It can be challenging for veterinarians to diagnose obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs (OCD), because there is no one test for the condition. Diagnosing OCD involves ruling out other conditions, including diseases and other medical disorders that could contribute to the observed obsessive behaviors.
For a veterinarian to diagnose OCD, he must evaluate the dog and rule out other conditions that could contribute to or cause the abnormal behaviors. The veterinarian will take a detailed history of the dog’s actions and living environment, and he will ask for details of the repetitive behaviors to help determine which tests should be run to rule out other contributory conditions. Thorough physical and behavioral examinations typically will be made. The physical examination will probably include drawing blood samples for a complete blood count and serum biochemistry profile, as well as urine samples for a urinalysis, to get a baseline snapshot of the dog’s overall health. The behavioral examination can be quite involved and will depend upon the experience and training of the veterinarian or veterinary behavioral therapist and the symptoms presented by the dog.
Depending upon the particular dog’s clinical signs, the veterinarian may perform tests for dermatological diseases, external parasites, neurological diseases, major organ system dysfunctions, urinary track infections, metabolic diseases and/or other conditions that could be causing the dog’s abnormal behavior. Once other diseases and underlying medical problems have been ruled out, the veterinarian may recommend that the owner videotape her dog’s compulsive conduct. Behaviors at home that are unusually excessive in frequency, intensity or duration – especially those that interfere with normal daily routines - are easiest to identify using videotapes, which in turn makes them all that much easier to treat.
Diagnosing obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs can only be accomplished by a process of elimination. It usually takes a great deal of time and patience on the part of everyone involved in the process to arrive at a definitive diagnosis and implement a meaningful treatment plan.