A group of researchers decided to study the blood count of hyperactive dogs. The evidences confirmed similar results to previous studies done on ADHD patients. The most common concerns in dogs are general fearfulness, sensitivity to noise and hyperactivity. If left unmanaged, this can have negative impacts on both the dog and its owner.
Professor Hannes Lohi's research group from the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Centre investigated on the physilogical make up of impulsive dogs- specifically their blood count. The group performed their investigation in partnership with the LC-MS Metabolomics Centre of Biocentre Kuopio (University of Eastern Finland). The results confirm the presence of metabolites of phospholipids and particularly tryptophan. The blood profile of these aggressive dogs differ significantly from the blood counts of dogs in control. Similar results have been observed in patients with ADHD. The study was published September 29, 2016 in the Behavioral and Brain Functions journal.
"Behaviour and behavioural disorders often develop as a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, which makes studying them challenging. Metabolomics, or the study of the metabolism, provides us with new clues on the biological issues underpinning behavioural disorders while promoting genetic research. At the moment, metabolomics research in dogs is rare, and the purpose of this pilot study was to examine new approaches and attain information on any metabolic abnormalities associated with hyperactivity in dogs," Professor Lohi explained.
Abnormal Metabolic Blood Tests Cause Hyperactivity
The study determined the blood metabolites in impulsive and normal German Shepherds. The results reveal a link between their hyperactivity and decreased levels of phospholipids in the blood.
"We knew to expect this discovery from research on the human side, as several studies have recorded lower blood lipid and fatty acid levels in ADHD patients than in control groups. However, the causal relationship is not clear and requires further studies, particularly ones with more extensive research data. Our discovery supports the existing belief that human and canine diseases are similar, which suggests dogs can serve as excellent models for human illnesses," according to doctoral student Jenni Puurunen.
"It is significant that the dog's age, sex or fasting had little impact on the link between behaviour and metabolites. We also controlled for dietary changes by feeding all dogs the same food for two weeks before testing," explains Puurunen.
Intestinal Health And Its Effect On Dog's Behavior
Another important information revealed in the study was the negative correlation between hyperactivity and the tryptophan metabolites. Tryptophan is a vital amino acid. Tryptophan metabolites are solely produced when intestinal bacteria processes the tryptophan from the food. This information confirmed the differences in the bacteria found in the gut of hyperactive and normally behaved dogs. This discovery finds further significance in the links found between the brain and the intestines a few years back.
A Globally Unique Metabolomics Project Is Underway
Lohi's team released an article regarding the study of metabolomics of fearful dogs earlier this year. The article confirmed the differences of blood counts between dogs who are generally fearful and the fearless ones. A more extensive research is still necessary to confirm the pilot-stage findings. The group of researchers already released a collection of test samples to assess the metabolomics technology in partnership with the company Genoscoper. The system us aimed at providing an effective tool to manage and speed up genetic research, specifically, the ones concerning behavioral studies.
The research group performs the study as as part of a more detailed canine behavior project. Its goal is to identify hereditary and environmental factors that affect behavior. They are also seeking to determine metabolic changes that affect behavioral disorders and be able to find parallelisms to human diseases and their management as well.