Researchers Believe Dogs Can Suffer From ADHD

Researchers from the Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg in Germany set out to look at similarities of the human Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and behaviors in dogs that might garner the same diagnoses. They used an extensive set of questionnaires that they gave to dog owners, looking at dog personalities as well as social and environmental factors for each dog.

In humans, ADHD has been and continues to be studied tremendously, with much focus being given to children and their functions. Symptoms of the disorder include distractibility, hyperactivity, inability to focus and pay attention for sustained times, impuslivity and even snappy or aggressive behavior.

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Current consensus among many researchers is that dogs may actually also suffer from ADHD, and this belief is due to the fact that dogs have similar physical markers for the disorder as is in humans. For instance, low blod phospholipid levels have been found in humans diagnosed with the disorder and dogs who exhibit similar behaviors. Some research has evenfound a genetic predisposition  toward ADHD in certain breeds–like German Shepherds, for instance.

The latest research looked at various analyses of the questions and answers posed to dog owners, and found that dogs who are most likely to exhibit symptoms associated with human ADHD are also dogs who owners did not rate as being calmer dogs. Those dogs also were rated as less sociable and trainable.

The researchers also found that environmental and social conditions have an affect on the ADHD symptom presentation. Dogs who have lots of social interaction with other people and dogs tend to have fewer symptoms of ADHD. Dogs who have long periods of being alone tended to be more hyperactive when their owners return. The researchers also discovered that dogs who slept alone (not near their owners or other dogs) tended to show more ADHD behaviors and dogs who have been neutered also have more ADHD symptoms (somewhat contradicting the theory that neutering a male dog will help calm him down).

So how do you know if your dog is ADHD for real? The researchers claim that the only true way to know is to give your dog (with your vet’s controlled direction) a stimulant and monitor physical changes like heart rate, behavior and respiratory rate. In a dog with ADHD, much like humans, the stimulant will actually reduce the symptomology of ADHD.

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Is it worth doing, though? Giving your dog a stimulant so they don’t act so…well, ADHD? Depends on the dysfunction the ADHD behaviors bring to your dog and your life. For a dog who truly does have behavior and physical changes with the medicine, treating them may make it easier to train them and to help them be better members of your family and their pack. It’s something for sure worth talking with your veterinarian about, though, as just as it is for humans, ADHD in your dog may be pretty frustrating for your dog and your dog’s loved ones (that’s YOU!) and that’s not fair to anyone.


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