Dobermans with CCD, humans with OCD share similar brain abnormalities

Doberman pinschers afflicted with canine compulsive disorder (CCD) display similar underlying structural brain abnormalities as people who have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to research recently published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry.

Discovering this similarity between CCD and OCD potentially opens the door for finding better treatments for dogs and humans who are affected by the conditions, Tufts University reported.

The research comes from a joint effort between veterinarians at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and researchers at the McLean Imaging Center at Mclean Hospital located in Belmont, Mass.

During the study, researchers examined MRI images from 16 Dobermans - eight dogs with CCD and eight without. According to Tufts University, the CCD group "had higher total brain and gray matter volumes, lower gray matter densities in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and right anterior insula, and higher fractional anisotropy in the splenium of the corpus callosum (the degree of which correlated with the severity of the behavioral traits." The brain abnormalities are in line with those seen in humans who have OCD, researchers concluded.

Observing the physical abnormalities may eventually lead to better treatments to help dogs that are prone to compulsive behaviors such as tail chasing, chewing, and pacing, said Niwako Ogata, BVSc, PhD, who was a behavior researcher at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and is currently an assistant professor of animal behavior at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

"Canines that misbehave are often labeled as 'bad dogs' but it is important to detect and show the biological basis for certain behaviors," Ogata said. "Evidence-based science is a much better approach to understanding a dog's behavior."