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Is Your Dog Possessed or Obsessed?

September 19, 2017


Maybe you've watch your dog as he or she snaps the air in pursuit of biting invisible things that don't appear to be there, or have listened to a neighbor's pet bark obsessively in a rhythmic cadence. Similar to what doctors have observed in human patients, veterinarians are now developing a better understanding of how obsessive and compulsive behaviors affect canines. However, unlike humans, your best friend can't tell you what is on their mind or how they feel. So, veterinarians are challenged to differentiate between what is normal behavior and when an intervention is needed to provide relief for your pet.

Listed below are behaviors that may become obsessive in some dogs:

  • Obsessive Spinning or Circling
  • Snapping at Unseen Objects
  • Incessant or Rhythmic Barking
  • Flank Sucking as a Coping Mechanism
  • Lick Dermatitis or Missing Hair
  • Appetite for Non-Food Items (e.g. - Rocks)
  • Compulsive Tail Chasing
  • Obsessive Gnawing or Chewing

Before you become too concerned about the quirky things your pet does, remember that any of the behaviors discussed here can be triggered by a normal response mechanism. Some dogs are natural barkers, chasing one's tail can simply be a fun game and bringing you a favorite stone they found can be a gesture of friendship. It is only when behaviors begin to interfere with your pet's normal activities that you should be concerned. Adding to the uncertainty in trying to diagnose your pet's actions, some of the behaviors mentioned above are more commonly seen in big dogs rather than little ones, or are specific to dogs of a particular breed.

Your first step should be to have a veterinarian perform a thorough check up to dismiss or confirm underlying factors that may be causing your pet's unique behavior. Research has shown painful conditions, dementia, medical illness, separation anxiety, aging, genetic background, too little exercise or a lack of socialization can contribute to compulsive or obsessive disorders. In some cases, your veterinarian may choose to prescribe a serotonin reuptake similar to the medications used to treat OCD in human patients. If you're concerned about your pet, make sure they are eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise, showered with love and affection and schedule an appointment with a caring veterinarian at PrimeVET.

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