The dictionary defines psychosis as:
“…a mental disorder characterised by symptoms, corresponding to delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality.”
Psychologists and psychiatrists may argue indefinitely as to where to attract the road between neurotic and psychotic behaviors, and it’s little doubt difficult to discern symptomatic differences at that common junction; but, when one focuses upon the surface extremes of every condition, the differences turn into obvious, even in dogs.
A neurotic dog may exhibit chronic anxiety, fear, hyperactivity, obsessive behavior, and inappropriate responses to stimuli. Truly psychotic dogs, nonetheless, are deranged. Their behavior is acute and unpredictable. It ranges the spectrum from manic highs to deep depression, and tends to be dangerous and destructive to the dog in addition to to other animals and humans with which the dog comes into contact.
A lot of these behavioral characteristics are sometimes exhibited by non-psychotic dogs which are “having a nasty day.” Others could also be troubled by some distressing ailment that’s temporarily affecting their behavior. When the distress is gone, the behavior returns to normal. The difference between these dogs and the truly psychotic animals is that the psychotic animals appear to be completely unaware of the character of their destructive behavior. The psychotic dog will not be misbehaving; it is just not capable of control its actions.
Dogs affected by psychosis often have periods of intense violent rage for no apparent reason. They injure themselves, attack inanimate objects, and attack anyone unlucky enough to be of their aggressive path. They often don’t reply to outside stimuli. Their moods quickly change from manic to depressive. Some psychotic dogs won’t eat to the extent that they’ll actually die of starvation.
A dog’s erratic behavior more more likely to be diagnosed as psychotic if a number of of the next conditions are present within the dog’s history: an accidental overdose of medicine, extensive corticosteroid drug therapy, distemper before three months of age, a serious parasitic infection before six months of age, diabetes, a history of severe beatings, an injury to the spine or the pinnacle, and extreme psychological trauma.
The pattern of the occurrences of psychosis in dogs fairly well parallels the occurrence of psychotic disease in humans. Some dogs have a genetic condition that reveals itself with destructive behavior early in life. Others lead normal lives until, at a certain age, serious psychotic behavior is exhibited.
The mental health of dogs is of interest and concern to veterinarians. Some focus on the evaluation and treatment of those mental diseases, but psychosis in dogs doesn’t benefit from the same level of scientific research that’s invested in studying human psychiatric problems. Most owners, while willing to speculate considerable sums of cash to treat physical ailments with the proven hope of a cure, should not willing to incur similar costs to speculatively treat their dog’s mental disease. Truly psychotic humans receive skilled psychiatric care, in a secure residential facility if vital. Dogs that exhibit serious psychotic behavior are euthanized.