Obsessive-compulsive behavior in dogs. What is canine OCD?

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Obsessive-compulsive behavior in dogs. What is canine OCD?


Stereotypes, also known as compulsive behaviors or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), involve a dog showing ordinary behavior in an exaggerated and obsessive manner that it is difficult to stop it. Most of these behaviors are pointless, but dogs suffering from obsessive-compulsive behavior may devote up to 80% of their activity to it. Repeated behavior can prevent the pet from functioning normally and even pose a risk to his health. The most common stereotypes in dogs include:

Of course, such behavior happens to almost everyone, including a fully healthy dog. However, frequent repetition of them, which leads to damage to the body (wounds on the tail, wounds on the paws, tearing of the claws) or hindering normal functioning, may indicate stereotyping. Some dogs are so absorbed in a given behavior that they forget to eat, sleep, and even faint from exhaustion. Restrained from a given behavior, a quadruped may become aggressive or run away to another room.

Obsessive-compulsive behavior in dogs – causes

In a large proportion of dogs, obsessive-compulsive behavior is caused by the stress they feel. Repeating a given behavior allows the dog to avoid confrontation with a stressful stimulus and brings relief. It also stimulates the brain to secrete serotonin and endorphins – happiness hormones that can make your pet addicted. Therefore, we can see stereotypes in dogs suffering from separation anxiety, improperly socialized and fearful in contacts with other dogs or people. These behaviors can become permanent and become more difficult to treat over time. Some of them are funny in the eyes of their caretakers – human laughter and joy prompts the animal to present compulsive behaviors even more often!

Repetitive behavior can also be the result of boredom and the lack of a healthy outlet for the pet’s energy. Occasionally, OCD can be a symptom of severe neurological disorders and dementia.

How to treat obsessive-compulsive behavior in dogs?

Diagnosing stereotypes in dogs can be extremely difficult. There are many other disorders that can have symptoms similar to OCD. In the beginning, therefore, ailments such as digestive disorders, allergies, skin diseases and epilepsy should be excluded.

Treatment of OCD in dogs depends on its symptoms and intensity. In light cases, it is enough to modify the dog’s environment by reducing the stress it feels, increasing the number of relaxing walks and establishing a routine that is safe and clear for the dog. More difficult cases may also require the administration of psychotropic drugs and implementation of behavioral therapy.

Author: Aleksandra Prochocka

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