Can Dogs Be Bipolar?

Technically dogs can exhibit symptoms similar to what we humans call bipolar disorder. Theoretically, as a mammal, dogs have brains that react to serotonin levels similar to the way a human brain does. However, it is important to note that since learned behaviors can contribute to aggression problems in dogs, there have been a lot of mixed opinions from experts on how to diagnose and treat a dog that exhibits unpredictable mood swings.

Bipolar Behavior In Dogs

It is quite common for dog owners to report that their dog has suddenly become aggressive. Usually these dogs will appear to have a glazed over expression and are typically unresponsive to commands. Even more strange is the fact that sometimes they seem to stop the aggressive behavior almost as suddenly as they start it.

Experts have come up with a name for this type of behavior and have coined it with the term canine rage syndrome. There is still much to learn about this condition. Certain breeds are more susceptible to this type of behavior, cocker spaniels being a common case.

Differing Opinions And Research

Although the sudden onset of aggressive behavior without obvious provocation seems to correlate with a bipolar brain condition, other dog experts think that canine rage syndrome is could be nothing more than an extreme form of dominance or fear aggression –learned or bred for behaviors. These experts also claim that the dog’s only hope of being restored to a trustworthy pet is to work alongside experienced trainers or behaviorists.

More recent studies of dogs exhibiting symptoms of canine rage syndrome have found that there may in fact be some sort of brain disorder involved. In some cases dogs have been found to have a seizure disorder and in other cases, suffering from a low level of serotonin.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, veterinarians, animal behaviorists and other animal experts all seem to disagree on the cause and treatment for unpredictably aggressive dogs. The most common solution in the past was to restrict the dog or have it euthanized. However it has recently been discovered that up to 50% of dogs that suffer from canine rage syndrome respond positively to a combination of drugs and behavioral therapy. It is important to remember however, that a dog that has demonstrated extreme aggressiveness in the past is always capable of reverting back to this type of behavior. It is for this reason that pet owners must watch their dog closely and discusses matters with their veterinarian to decide what the best treatment method is.

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