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Springer Rage Syndrome in Dogs: 9 Signs of an Impending Attack

Springer Rage Syndrome in Dogs: 9 Signs of an Impending Attack
Dr. Paula SimonsPin

Reviewed by: Paula Simons, DVM

Rage syndrome, also known as Springer Rage, is a rare condition that causes dogs to suddenly become aggressive. The suddenness and severity of the aggression seems to come out of nowhere, leaving dog owners baffled.

Any dog can succumb to bouts of aggression. In fact, this post will cover some of the most common reasons behind it. If you’re concerned that you’re dog might actually have Rage syndrome, there are a few things you need to know.

First, it takes a veterinarian diagnosis to determine whether your dog has the disorder. Second, it tends to develop in younger dogs at around 7 months of age. And third, it’s the kind of aggression that happens without any obvious cause.

Pet owners report that it reminds them of a seizure. This is because the dog seems to be stunned after the attack. It’s as if the dog doesn’t understand what just happened and may appear dazed.

This post will cover all the major issues related to aggression in dogs. We’ll give you a breakdown of all the common reasons for it along with some tips on what you can do.

diagnosing rage syndrome in dogs is difficultPin

Does My Dog Have Rage Syndrome?

Thankfully, Rage Syndrome is relatively rare. The condition, also known as Springer Rage, is a dangerous form of aggression.

English Springer Spaniels with this condition have been known to aggressively attack other people , their owners, and other animals.

While it appears to target Springer Spaniels, it can also appear in other breeds, including (but not limited to):

  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Dobermans
  • Chow Chow
  • Rottweiler

Rage syndrome typically develops once the dog has passed the puppy stage and is venturing into adulthood. This happens before they are a year old.

If your dog is older and has suddenly become aggressive, it’s likely a behavioral type of problem.

Causes of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

The condition is thought to be a genetic form of epilepsy. Many dogs have seizures in their lifetime. A typical seizure is nothing like Rage syndrome.

When a dog comes out of an intense episode of rage syndrome, it’s as if he/she doesn’t know what happened.

If you have a young English Springer Spaniel (or another breed) who has exhibited anything like this, make an appointment with a veterinarian ASAP. While you wait for the appointment, keep your dog away from children, strangers, and other animals or pets as much as possible.

Diagnosing Rage Syndrome in Dogs

It’s important to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian if you suspect there are aggression issues. The veterinarian will want to rule out any medical conditions. He/she will likely perform a physical examination along with blood tests, urinalysis, CT scans, MRI, etc.

Diagnosing rage syndrome in dogs is difficult. Veterinarians have to rely on the owner’s perception of what’s happening combined with the possibility of underlying medical conditions.

Common Types of Aggression in Dogs

Your dog may not be suffering from the extreme condition known as Rage Syndrome. Instead, it’s possible he/she is reacting in response to a variety of triggers.

The origins of aggression may be found deep inside the brain; partial seizures cause short-lived but terrifying outbursts of fury and hostility.

For dogs engaged in canine sports, their aggression at the sport should also not be confused with a rage condition.

Territorial Aggression

This is a common type of aggression in some breeds. Breeds known to be good guard dogs may feel threatened when a stranger approaches the property. In some cases, dogs may growl or snap at other animals as well.

It can happen while the dog is in the yard or even in house at the window or door.

Possession Aggression

When a dog develops possession aggression, also known as resource guarding, he/she will growl or threaten to attack when anyone nears his owner, food, or toys.

Frustrated-Elicited Aggression

Redirected aggression, also known as barrier frustration, is caused by frustration.

Dogs that spend a lot of time tethered, on a leash, or behind a chain-link fence are more likely to exhibit this form of aggressiveness.

Sometimes dogs will redirect aggression when they cannot access an object they want. This behavior often referred to as redirected aggression, is a trait of dogs and other animals such as cats.

Redirected Aggression

Redirected aggression occurs when a dog displays aggression to another animal or person, but someone steps in to stop it. When that happens, the dog’s aggression can turn on the individual that stepped in.

Unfortunately, many people are bitten when trying to break up dog fights because of redirected aggression.

Maternal Aggression

Any mother, human or animal, understands the fierce protection that comes with the job. It’s a natural reaction that can lead to serious consequences in dogs.

Dogs may snarl, growl, bark, or snap at people who get too close to their new litter. Thankfully, this type of aggression usually subsides within a few weeks of giving birth.

Pain or Irritable Aggression

One of the common causes of aggression and rage in dogs is pain. If a dog becomes aggressive suddenly, it may be in severe pain, stress and discomfort.

Some of the common illnesses that can cause severe pain in dogs include:

• Internal injuries
• Bone fractures
• Lacerations
• Tumors
• Arthritis
• Dental disease
• Neurological disease
• Immune mediated disease

If your dog is suffering from medical problems, including dental disease, you’ll need to figure out what’s wrong before you start treating it.

Don’t attempt to solve the problem yourself until you’ve figured out what you’re up against. Only your dog’s veterinarian can tell you which drugs are right for him.

Predatory Aggression

Predatory aggression involves posturing like crouching and stalking another animal. It can occur in conjunction with other types of aggression in dogs including maternal and territorial.

Social-Conflict Aggression

Social aggression may occur when a dog is fearful or uncertain in various social settings. These dogs are not dominant, but may be insecure.

Sexual Aggression

Sexual aggression tends to occur in male and female dogs who have not been spayed or neutered. Hormones released signal sex-drive and competition in the animal species.

Pemphigus foliaceus, though rare in dogs, is one of the illnesses that cause too much pain to the dog and can result in heightened aggression.

