Can Dogs Get OCD?

And how to treat repetitive behaviors 💕

Have you ever wondered if dogs can get OCD (aka obsessive compulsive disorder)?

Turns out dogs can’t actually be diagnosed with OCD like humans can, but a dog can still display compulsive behaviors and might even need help managing them.

Sound confusing? It’ll make more sense once you read on.

Can dogs have OCD?

According to Dr. Walter Burghardt, Jr., a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, OCD also includes obsessive thoughts that a person has, and since we’ll never know exactly what our dogs are thinking, we can’t actually say that a dog has OCD.

“We sometimes use the term OCD colloquially and medically rather freely when discussing pet behavior,” Dr. Burghardt told The Dodo. “This diagnosis is best reserved for humans who have the ability to verbally identify motivational states of obsession (an inability to exclude certain thoughts) and compulsion (a difficult-to-break need to engage in a particular set of behaviors).”

“That said, there are certainly certain behaviors in dogs that suggest that some animals are experiencing an inordinate drive to engage in a particular behavior or attend to a specific event in their environment,” Dr. Burghardt said.

What this means is that dogs technically can’t have OCD because they can’t tell us the thought process behind their behavior — but they can still display compulsive behaviors.But let’s be honest, pet parents do know what their dogs are thinking, right?

Obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs symptoms

In dogs, compulsive behavior is usually seen as repetitive performances of a specific set of behaviors for a longer-than-expected period of time (or displayed completely out of context).

Compulsive behaviors can include things like:

  • Tail chasing
  • Pawing
  • Pacing
  • Licking
  • Spinning

How to treat OCD in dogs

According to Dr. Burghardt, these behaviors are normally treated with medications that help reduce the motivation to do these compulsive behaviors.

You can also enrich your dog's environment to provide her with lots of fun activities. This helps to redirect repetitive behaviors when appropriate and possible.

Providing environmental enrichment and encouraging exploration and play are great ways to engage a dog's energy and problem-solving needs.

Like this puzzle game from Amazon for $14.32

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“This may be particularly important in those dogs with high energy levels and those that are really inquisitive,” Dr. Burghardt said.If you notice your dog seems to have compulsive behaviors, reach out to your vet to see if treatment is needed.

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