dogs were split half-and-half.

About 90 per cent of humans are right-handed  and 10 per cent are left-handed.

Here kitty kitty: Dangle a toy in front of a cat and see  which paw it uses to bat it

Laterality — the textbook term meaning one  side of the brain is dominant over the other — may someday help breeders predict  which puppies will make the best military, service and therapy dogs, Schwartz  said, and that could be lifesaving.

But for now, if you care enought, Schwartz  has a series of tests that she says will determine the paw preference of your  pet, when performed 100 times.

She suggests filling  a toy with something delicious and  putting it in the center of the dog’s visual  field. Which paw does it use to touch the toy first? Which paw does the dog use  to hold the toy?

Coy: When a cat really wants something, tests show it  uses its dominant paw, but when it’s just fooling around, it may use either or  both

Or you could put  something sticky on a dog or cat’s nose and take note of which paw it uses to  remove it? Place a treat or a piece of  cheese under a sofa, just beyond a dog or cat’s reach, she says. Which paw does  it use to try and get it out?

Other indicators include which paw a dog  offers to shake when asked or knock the backdoor with when it wants to be let  in. Similarly for cats you can track which paw it uses to bat a dangled toy or  to reach a treat lurking under a bowl.

 Who’s a good boy? Ask a dog to shake hands and see which  paw it raises

Schwartz said there are a few things that  might alter test results, including that if a dog has arthritis or an injury in a shoulder or  leg, it could use the other to compensate.

When a cat really wants something, she said,  tests show it uses its dominant paw, but when it’s just fooling around it may  use either or both.

And it is also possible that handedness in  dogs, and maybe cats, will change over time as the animal’s motivation  changes.

Robin A.F. Olson, founder and president of  rescue organisation Kitten Associates Inc, said her cats are always reaching for  toys or treats with one paw or another.

‘I try not to be judgmental of my cats’  abilities or lack thereof. We will never worry about the anti-paw.’

It appears that Nora, an internationally  acclaimed 8-year-old piano-playing tabby from Philadelphia, owned by piano  teacher Betsy Alexander and her artist-photographer husband, Burnell Yow, is  right-pawed.

Yow studied her videos and ‘determined that  she appears to lead with her right paw, then follow with her left,’ Alexander  said.

But she has her ambidextrous, headstrong  moments.

‘She uses both paws to reach for specific  notes, even black notes … and she uses her head to roll a series of multiple  notes.’

Burning question or a waste of  time? How to find out if your pet is a leftie or rightie

If you teach a dog to shake, which paw does  it offer you first and most often?

Fill a toy with something delicious and put  it in the center of the dog’s visual field. Which paw does it use to touch the  toy first? Which paw does the dog use to hold the toy?

Put something sticky on a dog or cat’s nose.  Which paw does the animal use to remove it?

Place a treat or a piece of cheese under a  sofa, just beyond a dog or cat’s reach. Which paw does it use to try and get it  out?

Dangle a toy over a cat’s head. Which paw  does it lift to bat it?

Put a treat under a bowl. Which paw does the  cat or dog use to move it?

When a dog wants in the backdoor, which paw  does it ‘knock’ with?

Read more:

Pain leads to aggression in some dogs, study says

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Sudden changes in a dog’s temperament, for example episodes of aggression, could be related to some internal pain they are feeling, which sets them on edge if they are touched, new research indicates.

“If the pet is handled when in pain, it will quickly act aggressively to avoid more discomfort without the owner being able to prevent it,” study researcher Tomàs Camps, of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, in Spain, said in a statement. “Dogs that had never been aggressive before the onset of pain began to behave in this way in situations where an attempt is made to control them.”

Irritability from pain can make otherwise affectionate dogs violent and already aggressive dogs even more aggressive. As such, the researchers say, their findings support the importance of the diagnosis and treatment of pain in dogs.