Rage syndrome is a rare problem that occurs in some dogs. The dog behaves normally most of the time, and then one day, without warning the dog may go crazy, and attack whomever is nearest. As unpredicted as it started, the rage will suddenly end and the dog will return to “normal”.
Rage syndrome is a form of epilepsy in dogs. While it can occur in any breed it is more common in some such as Chow Chows, English Bull Terriers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Papillons, and Springer Spaniels, in fact in Springer Spaniels the condition is so common that it is often referred to as “Springer Rage”.
What occurs is that dog dog suffers a seizure to the emotional lobe of its brain, causing even the best natured dog to act with total aggression even in a nonthreatening environment. The dogs eyes may appear to “glaze over” just prior to the attack.
Some dogs are bad tempered, the result of poor socialization, poor training, poor genetics, or hormones. This is not the case in Rage Syndrome, where the dogs could be very well mannered, calm, and obedient, until the seizure hits. As such, a dog who is constantly challenging its owner probably does not have rage syndrome, but rather is a dog who simply has not been trained correctly, or who has been allowed to challenge the owners dominance.
To diagnose Rage Syndrome correctly a veterinarian, dog behaviorist, or neurologist, should be consulted. Two opinions may be even better than one. Rage syndrome can be controlled somewhat with medication for epilepsy, but due to the unpredictable nature of this occurrence, and the risk factor, euthanasia is often an option.
Owners of dogs with rage syndrome should be cautioned strongly against abandoning the dog, selling it, or surrendering to an animal shelter, without notifying them of the dogs condition. Doing so may even be considered criminal in some cases (failure to inform that the dog has a history of aggression).
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