At one point or the other, you have definitely heard of people who behave in a particular way as a result of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
OCD in dogs is no different.
Such a person may wash his or her hands continuously for fear of contaminating germs. Others might show fear of unknown by returning home from time to time just to make sure that the gas is off.
Sadly, it is not only humans who are affected by OCD; dogs get affected too, and tend to have a wide range of OCD related behaviors.
So What Really is Obsessive Compulsive Behavior?
OCD is defined as a psychiatric disorder which results to obsessive compulsive actions and thoughts, and can be quite disabling if it is allowed to persist. A dog that suffers from OCD tends to be trapped in a pattern of repetitive behavior which appears to be senseless and quite distressing. This behavioral pattern is usually very hard to overcome.
How is OCD in Dogs Displayed?
OCD in dogs can be displayed in a number of ways. Dogs affected can display compulsion in the form of; shadow or light chasing, snapping, barking, toy fixation and excessive licking. Normal dogs also perform such actions but they only do so in response to various triggers. A dog that displays compulsion will repeatedly perform these actions over and over again even without any form of trigger.
There are certain breeds of dogs that are related to certain compulsive disorders. For example, golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers are mainly associated with excessive licking problems. Doberman pinschers also tend to flank suck more often compared to other breeds.
The following are possible signs and symptoms of OCD in dogs
- Evidence of self-mutilation e.g. raw skin and missing hair
- Frequent tail chasing
- Intense behavior that cannot be interrupted even with physical restraint
- Existence of behavior that interferes with normal functioning.
It is important to first look at the general things one can do to a dog affected by OCD.
It is vital to ensure that your dog is fed with a well-balanced diet, as this is the foundation of a vibrant and healthy dog.
- Provision of a sound a resilient body, which can be enhanced with a perfect environmental setting.
- Increase exercise by taking walks and hikes.
- Engage the dog with games like fetch the ball, tug of war and roller blade.
OCD in Dogs; Prevention, Control and Treatment
1. Correct Any Stress Factors
During the process of treatment it is always important to identify underlying problems like tract disease, flea infestation and other health conditions. These health problems might be the main reason for your dog showing compulsive behavior. These are termed as stressors and if eliminated can solve the problem of your dog exhibiting excessive compulsive disorder.
2. Behavior Modification
During treatment, the most adopted form of medication is usually environment and behavior modification. This requires the dog owner to closely work with a veterinarian in adopting an activity that best helps the dog. This can range from a simple playing activity to a long walk. Punishment should never be used as a form of behavior modification. Punishment normally increases the level of anxiety and as a result aggravates the matter.
3. Prescription Medications
There are quite a number of prescribed medicines that can be used to help dogs with OCD. These medications work by altering neurotransmitters and the neurochemical balance in the dog’s brain. The main prescription medications that are normally used include tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
These medications are normally considered to be effective but at times they are characterized by adverse effects especially when used with parasite preventatives and medication.
4. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy can be used as form treatment to dogs that display excessive compulsive behavior. Massage works by reducing stress and anxiety. This helps to promote calmness, wellness, comfort and confidence.
In conclusion it is true to say that the successful treatment of a dog with obsessive compulsive disorder, highly depends on the owner’s commitment to the whole process. Treatment will also largely depend on identifying underlying causes which can include anxiety, stress and health related problems. It is therefore important for a dog owner to identify the underlying cause of his or her dog’s problem and show dedication towards solving the discovered problem.