A Tale Of Doggie Disorders

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Joe Jurevicius talks with reporters during Super Bowl XL Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit on Jan. 31, 2006.
Alzheimer's disease isn't the only case of a human brain disorder that has an echo in the dog world.

Dogs that rampage and whine when their owners leave them get diagnosed with separation anxiety and dosed with canine anti-anxiety drugs. Dogs that scratch or lick their skin raw take a drug prescribed for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Veterinarians also recognize a canine disorder similar to attention deficit disorder, and, yes, they treat it with Ritalin, the drug widely prescribed for hyperactive children. So-called hyper-kinetic pets "are very rare dogs," veterinarian Lynn Johnson emphasizes.

During her two years of residency in veterinary behavioral medicine at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine in College Station, she has diagnosed the disorder only once, in a female terrier.

At 18-months old, the dog showed no signs of losing her rambunctious puppy ways. Her longest naps lasted 15 minutes. She raced around the house and leaped over furniture, so much so that her owners took to keeping her on a leash indoors.

They couldn't leave her alone outside because of her barking and digging. During an entire two-hour session at the clinic, "she just never sat down," Johnson remembers.

Dogs who romp too much are a common story. "The majority are just overactive dogs who are not getting enough exercise," Johnson says.