Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Study: Aggressive Dogs May Be Depressed

Updated: Monday, 19 Jul 2010, 12:52 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 19 Jul 2010, 12:37 PM EDT

(CANVAS STAFF REPORTS)- Canine aggression is the most common behavioral problem that veterinarians see and now new research is finding that the aggressive behavior may be the result of depression, The Telegraphreported Sunday.

Researchers for the study, reported in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science , found that dogs who exhibited aggressive behavior had low levels of the "feel good" hormone serotonin in their bodies. This is also the case in people that are depressed and anxious.

According to The Telegraph , researchers from Zaragoza University in Spain took blood samples from 80 dogs that had been taken to a veterinarian for behavioral problems. These blood samples were then tested against samples taken from dogs that had normal behavior.

The journal reported that the non-aggressive dogs had 387.4 components of concentrated serotonin compared to only 278.5 for the aggressive dogs, with the lowest levels being in dogs that showed a defensive type of aggression.

Researchers of the study hope that these new findings will help in discovering new ways to treat aggression in dogs.

The spokesman for the British Small Animals Veterinary Association, Mark Johnston, told The Telegraph , "The ability to identify dogs with lower levels of serotonin may help in identifying those dogs who could benefit from the use of pharmacology."

TheDogBowl.com suggests some other ways to deal with a dog's depression before using medication. They say enrolling your pet in doggie day care can help ease separation anxiety as well as giving the dog extra attention by walking him or running him more.

Clomipramine is a medication on the market that has been approved for the use in dogs, according to the websitePetPlace.com . It's a prescription drug that is used along with behavior medication exercises to help dogs suffering from depression.

It is highly recommended to talk to a veterinarian before administering any medication to an animal.

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