Is your normally happy, friendly dog exhibiting “bad dog behaviors” – like growling and digging? The answer may not be a trip to obedience school. It may be time to visit a vet instead, because some behaviors can be signs of underlying medical issues.

  • In-home accidents. Sarah Wilson, author of My Smart Puppy, says that a lot of times when dogs start relieving themselves in the house, it’s the result of a urinary tract infection, or tick-borne illness.
  • Biting and snarling. If this happens and your dog is normally sweet natured, there’s almost certainly a medical problem. Studies show that one-third of all aggressive dogs act out because of pain, like from an abscessed tooth. If their teeth are fine, ask about their thyroid levels. A Tufts University study found that nearly 60% of aggressive dogs suffer from low thyroid function.
  • Digging. Experts say that excessive digging and eating dirt can be symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Whining, and repetitive licking and chewing. Experts say that it can be caused by staph infections - especially in hard-to-reach places like a dog’s footpads or between their toes.

If your dog exhibits any sudden changes in behavior, the vet should be your first stop.