What is Autism?
Before we talk about autistic dogs, let us first fully understand the medical condition.
Autism spectrum disorder, a broad term that experts use for describing a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. The characteristics of this medical condition are having a problem with communication and social interactions. People with autism usually demonstrate restricted, stereotyped interests, repetitive behavior patterns.
People across the globe fall prey to this health condition regardless of their race, culture, or economic background. Boys are at more risk than girls to get diagnosed with this medical condition, with a 4 to 1 male-to-female ratio. A study concludes that 1 out of 59 children are known to have autism.
This medical condition is usually diagnosed in childhood with many of the obvious symptoms that children of 2-3 years old have. Some children with autism develop until toddlerhood when they stop acquiring or lose gained skills.
What is the Cause of Autism?
The exact autism cause is not identified. It could occur from problems in parts of the brain that interpret sensory input and process language. Autism is an inherited medical condition, so certain genes may increase the risk of autism in a child.
Can Dogs have Autism?
Thinking can dogs have autism? Because autism is common in dogs, it only makes sense to wonder can dogs be autistic. There has been various research based on the possibility of dogs’ autism since the 1960s. There have been some promising studies in dog autism symptoms. A common symptom of autism in dogs is that dogs tend to chase their tail or spin around.
What Causes Autism in Dogs?
Autism in dogs, or dysfunctional canine behavior, is an idiopathic condition, which means that the cause is unknown. We know that it is a congenital and dogs exhibiting dysfunctional behaviors are born with the condition. Studies suggest that autistic dogs do not have certain types of neurons in their brains. These neurons help the dog to learn and grow.
These neurons are also known as mirror neurons because they assist young dogs or puppies “mirror” older dogs and other canines in learning how to function and behave in a social setting. Without these neurons, a dog cannot develop skills that are essential for creating and developing relationships. As research for autism develops, experts and dog owners also discovered that dogs react and experience the world similarly to people with autism.
Can Dogs have Autism- Diagnosis
A diagnosis of autism in dogs can be difficult because there is not a lot of evidence accessible. To know if your dog has autism, you should look for repetitive behaviors and some degree of impaired social interaction. Of course, your veterinarian should rule out other behavioral and medical conditions before diagnosing your dog with autism.
Veterinarians will do various behavioral tests to see how your dog responds to certain scenarios. You should keep in mind that these tests are not concrete since other disorders such as anxiety may produce symptoms similar to autism. Autism in dogs does not have symptoms similar to humans; veterinarians must rely on behavioral cues that the dog gives and compare them to what is normal for dogs.
Bear in mind that autism symptoms in dogs occur when your dog is a puppy, and it is an inherited disorder. This medical condition is not because of factors such as vaccines or the environment. If you think that your puppy may have autism, you should contact your local veterinarian.
Symptoms of Autism in Dogs
There are some common symptoms of autism in dogs, such as:
Most dogs communicate their moods and feelings, either by wagging their tails when they are happy or as a greeting when you enter through the door. When dogs are reprimanded for inappropriate behavior, they may put their ears back, wiggle their tails, and expose their bellies by rolling on their back.
But a dog with autism may have a hard time expressing these moods and feelings, and their personalities may appear “flat.” In some cases, autistic dogs may enter trance-like states, staring in one direction for a long period, and sometimes autistic dogs will avoid eye contact with humans and other dogs as if they cannot look you in the eye.
Dogs are social animals that would love to play with other dogs, humans, and even cats. If you see that your dog does not want to interact with other dogs and animals, this might cause concern. Other areas of concern will be if your dog doesn’t pay attention to you on walks or during feeding or playtime. Visiting a vet can help you to clear out any queries and questions you may have.
Inappropriate Reactions to Stimuli
Another symptom of an autistic dog is inappropriate reactions to stimuli, for instance, barking or yelping at the slightest touch of your hand. Autistic dogs feel everything differently and are hypersensitive to any type of stimuli. A gentle pat on the head can cause your dog to respond with a reaction of fear, aggression, or pain.
You can also scare autistic dogs with abrupt sounds; this may be because they cannot come with new experiences and new things. Dogs with autism tend to avoid new situations and environments and retreat to a safe and familiar space.
As a dog owner, always remember that if you have an autistic dog, it does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. You can work with your veterinarian on ways to help and minimize these inappropriate reactions.
Many symptoms that have been discussed above can cause your dog to be tired, and dogs with autism prefer to rest in a familiar and comfortable area. They may also show a lack of interest in almost anything around them, and it is a concerning symptom, especially if your dog is a high-energy breed.
Reduced Physical Activity
Autistic dogs prefer to avoid high-energy activity and tend to be quiet, and avoid playing with humans and other dogs. If your dog is acting lazy or tired, it is better to take him to the vet to rule out any other medical health condition.
How to Manage Dogs with Autism?
If your dog has autism, you should work with your veterinarian to determine what causes your dog to act differently. For instance, if your dog is fearful or aggressive while walking in a crowded area with a leash, avoid crowded areas. If your dog is fearful at a dog park, you should not take your dog to crowded dog parks.
You should opt for taking a walk in a quiet place. You can also try some techniques that people use with “special needs” dogs. For example, you can use commercially available wraps for dogs with anxiety that provide reassuring pressure to their body. Train the dog to carry a doggy backpack and fill it with soft weights. These types of approaches are popular to help people with autism.
How to Treat Autism in Dogs?
A licensed veterinarian should diagnose autism in dogs. You should also check medical conditions before looking at any underlying emotional conditions. However, if your dog has autism, there are several types of treatments your veterinarian may suggest.
There is no single autism treatment for dogs in veterinary medicine, but your veterinarian may prescribe certain medications to help suppress symptoms and provide relief for compulsive behaviors. A veterinarian may suggest Fluoxetine for treating autism problems in people and OCD, and other medicines that also help to calm your dog and curb aggressive behaviors may also be recommended.
Also Read: Know The Reason Behind Your Dog Sneezing
Recommends Safe and Secure Space
It is essential to provide a safe place for dogs with autism because autistic dogs are afraid of almost anything. Suppose your dog is nervous or anxious in crowds or around other dogs or animals. To help them out, you can offer your dog a safe and secure place to go, such as a dog bed or dog-kennel.
Regular and consistent exercise can reduce anxiety and stress and help keep your dog busy and add a welcome distraction from compulsive behaviors.
Curious about can dogs have autism? The article gives an in depth answer to the query can dogs have autism. If your pet dog shows any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Going to the vet can help your dog get a proper diagnosis and action course if your dog has autism.
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