Genes involved in dog OCD identified

Dogs with OCD chew their feet, chase their tails or suck on blankets with extreme, often detrimental attention. A genome analysis suggests that four genes involved in the communication between brain cells may play a role in triggering the behavior.

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Humans aren’t the only ones to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Dogs can suffer from the disorder as well, with particular breeds compulsively chewing their feet, chasing their tails or sucking blankets.

Now scientists say they have identified several of the genes that trigger the behavior in Doberman pinschers, bullterriers, sheepdogs and German shepherds. Four genes, CDH2, CTNNA2, ATXN1 and PGCP, involved in the communication between brain cells appear to play a role in dog OCD, researchers report February 16 in Genome Biology. The results could be used to better understand the disorder in people.

photo of Ashley Yeager

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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