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Medical Reasons for Canine Behaviors

Medical Condition

CategoryBehavioral Sign
Internal parasites, bacterial/viral infection

Illness or diseaseAltered personality, lethargy, depression, withdrawal, anorexia, reduction in grooming, altered social relationships, altered response to stimuli
Central (affecting forebrain, limbic/temporal, and hypothalamic), rapid-eye movement sleep disorders

NeurologicAltered awareness and response to stimuli, loss of learned behaviors, housesoiling, disorientation, confusion, altered activity levels, temporal disorientation, vocalization, change in temperament (fear, anxiety, aggression), altered appetite, altered sleep cycles, interrupted sleep (aggression/waking/activity)
Peripheral (neuropathy)NeurologicSelf-mutilation, irritability, aggression, circling, hyperesthesia
Focal seizures/temporal lobe seizuresNeurologicRepetitive behaviors, self-trauma, chomping, staring, altered temperament (eg, intermittent states of fear or aggression), tremors, shaking, interrupted sleep
Sensory dysfunctionNeurologicAltered response to stimuli, confusion, disorientation, altered sleep cycles, irritability, aggression, vocalization, housesoiling
HypothyroidismMetabolic / EndocrineLethargy, decreased response to stimuli, irritability, aggression.
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease)Metabolic / EndocrinePanting, night waking, housesoiling, irritability, polydipsia, polyphagia, anxiety
Diabetes/hyperglycemiaMetabolic / EndocrineHousesoiling, night waking
Functional ovarian and testicular tumorsPhysicalAndrogen-induced behaviors: males—aggression, roaming, marking, sexual attraction, mounting; females—nesting or possessive aggression of objects
Hepatic or renal encephalopathyPhysicalSigns associated with affected organ, anxiety, irritability, aggression, altered sleep, housesoiling, mental dullness, decreased activity, restlessness, increased sleep, confusion
Anemia or electrolyte imbalancesPhysicalPica
PainPainAltered response to stimuli, decreased activity, restlessness/inability to settle, vocalization, housesoiling, aggression, irritability, self-trauma, waking at night
GastrointestinalPhysicalLicking, polyphagia, pica, coprophagia, housesoiling (fecal), wind sucking, tongue rolling, unsettled sleep, restlessness
UrogenitalPhysicalHousesoiling (urine), polydipsia, waking at night
DermatologicPhysicalAcral lick dermatitis, nail biting, hyperesthesia, other self-trauma

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