Dogs are highly intelligent and emotional creatures who quickly adapt to surroundings and human world. If you have a dog, then you shouldn’t doubt his feelings because he can suffer from the effects of those emotions and also experience disorders like anxiety. But, can we consider dogs mentally handicapped? Mentally ill dogs will show the first signs of illness at the age of five weeks. The early symptoms are difficulty in learning and getting along with other dogs. We can correlate this condition to autism with people. Some puppies will show exaggerated startle reflex, while others will show aggression, threatening to become potential biters.
When the dog turns three, he will be at the peak of this condition. When you are facing this type of situation, it is required to maintain environmental stimuli to a minimum. Same as people, pets with autism need calm and peaceful environment. You should avoid subjecting them to loud noises, touch then gently and provide them stable home conditions. In some cases, prescribed medications can be one of the options.
While some expert thinks dogs can’t have autism, while others claim otherwise. Doctors who fall into the other group claim that autism can only be connected to people. Some dogs are less social than others, but that doesn’t mean they have autism. The antisocial behavior is often caused by the lack of socialization as a puppy. In most cases, this condition appears when a dog has been abused for a long time. Therefore, the scientists automatically exclude autism with dogs, and they have the same opinion with Down syndrome. They consider that this mental illness is impossible for dogs to get. It’s a human-specific disorder where there is an extra chromosome present. So far, there have been no proven cases where dogs were diagnosed with Down syndrome. On the other hand, dementia is a real disease in dogs, and it’s more common that dog parents realize.
Can dogs become senile
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome often occurs in older dogs, and it’s similar to humans. Based on science, CDS is a condition when the brain suffers a series of changes that result in a loss of thinking, loss of memory and recognition. The dogs have problems repeating already established and learned behavior and habits. Research shows that 50% of dogs who are more than ten years old show more than one signs of CDS. The symptoms may include confusion, disorientation, loss of appetite and recognition of people and owners, loss of bladder control, aggression and excessive vocalization.
How to test dogs for mental disorders
Considering the only diagnosed psychological illness in dogs is CDS, diagnosing the problem depends on ruling out other physical conditions. You need to be very careful when diagnosing CDS because many physical ailments can be mixed with this mental disorder. But, there are a couple of ways which can help you determine their psychological stability.
Testing their eyesight – many dogs have reduced vision as they age. They rely on their ability to see things up close and in this case, they will show a series of symptoms when they can’t see properly. It’s essential to test their eyesight before you conclude. If they can’t see well, then they will express confusion, difficulty in eating from their bowl and recognizing people. On the other hand, if their sight is good, and they pass the examination, then you are probably dealing with CDS.
Radiographs – x-rays will tell the vets everything they need to know about the health condition of dogs. Radiographs aren’t only used for broken bones. They can show whether the kidneys are enlarged if they have a heart condition, or if there are tumors present in their body. Older dogs should be submitted to x-ray every year to ensure their body is in good shape. If your dog is starting to lose appetite, it doesn’t mean he is suffering from CDS; it might be the sign of something else.
Bloodwork – annual blood check is essential for the health of your dog. Liver and kidneys are usually the first organs that show signs of disease and an early discovery is key to long-term health. By having their kidneys and liver checked every year, you are ruling out any physical condition, but also spotting the early signs of cancer and endocrine disorders. We asked Angie Hill, the editor of Woof Dog and she confirmed that regular checkup can prolong the life of your furry friend.