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can dogs be autistic

Can Dogs Be Autistic? Are There Any Signs Of Autism In Dogs?

It’s fairly easy to notice traits of autism spectrum disorder in humans – the mental complication is so commonly known lately. It also leads to a lot of owners wondering: can dogs be autistic? If so, how can you tell if your dog is having autism?

What Is Autism? What Are Its Traits In Humans?

We must first understand the definition of autism in humans, and how it affects people’s way of thinking.

According to the Centers for Disease Controls and Preventions, autism disorder spectrum (ADS) is a developmental disability. This disorder causes noticeable social and behavioral challenges:

Have A Hard Time With Communication And Social Interactions

People with autism find it extremely uncomforting having to engage in conversations, even with family members. They can’t speak or delay talking until much older, and usually speak in an irregular tone. They don’t seem to respond to questions or commands you give them.
For most cases, they prefer to be in their own world and have inappropriate ways of approaching social interactions. Therefore, these people are usually misunderstood as aggressive or ignorant.
Other less severe cases might still find it hard to keep up eye contact with people. They lack facial expressions and seem to be unaware of others’ emotions.
Is it possible for dogs to have autism symptoms like humans do?

Have Specific Patterns Of Behavior And Interests

Since autistic people interact less, they also acquire fewer what we call “common sense”. Autism causes a repetitive pattern of how a person acts, for example flapping hands and flicking fingers repeatedly. These people are also unable to coordinate their body, so they are oddly stiff or clumsy.
A sudden difference in these patterns will cause a tremendous effect. It is quite typical for autism people to have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as well, since they are irritated with even the slightest change. They are easily fixated or obsessed with details, but don’t get the entire perspective.
Moreover, autistic people are unusually sensitive to light, touch and sound. However, they are ignorant of pain, so it’s easy for them to hurt themselves.

Can Dogs Have Autism?

Then, can animals have autism as well? Some dogs, in fact, do show behaviors that are similar to those of human autism. Therefore, a few researchers have conducted experiments on whether dogs can be autistic.

The dogs in those experiments displayed traits very much identical to autism. They obsessively chased their tails, were fixated on certain objects or stared at a wall blankly. By studying their brain and genetic components, it turned out that only certain breeds with specific traits might suffer from this behavior.
can dogs be autistic
Researchers have found symptoms similar to autism on dogs
It was suggested that they may just have compulsive disorder. However, further analysis on their blood revealed there were hormones closely linked to autism. They also respond to similar medication that aids autism in humans.
Even though it’s not completely confirmed, we are now aware that there is a canine version of autism. This applies to the breed of dog in the study, but there are also chances that other breeds can have these syndromes.

Traits Of A Dog With Canine Autism

As mentioned, although dogs are not proven to have autism, they can show behavioral quirks very much alike those of human:

Autistic Dogs Might Repeat Strange Behaviors

You might notice that your dog keeps doing one thing over and over again. It can be chasing his tail nonstop, chewing on his leg or licking something in repeat.

dog chasing his tail
Chasing their tail obsessively could be a prominent sign of canine autism
These don’t necessarily be signs of autism, since sometimes it’s just how dogs are. However, if your dog refuses to sway from this routine of mindless, fixated actions, then you definitely should keep an eye on him.

Autistic Dogs Might Have Problems With Social Interaction

We are all aware that dogs are such friendly, outgoing creatures. It’s a joy for them to meet people and other dogs, even animals of different species. But if your dog has serious impairments in how he interacts with others, you need to watch him closely.

It may be over-aggressiveness, or extreme shyness and stress. If you have a puppy, you can train it out of these traits. But in the case of however much you tried, your dog still refuses to act differently, it can be a more serious problem than just social anxiety.

Autistic Dogs Might Lack Emotions And Enthusiasm

It’s just an accepted knowledge that dogs can’t hide any emotion from you. They jump and lick you all over when they’re happy, whine and flop their ears when they’re worried. They can have so much energy to have fun with you all day.
can dogs be autistic
If your dog shows signs of unresponsiveness or lack of emotion, you might want to pay attention
However, if your dog always has a poker face on, doesn’t show any feeling whether it’s joy or pain, then it could be an issue. Another case is that if a dog of a high energy breed shows no enthusiasm in playing or walking, it can be a sign of autism. Try not to mistake it for mere laziness, since these dogs have lots of stamina and need to discharge them daily by nature.

Autistic Dogs Might Be Fixated Or Obsessed With Certain Things

Dogs may show signs of being overly obsessed with certain toys – they won’t give it to you no matter what. Or they might stare at something blankly for a long time, and don’t seem to answer your command. This is a clear sign of compulsive disorder.
However, it might not be just objects they’re fixated with. They could also be obsessed with you – the owner. Normally, dogs already love being together with us all the time. But if they show signs of severe distress when separated, you might want to pay more attention.
dog with toy
Your dog might have autism if it's obsessed with a certain action/object

How Should You Treat Autism In Dogs?

Since the question of “can dogs be autistic” doesn’t have a definite answer yet, there are unfortunately no verified treatment also. You should check with your vet as soon as your dog shows unwanted symptoms. This way, you can manage the behavior in a correct way.
In order to get precise advice on how you may treat your dog, provide the vet with a detailed description of the negative habits. The vet can help you organize a healthy routine to keep your dog distracted from these behaviors and become less anxious.
You can try to figure out what might have triggered the action and start working from there. For example, if your dog has socializing issues when meeting people or other dogs, you can choose a more secluded walking route. Make them feel protected and safe by giving them the environment that minimizes potential triggers.
Identify the triggers to your dog's autistic symptoms and work with your vet

We hope this article helps you get another perspective of canine autism and potentially autistic dogs.

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