skeeze (CC0), Pixabay

You may have noticed that dogs and humans sometimes display similar mental and behavioural disorders. If you have asked yourself why your dog seems stressed or hyperactive, then this new study may help. The similarity between dogs and humans was recently analysed and confirmed in a research project conducted at University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Research Programs Unit, Molecular Neurology.

Psychiatric disorders in humans as well as disorders in dogs are major welfare problems affecting millions of people and dogs worldwide. However, until now the reasons have been unclear and even ignored . The causes are definitively complex and many factors are involved. This justified a more comprehensive academic study of the molecular mechanisms that may contribute.

Increased Levels of Glutamine

The study focused especially on trying to gain new information concerning the causes of fearfulness and hyperactivity/impulsivity in pet dogs. Two different dog populations were studied and compared. The results showed clear differences in the blood metabolic profiles of fearful and non-fearful control dogs, including increased plasma glutamine abundance in fearful dogs. These alterations potentially originate from the systemic effects of chronic psychological stress. Some stressed dog became excessive fearful, others become hyperactive.

Interestingly, hyperactive/impulsive dogs manifest inappropriate levels of activity, impulsivity and lack of attention, corresponding to attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in humans. In hyperactive and impulsive dogs the study found that the non-targeted plasma metabolomics showed lower levels of plasma phospholipids in addition to altered tryptophan metabolism. These changes may reflect disturbances in the gut microbiota composition in affected dogs. That microbes in the intestines of humans are related to brain activity has been studied independently and the current study indicates that humans and dogs share this connection at the biological level.

More studies are needed, but this study already offers new ways to treat hyperactive and excessively fearful dogs. The study will ultimately help also humans and is therefore just another example of how much we and our dogs have in common.


Read the full research report: