Can Dogs Have Autism? Promising Ways to Tackle Canine Autism

dogs autism

Autism is a complex and lifelong developmental disorder that generally begins in early childhood and may affect the social skills, speech, relationships, and self-regulation of an individual. If you are concerned about your dog’s mental health and are curious if dogs can have autism, you’ve landed on the right page.

So, Can Dogs Have Autism?

Yes, dogs can have autism. Like humans, autism has been linked to canines, but it hasn’t yet been proven. A study of autism in dogs which has been going on since 1966 indicated that autism could very well occur in dogs but not with the same clinical aspects as in humans. So, the term “canine dysfunctional behavior” is more relevant than autism.

What Is Canine Dysfunctional Behavior?

dog autism
Photo credit: Rover

Even though dogs exhibit similar signs and symptoms as humans on the autism spectrum, most vets prefer not to call this medical condition as canine autism. They prefer this condition to be called canine dysfunctional behavior. This medical condition is very rare in puppies and dogs. A dog with canine dysfunction syndrome is believed to be idiopathic and unsociable. In general, this condition in dogs is what is informally known as canine autism.


How to Know if Your Dog Has Autism?

Autism diagnosis in dogs
Photo Credit: Animal Health Foundation

Commonly, puppies with canine autism show little interest in interacting with their parents, siblings, and even their owners. They do not show interest in entertainment and their appetite. Some of the other behaviors you need to watch out are:

  • Dogs with canine autism tend to avoid any new experience or situation, immediately retreating to a place where they feel secure.
  • They have very little interactions with other dogs and people, which means they have little or no interest in daily activities like playing, feeding, and socializing.
  • They often appear to be blanked-out, staring at the floor,  or wall. The dogs with canine autism tend to be motionless and lethargic more often whereas dogs with canine ADHD tend to be hyper.
  • They have a flat personality meaning that they cannot communicate normal feelings such as curiosity, joy, stress, or anger. It is believed that dogs bond through eye contact, but these dogs lack eye contact, even with their owners.
  • Like autistic children, they link physical and sensorial stimuli to wrong emotions which make them react in different ways. For example, they respond as if they were hurt by just a gentle touch of their owners.

How Can Dogs Have Autism?

can dogs have autism
Photo Credit: Touchpoint solutions

Scientists believe that canine autism is caused by the underdeveloped brain circuits and the other over-developed sensory circuits. According to vets, the lack of mirroring neurons in the dog’s brain causes canine autism. Mirroring neurons reflect the behavior of others teaching the animals how to behave. Some vets also theorize the condition can be inherited from parents but is not necessarily hereditary. It is believed that if the parents received unnecessary vaccinations or were exposed to toxins, their off-springs become autistic. However, it has not been proven yet.

No matter what the causes are, for now, it seems like genes play a vital role in canine autism, which you cannot control.

Your Dog Has Canine Autism. Here’s What You Can Do

Caring Dog
Photo Credit: Aging Care

While autism is not a condition that can be cured, you can still adjust your lifestyle and put some measures to accommodate your dog’s inability. With proper care, your dog can live a happy and prosperous life.  You want your dog to be healthy and happy, don’t you?

Here are some of the things you can do if your dog has autism:

  • Medication: Some medicine will decrease the severity of autistic syndrome but will not get rid of it. Fluoxetine is a great choice for the management of OCD, autism, and aggression in dogs.
  • You have to control your lifestyle and their environment to make it as stress-free as possible. For that, you can provide your dog with a safe and secure home.
  • Cutting down stress is the key. If your dog becomes upset while visiting a vet because of unfamiliar faces, you can ask for a home visit to relieve their stress.
  • Many dogs with canine autism do not like to be petted. People around them should keep that in mind and avoid petting them.
  • Every dog with autism has something that they find alarming and those things trigger their anxiety as well as autistic syndromes. By eliminating these objects, you can make their lives much more comfortable.
  • Setting up a routine is a great idea. Your dog will be happy with a secure and stable lifestyle. With everyday exercise and a balanced diet, your pooch will do just fine.
  • Seeking for an expert’s advice is always the best option. Try to find a vet with experience in managing autism in dogs. They will guide you as a source of information and provide ‘special needs’ for your dog if your dog ever needs one. Special needs may differ from dog to dog and cannot exactly be generalized.
  • Local therapies and treatment may be the right choice too. However, keep in mind that autism cannot be ‘cured.’
  • Autism is not a deadly disease and will not kill your dog. Your dog can still lead a happy life. So staying optimistic is one of the greatest things you can do.
  • Furthermore, prevent your furry friend from getting depressed. You can read our article on how to handle canine depression here.


Autism is not a fatal condition. Yet, it cannot be cured. Even if your dog is diagnosed with canine autism, you can still have a lovely and healthy dog that can be your favorite companion and give you a happy life ahead. The sooner you rule out the medical conditions and cope with it, the easier it is for you and your dog.

To know more about your dog’s health, please check our website.

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