Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Both people and dogs can suffer from behaviors that are excessive and stereotypic. In dogs, they most often take the form of tail chasing, flank sucking, spot staring, self licking or imaginary fly biting. The dog can become so preoccupied with these behaviors that he neglects to eat or partake in other normal activities.
How does my dog get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
In most cases the cause is unknown. Boredom, stress, and attention seeking may be components of stereotypic behavior but do not of themselves create obsessive-compulsive behavior. Some infections and metabolic diseases, as well as neurological diseases, can also be components, but do not create the condition. Because some breeds are more prone than others, a hereditary component affecting neurotransmitters (the chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells) is suspected. Dogs with this predisposition may then have the behavior triggered by exposure to certain stimuli or situations.
How do I know if my dog has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
If your dog spends an inordinate amount of time performing a behavior that is the same over and over, especially if you can see no reward that he gets from it, and if you cannot dissuade him from doing it for an appreciable amount of time, to the point it interferes with normal life, he may have an obsessive compulsive disorder. Most affected dogs have only one compulsive behavior. Examples include constantly spinning in a circle, chasing the tail, running back and forth along a fence, barking to himself, snapping in the air, staring at a spot on the floor or wall, licking or chewing at his own body, eating nonfood items, or masturbating. Doberman Pinschers are especially known for flank sucking. Bull Terriers are known for tail chasing. Jack Russell and Parson Russell Terriers are known for spot staring.
What can I do about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Try to distract or discourage the behavior as soon as it begins. Train your dog to do some tricks or alternative behaviors he can't do at the same time as the objectionable behavior. Exercise him so he's too tired to do the unwanted behavior. Try to remove any stressful stimuli, and prevent boredom. In many cases these attempts will not be helpful. You should try to videotape the behavior so you can show it to your veterinarian. She will perform blood tests to look for any abnormalities and to establish a baseline for drug treatment. She may confer with a veterinary behaviorist for current treatment regimes, which usually combine drugs to combat obsessive-compulsive disorders along with counter-conditioning in which the dog is rewarded for performing another behavior instead.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Discourage your dog from partaking in behaviors prone to obsessive compulsive disorder. For example, do not encourage your Bull Terrier to chase her tail at all, and do not play with laser light toys with your Jack Russell Terrier. Seek veterinary advice if you suspect obsessive-compulsive behavior. It is easier to stop before it becomes entrenched.
Are there certain breeds that get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder more often?
The condition is seen in all breeds, but Bull Terriers, Jack Russell and Parson Russell Terriers, and Doberman Pinschers are most known for it.