Should we get rid of my grandmother's aggressive dog?

12 answers | Last updated: Oct 04, 2016
Beckert7 asked...

My grandmother has had a lap dog for about 7 years and she has been very important to my granmother. My Cousin gave her the dog. The dog has always been slightly aggressive. Now the dog is at least 10 and is starting to go blind and get very aggressive. My grandmother doesn't get good rest and neither do my husband and I because the dog with wake us up literally screaming. She is barking all the time and has been biting. She pees in my grandmothers closet regualarly and if we shut the door she does it on the couch. She bit my granmothers nose(even though grandma swears she didn't) My grandmother smothers her so the dog bites at her hands and face. She attacks our other dog now. I know the dog is scared and can't help acting out but I don't know at what point it isn't safe to have the dog around. She is also aggressive at some of the babies that come to out house. My family agrees she isn't safe but don't want to take that from grandma. Currently Grandma keeps saying she is so suprised that Holly is still alive because she is so old. I don't know if this is the perfect time to get rid of the dog and just get a new one to replace it. She is in the last stages of Alheimer's but thrives with a dog to take care of.


Expert Answers

For 20 years, physical therapist Connie Lambert has worked with individuals and families with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. As founder and CEO of Our Generations, LLC, she provides specialized dementia and behavioral management training for corporations, facilities, and groups.

Yours is a difficult situation, especially since your grandmother thrives on "caring" for the dog. But, from what you describe the situation is unhealthy for your grandmother, the rest of the family and for the dog. She lacks the judgment to care for a dog with special needs and also to protect herself. I would suggest you try the following steps:

  1. Call your vet, the humane society or a pet rescue society and discuss your situation. Be clear that the dog can no longer live in your home. The experts can help determine if the dog's condition is painful and requires euthanasia or if she just requires a different environment.

  2. Discuss your decision with your grandmother and let her know the dog is in pain or frightened when she is crying and needs a "special" environment.

  3. Try to replace her "caregiving" with another activity. If there is another animal in the house perhaps she can assist in the care of it. But before you replace the aging dog with another dog remember that your grandmother will need supervision while caring for any animal. Her tendency to "smother" the dog, as you described, can cause even the tamest personality to act out a bit.

I wish you the best of luck in handing this very sensitive situation.


Community Answers

Hshields answered...

My sympathy to your family . . . maybe it is time to have the elderly, aggressive dog euthanized . . . and replace it with a sweet older cat from the shelter for your grandmother's companion. Keep the cat indoors, and all it will need is a clean cat box (we use Fresh Step for our 5 indoor cats). . . and of course food, water and lots of affection. Good luck.


A redneck angel answered...

Would you "get rid" of a person because s/he is getting aggressive?


Doberman answered...

It is a terrible suggestion to euthanize an animal that has been a loving companion for many years. Would you euthanize the "grandmother" because she is becoming aggressive due to her Alzheimers? The dog is fearful because it's eyesight is deteriorating. Speak to your vet immediately and see if it is only catarac's which can be removed. The vet may also prescribe a pill for anxiety which will help with the aggressivness.


Elena palumbo answered...

A good holistic vet, specialized in homeopathy, could help the dog to improve its feelings and behaviour.There are also some dog's feromones preparations that diminish the dog's stress and aggressivity. One could also try and see if there is an organic explanation for the aggressivness, (A brain tumor, for example). I find quite shocking the idea of killing the dog and getting a new one....


Gutapa answered...

It's very apparent that the dog is suffering from dimentia and the most humane thing to do, is to have her put down. I'm surprised that no one has realized it, with all the signs the poor dog has been giving with her alarming behavior.


Doberman answered...

Ten years is not old for most smaller breeds. I doubt the dog has dementia but should be evaluated for illness by a qualified veterinarian.


A fellow caregiver answered...

Dog needs a muzzle for safety and needs strict disapline to calm the aggressivness. Have the dog evaluated by a pro. You may need to have the down put down,


Beckert7 answered...

Ok first thanks for expert response, very helpful and realistic. I'm very surprised by the negative remarks on this thread as this is to be a place of help and kindness. There are a lot of assumptions on here and not reading the facts. I found out the dog is 16 and all I stated was she is at least 10 years old. She is going blind and the quality of life after surgerys for multiple problems not just blindness would be lowered. She was rescued from a shelter and we have cared for her very well. All my animals are rescues. She has homeopathic anxiety medicine and was worse before she had it but after all the ones I tried it isn't helping. Now it is unbearable. So we have decided that putting the animal down would be the most humane thing to do. Thank you for the helpful realistic comments. As for the not so helpful comments consider the comments you are making to people doing selfless acts and if I didn't want to make the best decision why would I be asking for advice. This is obviously a tender situation for all involved.(meaning my grandmother, the dog and family).


Jwhite answered...

Sometimes a caring pet owner has to decide to ease the living or dying of a beloved animal. It sounds as if you have done all that can be done for the dog and obviously it can't be allowed to continue to bite and live such a miserable existence. It's always sad to euthanize but sometimes the best for the animal. Also I think the person who asked if they would euthanize the Grandmother was being really stupid; animals deserve lives of love and care but they aren't people.


Piver answered...

Dear Beckert7, Yes, you are making the right decision to have the dog euthanized for its own comfort if not to ease a difficult and dangerous situation in the family. We had to give up our beloved rescued dog when he started biting my Alz husband. It is hard but now we are looking for the replacement dog and looking forward to a new adventure. God Bless. Piver


Doberman answered...

Dear Beckert7, I'm glad you clarified the problem you are having with the dog and perhaps the best way out is to euthanize the dog. I only wanted you to get the advice of a qualified vet before doing anything so drastic, however, 16 is old for a dog and perhaps it's time is up. Sorry you felt people weren't trying to be helpful, I for one most certainly was. I wish you and grandma the very best. Please be there with the dog when the vet gives it the shot. He deserves that much. Good luck.