Can Dogs Be Autistic? Common Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments Explained

Autism can be a difficult condition to live with. It can affect anyone, regardless of their age or intelligence level. But can dogs suffer from autism? There is still no conclusive evidence that they can, but there are some behaviors that are similar and many people who believe they have seen signs in their dog. In this article we will discuss whether dogs can be autistic or not and what the symptoms might look like in your pup so you can get treatment as soon as possible!

What is Autism? Do dogs develop Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that restricts social interactions and may lead to self-harm. The causes of autism are unknown, but it’s been found that autistic people often have symptoms in common with other childhood disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Autism is not curable, but there are treatments available to help those who suffer from this condition manage their symptoms.

Now coming to the next part of the question, “Can dogs be Autistic?”.

It turns out that there are some striking similarities between the symptoms of autism in humans and those found in dogs. Dogs may display repetitive behaviors such as spinning, licking their paws excessively or barking at nothing. They might also have trouble with social interactions and being around other animals. The connection between dog behavior and human behavior has led to research into whether or not dogs can develop autism-like symptoms like sensory sensitivities, anxiety disorders or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). 

A veterinarian at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine states that “There are some similarities between canine anxiety and autism in humans; however most of these are due to fear or lack of training rather than an actual medical condition”. 

Reasons of Autism in dogs

In dogs, Autism lacks certain mirror neurons in their brains which help dogs learn.

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way the brain is wired. Though it does have a genetic basis, autism appears to be triggered by a variety of factors and cannot yet be pinpointed or completely explained by genetics alone. Symptoms range from mild social awkwardness to severe mental retardation and nonverbal butchers or self-injurious behaviors like head banging. There are many medical roots for this condition – phosphorus imbalance, impaired bowel function, mitochondrial dysfunction and more but one possibility has emerged as the most promising after recent research. A lack of certain mirror neurons in the dog’s brain that helps them learn about others through their behavior in response to other people and their environment.

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Dogs can have a variety of behavioral issues. Some dogs may be experiencing anxiety, fear or even autism.

Now we will discuss 3 reasons for the behavior in dogs and what you should do about it. 

1. Your dog is not getting enough mental stimulation

Dogs need to constantly engage their minds with new things like puzzles and games to keep them engaged with the world around them. A lack of mental stimulation can lead to boredom which often leads to destructive behaviors such as chewing on furniture, carpets or doors. To combat this issue, find new ways for your dog to enjoy themselves by playing fun games and giving them plenty of attention when they’re being good so that they know they’re doing something right!

2. Lack of exercise

Dogs can also suffer from anxiety and depression. It can be hard to find a balance between too much exercise or not enough. Too much can lead to physical problems such as weight gain, muscle strains and joint pain which can all cause behavioral issues. Not getting enough can lead to a lack of mental stimulation, causing the same problems that are listed in number one. To help with this, get your dog out for plenty of walks or try running alongside them on a bike!

3. Dogs can’t tell the difference between an object and a person

Tricks like “sit” can be hard for some dogs to learn because they can only focus on one task at once. This can cause them to have trouble interacting with people or other animals, leading to fear of men, women and children that may even lead to aggression as they can’t tell the difference between a person and an object. To help with this, try teaching your dog to recognize objects that it can play with instead of ones they can chew on or bark at like shoes or newspapers!

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Some other causes of Canine Dysfunctional Behavior may also include:- 

  • DNA mutation in the mother before birth or during pregnancy that can lead to inherited issues in offspring (about half of all cases).
  • Trauma from accidents or child abuse can also lead to canines exhibiting autistic symptoms.
  • Exposure before birth or during early childhood development can lead to neurological damage that can result in autism spectrum disorder.
  • Dogs can be diagnosed with a form of canine Dementia and this leads them to exhibit behaviors similar to those found on the autism spectrum.

Remember that canines can’t be diagnosed as autistic by themselves so the best thing to do is consult a professional veterinarian if you suspect any symptoms in your pup.

Symptoms of Autism in dogs

The symptoms can vary from one animal to another, but they can be generally categorized into three groups: behavioral, physical and cognitive-behavioral.

Some common behaviors you may notice in your pup are excessive licking or spinning, not responding appropriately when being called by name, not playing with other animals, and excessive barking or growling.

Physical symptoms can range from decreased bowel movements to changes in skin texture. Finally, cognitive-behavioral issues can include self-injurious behaviors such as head banging when they are frustrated or anxious – an act called “self-stimulation”.

Dogs can also have sensory sensitivities, anxiety disorders or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which can affect their behavior.

Treatment of Canine Dysfunctional Behavior

There are treatments available to help those who suffer from autism manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. Dog owners can work on training strategies, behavioral modification plans that will decrease anxious behaviors in dogs. They can also make sure their dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. There are many different ways to help with the symptoms of autism in dogs, but there is no cure for this disorder.

You may find that your dog has certain repetitive behaviors or displays of anxiety or aggression as well as unusual reactions to sounds and other stimuli. In severe cases, a treatment called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) may be recommended by your veterinarian in order to help manage symptoms of autism in dogs.

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There are many different ways that vets can diagnose and treat canine autism, but there is no cure for this condition. The most common method of treatment for this disorder is the use of behavior modification drugs or medications to help with stress management and anxiety.

One drug that has been shown to be effective in treating both human and dog patients suffering from Autism is Clonazepam, which also goes by the trade name Klonopin.

This medication comes in pill form and works by reducing anxiety levels as well as decreasing obsessive behaviors such as spinning around on a spot or barking excessively at other animals or objects outside your home. However, if you would like to explore more options for the treatment of canines with autism, it is worth your while to consult a veterinarian for their advice and expertise.

Disclaimer: Don’t use any medications or pills without your Vet’s permission. The above mentioned information are for educational purposes only.


It’s important to note that autism is not just in humans. There are many dogs out there who may be experiencing the same symptoms of Autism and have been diagnosed with it. However, if you think your dog has any of these signs or you don’t know for sure, please contact your veterinarian today so they can give a proper diagnosis and course of action.

They will also make recommendations on how to treat them while going through this process as well as after their diagnosis is made clear. These things could include therapy sessions, medications like Prozac or Valium (both common treatments for people), dietary changes such as removing gluten from food sources, adding supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids into their diet and more!

Photo of author

Immad Amir

Immad has a black Labrador who is his first child. With no prior experience of how to take care of his pooch, Immad started researching about what dogs love to eat. This blog is a journal of all the research Immad has done regarding a pet's diet.
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