Labrador Acting Strange

Animal: Dog
Breed: Labrador

Pet Symptoms: I have a 13 year old Labrador. For past four nights has be acting strange. He has been fine all day. But in the evening has been unable to settle. He has been panting and shaking, this been lasting several hours. Last night and tonight he has wanted to go and lay on in the garden even tho it’s raining. Something he has never done at night. He has still had a good diet, and bowels working well.

Our Advice: At that age, unusual behaviours could be down to many different reasons.  It may be old age and similar to senility in people with reduced brain function, but liver problems, other conditions affecting the brain or problems like arthritis could all cause similar symptoms.  Blindness or reduced vision could be a factor too.

I would recommend you see your vet and have them carry out a full clinical exam to check there are no obvious health issues or signs of arthritis particularly (very common in this breed at this age).  If he is fine then usually a basic blood test will rule out most signs of infection or illness that could be a cause. More advanced diagnostics such as MRI or CT may be available to have a look at the brain/spinal cord – but these are often not carried out as they can be expensive and maybe not of great benefit at this age (although they have their place).

Medications that help are generally aimed at treating the underlying cause, or helping with brain function if that is deemed to be the issue.  Products like aktivait which is an over the counter supplement can be helpful, as can medications like propentofylline which is a prescription medication.  They both often take at least 2-4 weeks to work though so it can be a slow process.  Hills make a diet that is meant to help with brain function called b/d diet – I haven’t used this much, but some people find it helps.  Obviously if any other illness is detected then treatments aimed at helping with that would be selected.