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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Can dogs have autism?

I am interested in people's thoughts on autism in dogs.

I have a 14-year-old collie bitch who over her lifetime has exhibited some very autistic type tendencies.

Julie Smith, via Facebook


  1. I have 3 dogs the eldest is almost 9 and the others are 5 and almost 1 year. I also have two children one of whom has autistic tendancies and the other is autistic.

    My oldest dog shows autistic tendencies. She likes to sit in the same place every day, if she doesnt she gets stressed. On walks she likes to go the same way and the same place, if she doesnt she isnt too happy.

    I have always said that I have an autistic dog

  2. What does your collie do? I think on of my Weimaraners is autistic!
    He doesn't like any kind of affection unless it's on his terms and he asks for it, doesn't like being cuddled. He doesn't like change - even going down a different path on a walk he will sometimes refuse to budge until I go the usual way. He won't get in the car if it's not his usual walk time, gets stressed on long journeys because he doesn't know where he's going.
    He doesn't like being handled, doesn't like wearing anything, even a collar and will run upstairs when he sees it.

  3. I have a Kelpie cross collie(6) who I am convinced has autism. He presents as a very confused and unhappy chap although has no reason to be so. We have had him since 8 mths and have done agility work with him. When he is "working" he seems normal but when he isn't he can't assimulate to us his fellow canines or life in general. He has NEVER looked directly at me or licked me or come to sit with me and seems constantly at odds with his whole existence. I would be happy to have this explored.

  4. Absolutely, even my vet thinks my dog is on the autistic spectrum!!

  5. I've wondered the same about my dog, since reading an article by Angela Stockdale, a trainer/behaviourist and dog aggression specialist. Its the second article down if you check this link:

  6. Could it be related to a cognitive impairment related to ageing?

  7. Speaking as an Aspie (Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder), a dog owner and pet professional I'd be inclined to think yes they can be on the Spectrum!
    Dogs share similar brain opiates and hormones to us, why shouldn't they suffer with similar neurological disorders too?
    It could be anthropomorphism (using human emotions and ideals to explain behaviour), it could be cognitive dysfunction, it could be simply the dogs own personal preference to behave the way they do.
    A great question and would make a great subject for my thesis!

    Good luck with your dogs :)

  8. Hi all,

    I work for a company called Nupafeed who sell supplements for horses and dogs. The main product that we sell is a special magnesium compound, MAH (available as Stress-Less for your dog). MAH was developed for human medicine where is has numerous uses. Primary of these are stress, anxiety and behavioural problems, and indeed pretty much any illness you can think of that can be linked to stress.

    Having worked here now for four years I have read countless numbers of published articles relating to magnesium, and the positive benefits really are incredible. These are not results published by manufacturers, but genuine studies conducted for the advancement of human medicine.

    It is well known that diet plays an important role in behaviour. Magnesium is the most important nutrient for the management of stress as well as having numerous other roles related to energy metabolism and regulation of electrolytes. Stress increases the amount of magnesium you need, as do diets high in fat and/or calcium. If any animal is not getting enough magnesium they will become hypersensitive, more susceptible to stress, less able to settle and often either nervous or aggressive. It is unsurprising therefore that magnesium is often used with behavioural and anxiety disorders.

    Magnesium is often given with Vitamin B6 to patients suffering from Autism, in this instance the magnesium is used to promote the bioavailability of Vitamin B6 but Mousain-Bosc et al. (2006) found that magnesium is effective in its own right, and identified half of their subjects as having low intracellular magnesium levels. They postulate that an impairment of a magnesium channel in the cell membrane could be responsible for cases of Autism and similar disorders due to the resultant hypomagnesia (too little magnesium) and secondary hypocalcemia (too little calcium as a result of too little magnesium because magnesium is needed for the proper use and regulation of calcium).

    Starobrat-Hermelin (1998) studied deficiencies in hyperactive children with ADHD, he found that mineral deficiencies of magnesium, copper, zinc, calcium and iron were all more common than in healthy children, and of these, magnesium was by far the most common and marked deficiency appearing in 110 of the 116 children studied. From a group of 75 children with ADHD and magnesium deficiency, the author treated 50 children with magnesium over a 6 month period, and retained 25 children as controls. In the treatment group there was a clear increase in not only magnesium, but also zinc and calcium levels in the body (magnesium aids the absorption and utilization of certain nutrients) and a significant decrease in hyperactivity. The study concludes that magnesium supplementation is of vital importance to ADHD children irrespective of the nature of other coexisting mental disorders, and should also be considered with any child at risk of educational, emotional or social problems.

    Magnesium is also used for seizure disorders, being particularly helpful with adolescent epilepsy, and also more muscular based problems such as cramping and restless leg syndrome. This is indicative of just how important magnesium is to the body for maintaining normal control mechanisms.

    So if you have a dog that suffers from any stress related issue I’d really recommend Nupafeed Stress-Less. It is pharmaceutically developed and contains absolutely no other ingredients, just this special MAH magnesium compound - this means that there are no sedatives in there at all, and no side effects.

    More here: