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Compulsive disorder is characterized by a repetitious, relatively unchanging sequence of activities or movements that has no obvious purpose or function. Although the behavior is usually derived from normal maintenance behaviors (such as grooming, eating, and walking), the repetitive behavior interferes with normal behavioral functioning. It is referred to as “OCD” or “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”
The most commonly observed obsessive-compulsive behaviors are spinning, tail chasing, self-mutilation, hallucinating (fly biting), circling, fence running, hair/air biting, pica (appetite for non-food substances such as dirt, rocks or feces), pacing, staring, and vocalizing. Some dogs also show the potential for aggression.
No breed, gender or age of dog is more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorders, although the specific type of OCD displayed may be affected by breed, such as spinning as opposed to self-mutilation. As with other anxiety disorders, onset of OCD begins early, around 12 to 24 months of age, as the dog developmentally matures (generally defined as occurring at 12 to 36 months of age in dogs). If you are observing early signs of obsessive behavior in your dog, and it is descended from a line where other dogs are affected, early intervention is critical.
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, including a background history of symptoms, any information you have about your dog's familial line, and possible incidents that might have precipitated the behavior. Your veterinarian will order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis in order to rule out underlying physical causes or disease.
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