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Do Dogs Develop ADHD?

2021 12 22 083407A new study suggests that dogs indeed can develop ADHD as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Research conducted in Helsinki, Finland, finds that, “The domestic dog can spontaneously manifest high hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention which are components of human ADHD. Therefore, a better understanding of demographic, environmental and behavioral factors influencing canine hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention could benefit both humans and dogs.”

In a press release, the study’s lead author and head of canine research, Professor Hannes Lohi said, “Our findings can help to better identify, understand and treat canine hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Moreover, they indicated similarity with human ADHD, consolidating the role of dogs in ADHD-related research.”

“Dogs share many similarities with humans, including physiological traits and the same environment. In addition, ADHD-like behavior naturally occurs in dogs. This makes dogs an interesting model for investigating ADHD in humans,” adds doctoral researcher Sini Sulkama.

The study indicates that dogs at home alone are often more at risk. Roughly over 11,000 dog owners completed an extensive behavioral survey. Lohi’s team used questions and assessments similar to those used to determine human ADHD and its characteristics. The survey results indicated that puppies and male dogs are more prone to ADHD-like behavior. However, it is interesting to note that the owner’s behavior can influence their animals behavior. For example, dogs that are home alone for long periods during the day, those that don’t get enough attention, or simply don’t get enough exercise show more behavioral changes.

“We found that hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention were more common in young dogs and male dogs. Corresponding observations relating to age and gender in connection with ADHD have been made in humans too,” Dr. Jenni Puurunen reports.

“As social animals, dogs can get frustrated and stressed when they are alone, which can be released as hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. It may be that dogs who spend longer periods in solitude also get less exercise and attention from their owners,” Sulkama says.

“People may pick as their first dog a less active individual that better matches the idea of a pet dog, whereas more active and challenging dogs can be chosen after gaining more experience with dogs,” Sulkama explains. 

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