Dogs with severe pemphigus foliaceus have a survival time of one year. During this time, the dog should be treated by a veterinarian to save the dog from severe aggression arising from pain and discomfort.

Dogs might become aggressive as a result of certain medical conditions.

Sickness or illness may be to blame if a dog that has never shown unusual signs of hostility and suddenly starts snarling, snapping, or biting.

Dogs should undergo special testing at all times from a qualified doctor to rule out some of the common causes of aggression.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a common chronic problem among dogs, especially purebreds, causing blindness.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in dogs is a known cause of aggression. It is imperative to seek help from a qualified and experienced veterinary doctor for proper diagnosis.

Fear or Anxiety Aggression

Dogs who have experienced abuse, neglect, or have been abandoned are often fearful of new people, places, and other dogs.

They may be aggressive towards their owners because they feel threatened. Dogs who have been abused or neglected are more likely to exhibit this type of behavior than dogs properly socialized as puppies.

When a dog is exposed to human behavior or other animals that it is unfamiliar with or that have previously been connected with an unpleasant or scary experience, fear-related aggression may arise.

Some canines learn and generalize from a single encounter, whereas others need repeated chances to create a behavioral pattern based on past experiences.

Fear-related violence is often perceived as a mixture or complicating component of another type of aggression.

Most instances of fear aggression may be treated with behavior treatment, sometimes in conjunction with medication therapy.

Rage syndrome is also known as Springer Rage Pin

9 Signs of Rage Syndrome in Dogs

Dogs with this condition seem to snap out of the blue. Normally, dogs go through a series of postures to hint that they are about to become aggressive. Dogs with rage syndrome still go through these postures, but it all happens much more quickly.

Remember, rage syndrome is much different from other types of aggression. This comes out of nowhere without any apparent triggers. It’s a violent, quick attack that takes you by surprise. It’s also a very dangerous situation to be in.

The signs of an impending attack may or may not have the following characteristics. In some cases, they all happen at once. It may be very difficult to stop the attack from happening since you can’t be sure what’s going to trigger it.

1. Depression

In some cases, dogs may show signs of a low mood or depression before attacking.

2. Growling, Barking, Snarling

Dogs may suddenly begin vocalizing for no obvious reason. There are often no triggers. This is because the condition is neurological, not spurred by any obvious threat.

3. Violent and Uncontrolled Aggressiveness

Aggression may be shown in various ways, including restrained communication like a warning growl, snarl, or snap, as well as severe uncontrolled repeated bites.

4. Baring Teeth

The time between a dog baring his/her teeth and an actual physical attack can happen in seconds.

5. Curling Lips

Curling lips often happens in conjunction with the above signs.

6. The dog attacks without warning signs

Symptoms include scratching and biting without warning.

7. The dog attacks unprovoked.

Dogs are usually very good at reading people. They know when a person is happy, sad, angry or scared. In the case of a dog with anger syndrome, it has been observed that they attack and bite people at random times without any provocation.

While most of these incidents happen unprovoked and typically stem from a lack of training, some are out of the owner’s control.

There have been cases where people were attacked by their pets and when animals have been attacked for no reason at all.

8. The dog’s body becomes stiff, and eyes glaze

One of the most common signs of impending aggression occurs when a dog’s body stiffens, his hackles raise, and he starts to growl. A dog’s eyes may also start to glaze over as the body enters into a state of rage.

These body language cues provide an important opportunity for humans to understand what their dogs are feeling and reflect on behavior.

9. Lack of remorse or recollection

After a rage episode, the dog is exhausted, disoriented and unsure of what is happening around it, similar to coming out of a seizure.

Partially complex seizures are caused by electrical activity in the temporal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for memory, feeling, and emotion.

Seizures in this region may cause aggressive responses and dangerous behavior, particularly protective and predatory behavior.

However, confronting or challenging the dog is likely to escalate the dog’s aggression, inflict harm, reinforce the aggression’s success and make the dog terrified of future such confrontations.

Treatment Options for Rage in Dogs

Rage Syndrome is also known as idiopathic aggression. In clinical terms, idiopathic means “no known cause”. Without a cause, it’s difficult to find the right treatment options.

Sadly, the prognosis for dogs with this condition is poor. The unpredictability, lack of treatment, unknown cause, and risk of death and injury to others typically lead to the dog being euthanized.

Thankfully, the condition is relatively rare.

Behavior Modification

There’s a good chance your dog does not have true rage syndrome. The first thing you should do is find a skilled behavior consultant who can help to assess the causes of your dog’s aggression.

With the right trainer, it may be possible to pinpoint what’s happening and work towards reducing and eliminating that threat.

Visit the Veterinarian

Don’t wait to see a veterinarian, even if your dog doesn’t have rage syndrome. Aggression is a serious condition that may be due to underlying medical problems.

You can still make an appointment with a trainer, but there’s no reason to hold off going to the veterinarian in the meantime.

Phenobarbital

Anticonvulsant medicine, such as phenobarbital, may be used to end the anger syndrome episodes. While some dogs only have a single dosage, others may require lifetime therapy with routine blood tests to track the outcomes and unwanted effects.

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Summary

It will also be necessary to keep a close eye on your dog’s conduct.

If your dog has been diagnosed with a seizure disorder, your veterinarian will offer advice on how to best manage the symptoms.

Euthanasia may be considered if the violence cannot be controlled. It’s a sad outcome, but may be necessary for the safety of others (including children and other animals).

Treatment for idiopathic aggressiveness is complex and sometimes futile without identifying the reason. Because of how unpredictable the outbursts are, the illness is very hard to control properly.

Sources:

aspca.org

VCA Hospitals – Aggression in Dogs – Territorial

NCBI Abstract – Maternal Behavior in Domestic Dogs

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