Is my dog Autistic?
While it has not been confirmed, there are suggestions that Autism-like symptoms do occur in man’s best friend. The problem in an Autism diagnosis in dogs lies in understanding what behaviors in dogs are considered typical and what behaviors are considered atypical. While autism is quite easy to diagnose in humans, it is more difficult to diagnose in animals. If you are concerned if your pooch has Autism, it is important to know the characteristics of Autism. Like in humans, our fuzzy friends can also exhibit atypical behaviors in how they react to the world surrounding them.
Canine Autism Definition
Canines that are reactive and often lacking socialization skills thought to be caused by improperly working neurons. Some Veterinarians refer to the condition as dysfunctional canine behavior. Like human beings diagnosed with autism, canines show a lack of emotion or interest in being close with their mother, siblings, or human parent from a young age.
History of Canine Autism
The possibility of canine Autism being a definitive diagnosis has long been explored by Veterinarians since the mid-1960s. Evidence in the research has been inconclusive as to whether or not Canine Autism truly exists. What we do know is how Autism presents in humans, therefore providing a stepping stone to expand research regarding canine Autism further. Evidence in the research does suggest that dogs do and can present with behaviors similar to humans with an Autism diagnosis.
Symptoms of Canine Autism
Symptoms of canine Autism are similar to the symptoms presented in humans. Puppies show little interest in interacting with mom, playing, eating, or romping with their siblings. It is important to watch for other behaviors that are outlined below.
Now repetitive behavior does not mean going out to do their business at the same time each morning or waiting for their evening walk. Repetitive behavior includes behaviors, no matter what may happen that day, that the dog can not stray away from. Some examples include excessive tail-chasing or walking in circles. When you try to brake these behaviors, does your does present aggressively? If so, yes, they may have canine autism, but it is recommended it be brought to your Veterinarian’s attention.
Dogs can indeed exhibit Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. While it presents similarly in humans, the key characteristics to look for in a dog include the placement of their food dish or bed in a certain way. Dogs with canine Autism may refuse to eat until their food bowls are placed in a certain room of the house. They may want their food bowl on the right and water bowl on the left. If the bowls are reversed, they may refuse to eat until the bowls are switched back to the way they prefer. Also, they may not take a liking to their beds being moved to different areas of a room or the house.
Social Awkwardness and Nervousness
As we all know, canines are very social creatures. They thrive off of companionship and the love of their people. If you have a dog that exhibits social awkwardness and remains awkward with you, it is recommended you watch their behaviors closely. Remember, dogs are social creatures! They want to hang out with us and cuddle. They want to play with us. If your dog doesn’t want to partake in these activities, then something is wrong. Maybe the problem is canine Autism, or maybe it caused by another underlying condition. Regardless, it is important to have your canine friend checked out if these symptoms continue for extended periods. Another symptom is the inability to cope with unexpected stimuli, such as thunder, loud noises, and fireworks. Severe anxiety to overexposed stimuli is a common symptom of Autism.
Lack of Enthusiasm
As stated earlier, dogs are social creatures. They thrive off of pleasing their humans. They live to run, play catch, go for walks, and ride in the car if your dog does not show enthusiasm for these activities, he or she may have canine autism. Again, these are behaviors you should keep an eye on and bring to the attention of your Veterinarian. It is better to error on the side of caution and have your pet checked.
Displays of Emotionlessness
I know I keep repeating dogs are social creatures, but let’s face it, dogs wear their emotions on their sleeves…or should I say paws. We know when they are happy, sad, excited, or afraid. However, some dogs exhibit no emotion; they always look the same, almost like they are in a trance with a poker face. Dogs presenting the later behavior should be closely watched as they may be Autistic.
How Is Canine Autism Diagnosed?
At this time, there is no formal test for canine Autism. Should you suspect your dog has canine autism, it is recommended you contact your veterinarian immediately for an exam. They should be able to provide you with some advice as to what may be happening with your pet. Also, your Vet will be able to make recommendations on how to manage symptoms or behaviors. This, in turn, will assist you in maintaining their health and safety.
What to Bring During the Vet Exam
It will be helpful to document your dog’s daily routine and present an outline to your Vet. You will ant to include challenging behaviors, worrisome behaviors, and symptoms that are presenting. You will want to make your Vet aware of any new health problems, repetitive behaviors, or triggers that may cause a behavior. In turn, your Vet will be able to help you manage your dog’s symptoms so they can lead a calm and stress-free life.
Ways to Manage Your Autistic Canine
Once you have provided a symptomatic outline to your Vet, they will be able to support you and your pooch better. Depending upon the behaviors and symptoms your pet is experiencing, you can work behavior intervention. Behavior intervention is a process of redirecting unwanted behaviors positively. Another suggestion is to provide an environment that will minimize triggers that create stress or behaviors. By doing this, the stress levels of your dog will most likely decrease and become more manageable.