Maybe you were at a neighbor’s house and their dog, whom you’ve known since he was a puppy, suddenly bit you – seemingly for no reason. Perhaps you were dropping something off at a co-worker’s home when their elderly dog, who seemed perfectly docile, reacted to your attempt to pet her by taking a chunk out of your hand.
As dogs get into their senior years, they can start to become more aggressive – particularly with people outside their family (although sometimes with family members as well). It’s not just that they’re getting cranky in their old age. There are other reasons.
They don’t feel well or are in discomfort
Older dogs suffer from many of the conditions that afflict people as they age. Many have arthritis, dental problems, stomach and digestive issues and other problems that can cause them to prefer to be alone. Sometimes, it can be painful if someone touches them in the wrong spot. While their owners may know the signs that they don’t want to be bothered, other well-meaning people may not.
Their hearing and/or sight isn’t good
People might think that a dog is aware that they’re approaching and reaching out to them, but they may not be. They can bite someone who startles them.
They have dementia
Some dogs develop canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) as they get older, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. They may not recognize even their own family at times and not be sure where they are. This confusion can cause them to bite. Even older dogs who don’t develop CCD can still experience some cognitive decline that can cause the same reaction.
Dogs – just like people – can live long lives if they’re generally healthy and well cared for. However, owners of senior dogs need to be conscientious about warning people who are about to approach them to be extremely cautious because the dog may not realize they’re there or be in any mood to be petted.
In most cases, homeowners’ or renters’ insurance will cover policyholders if their pet harms someone. However, not everyone has insurance, and in some cases, they may not have coverage for their dog. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a senior dog, make sure you get the compensation you need for medical costs and other expenses and damages.