What You Should Know About Schizophrenia in Dogs

November 14, 2019
Learn more about schizophrenia in dogs and what to watch out for in your pet by reading on.

Have you heard people talk about schizophrenia or other mental disorders in dogs? You may have heard of some canines suddenly starting to behave strangely in certain situations. They may even become aggressive without any apparent reason toward their owners or toward other people or animals around them.

Do you think dogs can suffer from this disorder? Have you wondered why your dog has started to act a bit strangely? This article may help you to address any doubts you might have. Read on to learn more on the topic of schizophrenia in dogs.

Does schizophrenia in dogs really exist?

On more than one occasion, we’ve spoken about human-like mental disorders that animals can also have, such as depression or stress.

Scientists suggest that dogs can suffer from mental illnesses in the same way that humans can. Renowned neurosurgeon Phil Weinstein made an interesting observation on the topic. He said: “The underlying cerebral structures involved in the answers to many different situations aren’t as different in animals as you might think.”

A sad dog.

To make the point clear, the ‘hardware’ in animals’ brains isn’t that different from ours. That’s one reason why animals are capable of developing certain responses to emotions that are similar to human responses. This is the case in very intelligent animals as well as those who aren’t considered as smart.

Schizophrenia, according to the studies made on this mental illness, can affect thinking in complex ways. It was generally thought that schizophrenia only affects humans.

However, the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience” recently published a study on schizophrenia. This study analyzed various genes associated with this mental illness in 45 different types of mammals.

The study demonstrated that animals, including dogs, can suffer from schizophrenia and other types of mental disorders.

How to know if your dog has schizophrenia

Since dogs can’t talk to tell us what they’re feeling or experiencing, schizophrenia can only be diagnosed by monitoring a dog’s behavior. Constant observation of your dog may help you to discover if your pet might be suffering from this illness.

A sudden change in your dog’s behavior may be an indication of this or other mental disorders. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Harming itself. Have you seen your dog suddenly hurting itself? It may do such things as hitting its head or some other part of its body against a wall. If it’s obvious your dog is doing this deliberately, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
  • Aggressiveness. Your pet should appear happy when you’re patting it or when it’s playing with members of your family. But if it seems fine one moment, and then suddenly growls or even tries to bite someone then it may be a possible sign of schizophrenia in dogs.
  • Fights. Has your dog started going looking for fights with other dogs when it’s never done that before? Or what if it even tries to attack your friends or visitors? It could be an indication that something’s wrong inside its head.
  • Barking without reason. What if your dog only used to bark at noises or when someone came to your home, but now it barks all the time and without apparent reason? It may be time to look into it further.

Schizophrenia in dogs: what to do

These are some of the potential signs that indicate that your dog might be suffering from this disorder. But how can you determine for certain if your dog has schizophrenia? You’ll need to take it to the vet.

What’s real and what’s unreal is distinguished only by the heart.

-John Forbes Nash-

A qualified veterinarian can thoroughly examine your pet. He’ll be able to determine what is causing your dog’s odd behavior. Then, depending on the results, he may recommend a certain medication to help with the effects of the disease.

Other mental disorders in dogs

Apart from schizophrenia, canines can suffer from other mental disorders that can cause them to act strangely. Schizophrenia can appear without apparent reason or because of genetics. However, other mental disorders may have root causes that you can address.

A dog behaving strangely while on the leash.

Some examples of treatable mental illnesses in dogs are:

  • Stress. This can be commonly caused by changes in the animal’s routine. Stress can also be provoked if the animal spends too much time on its own or if it’s bored. Having another pet around the house may help with this. You should also give your dog lots of love and affection.
  • Depression. Some causes may be the death of a family member, a divorce, or the death of another pet in the home. Extra attention and care will help to alleviate the symptoms of depression in your pet.