Dogs chasing their own tails could be a sign of OCD and not a fun game, say researchers
According to an article at the Daily Telegraph, if your dog chases his tail it could be a symptom of mental illness.
Tail chasing could be a sign of behavioral and learning problems, obsessive compulsive disorder or attention deficit disorder.
Other symptoms may include random barking at inanimate objects, chasing lights and compulsive pacing. Mental illness is not uncommon in dogs, and is usually triggered by environmental stimuli.
The University of Kelsinki and The Folkhälsan Research Center using 368 dogs from four different breeds found that, as with humans, compulsive behaviour in dogs is related to an increased risk of developing other compulsions, increased sex hormone levels, upbringing and genetics.
Sometimes, however, it may be difficult to diagnose triggers or there may be none at all. A veterinarians specializing in canine behavior may be able to properly diagnose behavioral problems in adult dogs and puppies.
“Stereotypic behaviour occurs in dogs spontaneously; they share the same environment with humans, and as large animals are physiologically close to humans,” said canine genomics expert Hannes Lohi, who led the study. “Furthermore, their strict breed structure aids the identification of genes.”
“Interestingly, there are indications that vitamins and minerals have beneficial effects also in human OCD treatment,” the study which was published July 26 in PLoS ONE said.
Compulsive behaviors are those that are repeative and unnecessary. Some dogs may simply be playful and young puppies are curious enough to entertain themselves. Only when this behavior is noticeably odd should the pet owner be concerned.
“In conclusion,” states the paper, “the early-onset and the variable nature of the repetitive behaviour, which is affected by environmental factors such as micronutrients, neutering and maternal care, share several similar components between canine and human compulsions and supports canine TC [tail-chasing] as a model for human OCD.”