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Could Your Pet Have Animal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

obsessive-compulsiveIt seems as though everywhere you look, there’s a new pill for this or a new label for that. Studies show that people have more worries and experience related issues, such as lack of sleep, anxiety and panic attacks, as a result. Our pets are very in-tune with our emotions. They know if we are upset and they feel it when we are happy. It’s no wonder that many pets that are close to their humans, such as dogs, cats, horses, pigs and exotic birds, are all known to display obsessive compulsive behaviors.

The most common types of animal obsessive compulsive disorder seen in dogs include tail chasing and obsessive licking. With cats, it is usually excessive grooming or pica. The cycle for animal obsessive compulsive behavior is similar to what is seen by psychologists in humans. It begins with anxiety, which leads to a display of repetitive behavior, which becomes a compulsion, something that is difficult to control. The behavior acts as a sort of temporary relief in the beginning, but becomes an obsession, which ultimately increases the anxiety. The cycle repeats again and again, causing stress to both human and animal.

Canine Obsessive Behaviors
The obsessive licking behavior seen in dogs will often reach such a point of compulsion that it results in what is known as ALD or acral lick dermatitis. This is commonly referred to as a lick granuloma, which can be very dangerous for your pet. The underlying cause of the behavior must be diagnosed by a professional veterinarian to ensure effective treatment of the problem.

Your dog should be tested at your local animal hospital in Dartmouth, to ensure that nothing else is at work, such as an infection, allergies, joint disease or other associated ailments. The wound must be treated as well, ensuring that infection and increase damage does not occur.

The obsessive tail chasing behavior seen in dogs my seem funny at first to humans. However, it may be an early sign of something serious. Veterinarian researchers are not sure why dogs chase their own tail, however some studies have revealed a link between high cholesterol and the behavior. It may also be an increase in hormonal activity, which can boost the “fight or flight” response in canines, according to some research.

If you are concerned about your dog’s tail chasing behavior or any other type of obsessive compulsive behavior, speak with your local Massachusetts veterinarian and see about bringing your pet in for a check-up. It will be much easier for you and your dog if you start corrective therapy and training as early as possible.

Feline Obsessive Behaviors
The obsessive grooming behavior seen in many cats can ultimately result in hair loss and baldness, due to the excessive grooming of both the skin and the hair. Psychogenic alopecia, which is the official diagnosis in veterinarian medicine, occurs when normal grooming becomes obsessive. It usually starts off as a way to relieve stress and can increase to include biting, chewing and ulcerations.

If your cat is grooming excessively, bring her into Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth to make sure the grooming isn’t due to itching, pain, neurological disorders, fleas or other parasites. The veterinary staff can diagnose your cat’s condition and recommend a treatment that will address both the underlying cause and the painful results.

The pica behavior, which is commonly known as “wool sucking”, is a condition where the affected patient, in this case a cat, eats non-food substances obsessively. This can be very dangerous, as the cat might accidentally eat something toxic or could suffer from choking or internal injuries if the item becomes lodged within their system.

If you notice your cat eating non-food items, such as socks, blankets, clothing, grocery bags, kitty litter or anything else unusual, call your veterinarian right away. Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth can help you identify the underlying cause of you cat’s unusual obsessive behavior and give you ideas and treatments that can help.

Signs and Symptoms
Studies have shown that animals that suffer from obsessive behaviors, including cats, dogs and other domesticated pets, are often more “high strung” or anxious than other animals. Pets that are easy-going will rarely display obsessive behaviors and many studies are now showing that this anxious, high strung nature may be inherited.

However, many professional veterinarians believe that these behaviors are more likely a combination of nature versus nurture, revealing an animal’s reaction to its environment and situation as being just as important as any inherited tendencies. A stress-free environment has been shown to reduce compulsive behaviors, helping corrective training, therapies and pharmaceutical treatments be even more beneficial.

Why Are We Seeing More Animal Behavior Issues?
Researchers believe that while pet owners do all they can to provide a comfortable, safe and pampered lifestyle for their cats and dogs, some animals suffer because they aren’t able to live the way nature intended. Cats are natural hunters, climbers and jumpers. Dogs would be extremely active, mimicking pack and territorial behaviors like wolves, if they were in the wild. The steps we take as pet owners to protect them and treat them like members of our family can leave some animals feeling bored, depressed and anxious.

Speak with your local Massachusetts veterinarian at Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth about ways that you can add more activity and excitement into your pet’s daily life that will allow them to live a happy and healthy life. Proper nutrition, regular activity, annual veterinarian check-ups, dental care, proper grooming and daily human interaction will go a long way toward preventing, addressing and curing feline and canine obsessive behaviors.

Give Anchor Animal Hospital a call today at 508-996-3731 to set up an appointment for your furry friend. The doctors and veterinary staff there can help you get on the right path for proper pet care that will give you many happy and healthy years with your four-legged family members!