My 10 year old poodle has begun to chew up everything in sight and growls when I stroke her. Why is this?

Poodles do tend to suffer from bad teeth, and it could be that your poodle needs some dental work. Like a young puppy, she could be chewing in the hope of relieving the irritation caused by her teeth or gums. Bad breath and difficulty in eating are further likely indicators of dental disease. Arrange a veterinary check-up. Provide her with some chews of her own, so that she may then be less inclined to tear your home apart.

elderly poodleThe growling might be a sign that she is in pain because of her teeth but it could also be an indicator that she is going deaf. This type of behaviour is not uncommon - it is almost as if the dog is trying to work out what is wrong, having been used to hearing itself bark and growl in the past. About 1 in 10 dogs of her age are afflicted by deafness, although they tend to compensate well, making it difficult to be sure of any hearing impairment. Again, your vet will be able to check on this for you.

Even clapping your hands gently out of your dog’s sight above her head may not give a reliable result, because this will create air currents which register on the whiskers above the eyes for example, attracting your dog’s attention. There is no treatment available for deafness, but in familiar surroundings, dogs manage very well.

Dogs suffering from deafness rely much more on their sense of smell to orientate themselves, rather than their hearing. Where a deaf dog is at risk, however, is when it is out for a walk, as it may not hear a vehicle approaching at speed. It is especially important that such dogs are never allowed to wander near roads for this reason, as they could stray into the vehicle’s path.