Many people enjoy watching YouTube videos of dogs and cats chasing their tails and laughing at how silly they look. However, what many people may not realize is that sometimes those silly videos are actually showing pets with potential behavioral disorders. The pets in the videos may be engaging in compulsive (repetitive) behavior without what appears to be a specific goal or purpose. However, while to the untrained eye the animal may appear to have a lack of purpose, there may be one in that animal’s mind.
This is a type of OCD behavior that can affect both humans and pets. Humans diagnosed with obsessive compulsive behavior may wash their hands so often that their hands are chapped or bleeding or check all the locks on their doors and windows repeatedly. They appear to be unable to stop their own behaviors and report that they constantly think about performing these activities. In veterinary medicine, we have no way of knowing if an animal is actually thinking about doing those repetitive behaviors so we do not call it an obsessive compulsive disorder but rather a compulsive disorder.
First, Rule Out Medical Problems
Why do animals engage in this behavior? First and foremost, you need to consult your veterinarian to rule out medical causes of any sudden, unusual or repetitive behavior. For example, neurological problems can cause circling and what appears to be tail chasing, while flea infestations or skin or inhalant allergies can cause excessive itching, licking or other problems. Dogs that chase lights, shadows or imaginary objects may need to have their vision evaluated by a veterinary ophthalmologist and to be checked by a veterinary neurologist for possible seizure disorders. Other types of diagnostic testing may be required.
Read more: care2.com