Can Dogs Have Autism? Spotting Autism Symptoms in Dogs in Sewell, NJ

When we think of autism, we typically associate it with humans. However, did you know that dogs can also exhibit behaviors similar to autism? While in the veterinary world, this condition is referred to as “canine dysfunctional behavior,” it shares many similarities with autism in humans. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about autism in dogs so you can provide the necessary help for your furry friend in Sewell, NJ.

Understanding Autism

Autism is a neurological condition that affects humans, causing difficulties in social situations, communication issues, and repetitive behaviors. People with autism may struggle with processing emotions and non-verbal cues. Similarly, dogs can also display similar behaviors, although veterinarians refer to it as “canine dysfunctional behavior.”

The Causes of Autism in Dogs

The exact cause of autism in dogs, or canine dysfunctional behavior, remains unknown. However, studies suggest that it is a congenital condition, meaning dogs are born with it. Research indicates that dogs with this condition lack certain mirror neurons in their brains, which are crucial for learning social norms. These mirror neurons help young dogs “mirror” older dogs and learn how to function socially. Without them, dogs may struggle to develop the skills needed for building social relationships.

Recent studies have also observed autism-like symptoms in dogs. In one study conducted by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB), researchers found a possible link between tail-chasing behavior in Bull Terriers and autism. Although not definitive, the study suggested that tail chasing could be a form of autism in dogs.

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Diagnosing Autism in Dogs

Diagnosing autism in dogs can be challenging due to a lack of concrete evidence. However, there are certain behavioral cues to look out for. Dogs with autism typically exhibit repetitive behaviors and impaired social interaction with both dogs and humans. It is important to rule out other medical and behavioral conditions before reaching a diagnosis of autism. Consulting with your local veterinarian is essential if you suspect your puppy or young dog may have autism.

Symptoms of Canine Dysfunctional Behavior

Here are some common symptoms of autism in dogs that you may notice in your dog in Sewell, NJ:

Antisocial Behaviors

If your dog shows reluctance to interact with other dogs and animals, it may be a cause for concern. Additionally, if your dog doesn’t pay attention to you during walks, feeding, or playtime, it’s worth discussing with your veterinarian.

Communication Issues

Dogs usually communicate their moods through tail wagging and body language. However, dogs with autism may struggle to express themselves, leading to flat personalities or trance-like states. They may avoid direct eye contact and appear unable to understand non-verbal cues.

Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors

Repetitive motions, such as circling a room, chronic tail-chasing, or obsessive chewing, are common in dogs with autism.

Inappropriate Reactions to Stimuli

Autistic dogs often have hyper-sensitivity to stimuli and react inappropriately, such as yelping or barking at the slightest touch. They may also avoid new environments and situations, seeking refuge in familiar spaces.


Autistic dogs may appear tired and lethargic due to other symptoms. They prefer resting in a familiar area instead of engaging in high-energy activities.

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Reduced Physical Activity

Autistic dogs tend to avoid playing with humans and other dogs, leading to reduced physical activity. If you notice your dog behaving lethargically, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

Managing Autism in Dogs

If your dog has been diagnosed with autism, you can work with your veterinarian to identify triggers that may cause behavioral flare-ups. For example, if your dog becomes fearful or aggressive in crowded places, try to avoid such environments. Taking quiet walks in peaceful areas can be a better option.

Additionally, techniques used with “special needs” dogs, such as using wraps or doggy backpacks, can provide reassurance and help minimize anxiety. Regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, and positive reinforcement from a skilled trainer or therapist specializing in behavioral issues can also be beneficial.

Treatment for Autism in Dogs

Treatment for autism in dogs focuses on managing symptoms rather than a cure. Your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help alleviate compulsive behaviors and provide relief. Creating a safe and stress-free environment for your dog is crucial, along with regular exercise and a balanced diet. Positive reinforcement training techniques can also be valuable in managing dogs with autistic behaviors.

Recognizing Signs of Autism in Dogs in Sewell, NJ

If you suspect that your dog may be showing signs of autism or if you’re unsure, it’s important to reach out to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and guidance. Remember, having a dog with autism doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. With the right support and care, you can help your furry friend live a happy and fulfilling life.

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