The dictionary describes psychosis as:
“… a mental disorder characterized by symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations that indicate a disruption to reality.”
Psychologists and psychiatrists can argue indefinitely where to draw the line between neurotic and psychotic behavior, and it is of course difficult to see the symptomatic differences at that common junction; however, when the focus is on the extremes of each condition, the differences become apparent even in dogs.
A neurotic dog may exhibit chronic anxiety, fear, hyperactivity, obsessive behavior, and an inadequate response to stimuli. But in reality, psychic dogs are unhappy. Their behavior is acute and unpredictable. It ranges from manic heights to deep depression and is dangerous and destructive to the dog, as well as other animals and people the dog comes in contact with.
Many of these behaviors are sometimes exhibited by non-psychotic dogs that have a “bad day.” Others may be concerned about some anxiety that temporarily affects their behavior. When suffering ceases, behavior normalizes. The difference between these dogs and truly psychotic animals is that psychotic animals seem to be completely unaware of the nature of their destructive behavior. Psychotic dog misbehaving; she simply has no control over her actions.
Dogs suffering from psychosis often experience intense violence for no apparent reason. They injure themselves, attack inanimate objects and attack anyone who is miserable to be on their aggressive path. They often do not respond to external stimuli. Their moods quickly change from manic to depressed. Some psychotic dogs will not eat as much as they will actually starve to death.
A dog’s maladaptive behavior can be diagnosed as psychotic if one or more of the following conditions are present in the dog’s history: accidental drug overdose, extensive corticosteroid therapy, sinking before the age of three months, severe parasitic infection six years ago. months old, diabetes mellitus, pre-existing severe bruises, spinal or head injury and major psychological trauma.
The pattern of occurrence of canine psychosis in dogs coincides quite well with the occurrence of psychotic illness in humans. Some dogs have a genetic condition that manifests itself in destructive behavior at an early age. Others live a normal life until serious psychotic behavior occurs at a certain age.
The mental health of dogs is of interest and concern to veterinarians. Some professionals evaluate and treat these mental illnesses, but canine psychoses are not subject to the same research as human psychiatric problems. While many owners want to invest significant sums in the treatment of physical ailments, once proven to be cured, they do not want to incur similar costs to speculatively treat their dog’s mental illness. Truly psychotic people are provided with professional psychiatric care, if necessary, in a safe place to live. Dogs that exhibit serious psychotic behavior are wiped out.