Autism has become more and more recognized and diagnosed all over the world. Proper studies and research have given us the information we need to understand autism a little bit more. While we know so much about autism in people, many dog owners also wonder — Can dogs be autistic?
By researching autism more over the years, scientists have started to wonder if autism is strictly connected to humans, or if animals can have it to.
What is autism?
Before we can explain if dogs can have autism or not, lets first define what autism is in the first place.
According to WebMD, an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is categorized by two main criteria: social communication challenges and restricted, repetitive behaviors.
However, many people diagnosed with autism also have some sensory issues. These make them especially sensitive to light, sounds or touch.
To be diagnose someone with autism, a child must have persistent symptoms within these categories that affect their daily life.
Just like the name suggests, there is a whole spectrum of autism. That basically means that people diagnosed with autism can have symptoms of varying degrees.
Over the years we have learned that autism is much more common than previously believed. About 1 in 59 children has autism.
Can dogs be autistic?
Now it’s time to jump into the question this article is actually about — Can dogs have autism?
While we already learned that autism is fairly common in humans, it would only make sense that your canine companions can be on the autistic spectrum as well.
So yes, theoretically speaking — your dog can have some symptoms of autism. However, research suggests that autism spectrum disorder isn’t an official diagnose in dogs.
The possibility of autism in dogs is in exploration since the 1960s. We must note that the studies weren’t as detailed and well funded as the ones for humans. Therefore no definitive evidence has been found proving that dogs indeed can have autism.
However that does not mean that we can’t find any symptoms of autism in our dogs. So if you notice any type of behaviors in your dog that make you wonder if your dog has autism — don’t simply ignore them.
Unfortunately, we still have to wait to learn more about the possibility of dogs being on the autistic spectrum. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ant ways to help.
If you notice some symptoms from the categories we previously described over a prolonged period of time — maybe the idea of your dog having autism is worth exploding.
What are dog autism symptoms?
While there isn’t a way to officially diagnose your dog with autism, there are certain types of behaviors that could point to an autism-like condition in dogs.
The symptoms of this condition include:
- Repetitive behaviors (such as tail chasing or constant walking in circles)
- Distress at breaking normal routines
- Hard time adapting to new situations
- Sensitivity to light, touch or sounds
- Social anxietyor strange social behaviors
How to diagnose autism in dogs?
If you notice some of these symptoms in your dog, scheduled a visit with your vet. Dog’s can be definitively diagnosed with autism, and therefore there also isn’t a simple “dog autism test”.
You can ask your vet for some insight to understand better what your dog is going through. Your vet can also help you to find ways to manage all of those symptoms that are keeping your dog from living his best life.
There isn’t a cure to magically “fix” your dog and help him stop with whatever behaviors he is having a hard time with. However there are ways to help your dog cope with whatever he is struggling with.
For example, if your dog has issues with repetitive behaviors, your vet can help you come up with strategies to redirect his behavior. If your dog has a hard time socializing, you might want to do some separate training to help his anxiety or aggressive behavior.
Understanding your dog and his specific condition is the only way to truly get an idea of how you can help him.
Not being neurotypical isn’t something scary or something to be ashamed of. It’s much more common than many people think and you can manage it with certain lifestyles changes.