Some dogs show behaviors that are very similar to ADHD in humans, according to a study published this month in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The study, which followed hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention in more than 10,000 dogs, gives hope for better treatments for both species, the authors said.
The research team, based in Helinsky, Finland, looked at more than 11,000 dogs of different breeds, asking owners questions about behavior based on ADHD research in humans.
Hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention have been found to be more common in young dogs and male dogs, which coincides with the observed demographics of ADHD in humans, the authors said.
The study also found that dogs that were left alone at home every day were more hyperactive, impulsive and inattentive than dogs that spent more time with their owners or were not alone. In dogs, ADHD-like traits can manifest as an inability to calm down, inattention, and constant barking or whining, the authors said.
“Dogs have many similarities with humans, including physiological characteristics and the same environment,” said researcher Sini Sulkama in a press release. “In addition, ADHD-like behavior occurs naturally in dogs.”
They also found that the breed of dog plays a significant role in whether it will develop behavioral traits similar to ADHD.
Breeds bred for work, such as the German Shepherd and the Border Collie, had higher ADHD-like behaviors, the team found. On the other hand, breeds that were popular for display or as pets, such as the Chihuahua, the Long-haired Collie, and the Poodle, were calmer and had less propensity for impulsivity.
The researchers also said they found a link between ADHD-like behavior and obsessive-compulsive behavior, aggression and fear. Obsessive-compulsive behavior in dogs includes chasing after a tail, constantly licking surfaces or oneself, or staring at “nothing”, the study states. People with ADHD are more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, the statement said.
“The findings suggest that the same brain regions and neurobiological pathways regulate activity, impulsivity and concentration in both humans and dogs,” Sulkama said. “This reinforces the promise that dogs show as an exemplary species in the study of ADHD.”
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