Mental Illness in Pets | Keoki's Corner

Keoki's Corner

Mental Illness in Pets

Did you know that pets can suffer from mental illness like humans?  Pets can suffer from a multitude of mental illnesses that include anxiety, phobias, dementia, and obsessive compulsions.   Have you ever watched those videos of cats and dogs doing silly things like continually walking in circles, biting at invisible flies, or obsessive grooming?  These are just some of the manifestations of mental illness in animals.  Some owners use laser pointers to play with their dogs.  In some cases this has caused dogs to become afraid of light reflections or shadows.  Many owners don’t realize that many behaviors they think are “normal” for their pets are actually signs of mental illness.

Laura Braitman, science historian and writer, holds a PhD from MIT in history and anthropology of science.  She has done extensive research on non-human animals that show signs of mental illness. In her recent book, Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves, she discusses the many issues animals can have mentally and emotionally.

The TEDTalk video below presented by Dr. Braitman highlights some of the manifestations of mental illness in animals and what we can learn from these behaviors and how we can relate them to human mental illness.


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posted in:  Medical Problems