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Human-directed aggressive behaviour as the main presenting sign in dogs subsequently diagnosed with diskospondylitis
  1. Nadja Affenzeller1,2,
  2. Kevin James McPeake1,
  3. Jamie McClement3 and
  4. Helen Zulch1
  1. 1 Animal Behaviour Clinic, Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK
  2. 2 Department of Companion Animals, Clinical Unit of Internal Medicine Small Animals, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  3. 3 Abington Park Surgery, Northampton, Northamptonshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nadja Affenzeller; naffenzeller{at}


This is the first report of aggressive behaviour as the primary presenting sign in two dogs subsequently found to have chronic diskospondylitis, with neither dog showing other typical clinical signs of this condition. Mild signs of pain were elicited on physical examination in both dogs. Further medical investigation revealed signs indicative of chronic diskospondylitis (L7/S1) and treatment with analgesics and antibiotics was commenced. A marked improvement in behaviour was seen in both dogs when on treatment. Dog 1 stopped exhibiting unpredictable episodes of growling and biting when handled or approached and dog 2 stopped vocalising and occasional growling when handled or lifted. Gradual treatment withdrawal (dog 1 after six weeks and dog 2 after four weeks, respectively) caused a recurrence of behaviour signs thus further treatment was recommenced. Continued follow-up over a year revealed the importance of long-term use of analgesics to prevent behavioural deterioration when chronic lesions are present.

  • Dogs
  • Diskospondylitis
  • Aggression
  • Human
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  • Contributors All authors contributed substantially in creating and writing this manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available for this paper.

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