Dogs/Drastic, sudden behavior change
My dog, Gordy, is a 22 lb., 13 +/- year old, neutered schnauzer / shih tzu terrier mix. About two months ago he began to jump up suddenly, as if stung by a bee, look around, and then get as close to me as he could, getting in my lap, or even jumping in our bed, something he had never done in the past. When this behavior began it was infrequent, but now seems to happen a few times a day.
I initially associated his behavior change with a one week transition to a new dry limited ingredient venison mix; the limited ingredient lamb and rice mix he had eaten most of his life was no longer carried by any pet food stores in my area. I confirmed with my vet that the behavior could be related to intestinal troubles and to give it some more time. After two weeks with a little noticeable improvement in his behavior, we took him with us to a vacation home. Gordy, a seasoned traveler, had been there before. Unfortunately, I had to change his food again, which I transitioned to over another week. The jumping and clinging increased, and he started had having sensitivity issues, such as licking his paws constantly. I ordered some of his lamb and rice mix online just to get him back to his baseline diet.
He's been back on his lamb and rice mix for over a week and he is still leaping in bed, clinging to either my husband or I in ways he never did. This is not a lap dog, but he leaps onto my husband's or my lap and looks around like something is going to get him (at least that what it seems like to me).
I am very worried. There has been stress in his life recently, but the behavior began when everything but the food was constant. We've been at the vacation home for a month now. Consistency has return.
Here is my question: Can aging be playing a part in this? Have you known other older dogs which acted this way? What should I be looking for to understand any changes that may be happening with him concerning aging?
Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.
It's entirely possible it's age related, in as much as there is an underlying condition that's causing the bizarre leaping behavior, that could have it's roots in his age. (Though I don't think a 13 year old dog of Gordy's size is terribly old). This doesn't sound like "cognitive dysfunction syndrome", which is also called "Doggy Alzheimer's". Needy or clingy behavior can be a sign that a dog isn't feeling well.
First rule out the obvious. Have you checked for biting insects including ticks? Have you seen any welts or hives on Gordy's skin that could indicate he's being bitten by something? It's also possible that Gordy's pain isn't coming from his stomach/ intestines, but from back or neck pain or from a muscle spasm. He's not vomiting or having diarrhea or other symptoms that would indicate a stomach ailment, right?
It's a good idea to limit his exercise and not to let him jump up or down from furniture, and avoid the stairs until a doctor can rule out neck or back pain as the culprit. Keep his walks short, use a harness instead of a leash to keep stress off his neck, especially if Gordy tends to pull on the leash. You can try using a heating pad on him. Follow the directions pad's packaging and heat for the appropriate time. Calmly to the Gordy, encourage him to lie down, and place the bag over his neck or back for a period of five to ten minutes at a time.
Try elevating Gordy's food and water bowls to a height that allows him to eat and drink without having to bend and stoop.
There's no way to guess at what's going on with Gordy. What he needs is a thorough physical exam to get to the root of his problem. Until you can get him to a doctor, you might try using Bach's Rescue Remedy, an herbal formula to help calm a dog's agitation that may be associated with pain or stress. Usually, there is an immediate calming effect. It may be taken as often as needed, you cannot overdose on Rescue Remedy.
I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck!