Is your dog mentally ill? Maybe.
My friend Hilary shared this link a while back (The Signs of Mental Illness in Dogs) and I thought it was worth sharing. It’s a piece highlighting a new textbook on canine mental illness and some of the mental illnesses being found in our furry friends.
Reports like these always interest me because they provide insight into a dog’s mind and behavior. They also allow me to be more aware and better educated about dogs in general.
As dog owners, I think we most often attribute dog behavior to the dog or the owner (i.e., “bad dog” or “bad owner”), but as this piece demonstrates, sometimes the behavior can be mental illness. I have known some dogs who have suffered a mental illness, I just never realized that so many different types exist.
Among the many illnesses described by the author, Diane Garrod, are:
Unprovoked acts of aggression
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Separation Anxiety or Panic Disorder
Neurological diseases and disorders
Symptoms vary, but among the ones mentioned are:
Increase or decrease in water intake
Stress Hair loss
Garrod also references a new textbook by Dr. Franklin D. McMillan (the Director of Well-Being Studies at Best Friends Animal Society), titled “Mental Health and Well-being in Animals”. Although textbooks aren’t usually my favorite reading material, I have to admit that this one sounded interesting.
One of the statements on the publishing site caught my eye: “Recent research shows convincingly that an animal’s physical health and immune system function are strongly influenced by its mental state.” It makes sense doesn’t it? A dog that is mentally stressed is likely to show it in their physical being as well. A dog that is balanced and happy is less likely to show symptoms, but not always.
Understanding how a dog’s mental health can impact behavior is just as important as understanding how their physical health can impact behavior. I am so glad that now veterinarians and animal behaviorists will have one comprehensive place to find this information. In the end, it benefits us and our dogs.