Yes, our furry pals can have ADHD, just like our kids. And, just like our kids, just because our dogs are hyper does NOT necessarily mean they have Canine ADHD. Some dogs are simply more hyper than others. Only a vet can say for sure.
Canine attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as “a condition wherein a dog shows symptoms of ‘a constant activity, being easily distracted, impulsiveness, inability to concentrate, aggressiveness and similar behaviors.’” Perhaps you’ve noticed your dog is all over you a bit too enthusiastically as soon as you arrive home. Maybe you’re having a difficult time walking your dog because he’s constantly barking at random things and running about. Granted, dogs are active by nature, but canine ADHD, although uncommon, is a real condition.
There are several factors that contribute to hyperactivity in our canine companions. A physical issue is one. Your dog could be having vision or hearing problems, which affect his usually sharp senses. Since your dog couldn’t be sure of what he sees or hears, he gets antsy and all over the place. If your furry friend is fine in the health department, it could be the hyperactivity is just ingrained in him. Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities. Note that the presence of canine ADHD is never normal. Still, some dogs are simply hyperactive by nature.
Aside from physiological factors, another thing that could cause dogs to have ADHD is the environment. Dogs who spend a large chunk of the day cooped up inside a room or cage are more likely to be hyperactive than their “running wild and free” counterparts. Your dog may be free but due to the lack of space still cannot move about freely. The lack of a regular exercise routine also contributes to the problems. Being naturally energetic creatures, dogs need to release all that pent-up energy, and what better way to do it than by exercising daily? This helps reduce the chances of canine ADHD.
You’ll know your dog has ADHD if he suddenly becomes restless and anxious for no reason. Here are other signs to watch out for:
Walking in circles
Chasing his own tail
Barking at nothing
If your dog exhibits these red-flag behaviors, schedule an appointment with the veterinarian right away.
There is no fixed or instant treatment for ADHD in dogs. Your vet may prescribe medications, like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, to combat the hyperactivity. Canine ADHD, though, can be managed without resorting to drugs. Help your dog release his pent-up energy by establishing a regular exercise routine. Run, bike, or rollerblade with your dog, anything to get him up and moving. If you have to leave your dog alone for most of the day, make sure he has plenty of toys and things around him to get him busy and moving.
Ignore your dog’s negative behavior, but reward the positive ones. If he gets too enthusiastic in greeting you, don’t pay attention to him until he settles down. Once he does, pat him and give him a treat. Show your dog that you’re having none of his hyperactive behavior.
You can also manage canine ADHD by keeping an eye on your dog’s diet. Ask your vet for the best food to give your dog, and stay away from food that contain high sugar levels.