Hyperactivity in Dogs

Debra F. Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB Veterinary Behavior Consultations, St. Louis, Missouri

Occasionally owners of very active dogs come to my office convinced that their dogs are hyperactive and have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. Do these conditions really exist in dogs?

Hyperactivity is “a rare clinical syndrome characterized by overactivity, attention deficits, impulsivity, high resting basal physiologic parameters and a paradoxical calming response to amphetamines.1 Labeling these dogs as “hyperkinetic” may be clearer; they do not habituate to normal stimuli, are reactive, and cannot seem to rest even in calm, quiet surroundings. Within veterinary practice, the condition appears to be rather rare. The signs noted by owners are usually attributable to breed dispositions, conditioned behavior, or lack of appropriate outlets for activity and exercise.

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