Are there mentally challenged animals? In the wild, you won’t survive if you are mentally challenged. But, it’s different when you have a boss feeding you every day. Have you ever had a random thought of what would it be like if your dog was suffering from a mental illness or what if because of aging it developed age-related mental conditions? Just like human beings, animals react to stress as well, and that is what triggers certain mental illnesses. 

Since most pet parents have no clue about retardness in dogs, they ignore signs of it having some parts of the curiosity still in them. Suspicions of the presence of mental illnesses in their pets happen to stay suspicious only. 

In our article, we will help you get the answer. Can dogs be retarded? Yes, they can. Dogs have a brain, the brain being an organ can open up to abnormalities.

Can Dogs Go Through Mental Disorders?

What is the first image that comes to your mind when speaking of a mentally ill dog? We bet it is an image of an aggressive dog going all out to cause harm to its owner as well as strangers. This may be true when it comes to just a few dogs, not all. But sometimes they just go unnoticed since some mental illnesses can be really obscure. 


But the answer to, can dog be mentally ill? Is a yes and a no as well. Many dog owners rush to their vets in cases where they claim their dog has Down syndrome or is autistic. What people fail to understand miserably is that autism is nothing more than a neurodevelopmental disorder. It’s not a mental handicap. It affects social life. So if you see your dog showing signs of being anti-social it does not mean he or she has autism. 

Some pet parents fail to recognize the symptoms their dogs show calling those symptoms just “changes in behavior”. This is where things get bad.

There are certain individuals that claim dogs can be affected by Down syndrome. They also say that you can spot the physical symptoms of down syndrome in a dog. How? Signs such as a dog born with a flat face, cross-eyed, etc. This condition when it comes to dogs is not scientifically proven.

Complications in Birth

The main and common culprits behind neurological damage in dogs are usually lack of oxygen during the time of birth or difficulties and complications during c-sections. 

It is similar to childbirth. Puppies that happen to get stuck somewhere in the birth canal don’t receive the right amount of oxygen for the right period of time. In situations like these, a puppy can be a retarded puppy. 

Neurological Disorders

Dogs just like us human beings can experience neurological issues like depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. now when it comes to anxiety in dogs, there are two types: noise anxiety and separation anxiety. To know more, visit our article: what should you do if your dog ate melatonin? 

Separation anxiety is the most common one. This happens when the dogs are left home alone all by themselves while their owner is out at work. Alongside anxiety, is depression which is another common neurological issue seen in dogs. 

Depression, anxiety, panic, etc, and other neurological issues can be cured with medication easily. No one wants to see their dog struggling to live a normal life. 

Drastic changes in your dog’s daily life or situations where there happened to be a sudden loss of a family member, changing residences, etc. these situations may lead your pet dog to pick up unusual behaviors. But this does not mean that they are mentally ill.

Neurological Damage

When it comes to neurological damage it is best to understand that even if your dog has completely recovered from any bad incidents that took place earlier, if the brain of your dog has been without oxygen as well as blood supply for a long there are good chances of your dog not being able to be the same as before mentally. 

If your dog has gone through a terrible accident that damaged its head terribly, there may be permanent neurological damage. Even if your dog has eaten something they didn’t have to, especially something that is toxic there can be permanent neurological damage. 

These damages are mostly seen in dogs that have gone through cardiac or respiratory arrests. Dogs that have been brought back just from the edge of death show these damages too. 

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

We, human beings and dogs do share some conditions like dementia while conditions like autism and Down syndrome are not common among us. 

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is often seen in aging dogs and old dogs. Due to age the brain begins to change accordingly and results in consequences like:

What are the common symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome a dog shows? 

They are as follows:

There are symptoms a dog affected by CDS shows which are not instantly identified to be symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. They sometimes mistake these symptoms to be signs of mental illnesses instead. 

When you face situations like this always remember to keep your calm and tell yourself every situation has two sides to it. A good side and a bad side. Now the bad side to the situation might be only that your furry friend is getting old. The good side of the situation will be that cognitive dysfunction syndrome is treatable. It may not have a cure, but through medications, the condition can be bearable. 

Psychological Trauma

There are times when dog owners have no clue about the life of their dogs before they could adopt them into their respective households. This is where retardation wins over psychological trauma. 

Some individuals can be really cold-hearted and treat their pet dogs brutally, by experimenting on them, abusing them, etc. This is what keeps playing on the mind of a dog that has had a traumatic childhood or a traumatic time before you could adopt them and give them all the love they deserve. 

Traumatic childhoods in a dog’s life can lead them to show antisocial behaviors, they may seem to be frightened of everyone else except for the people they spend most of their time with. This does not mean they are mentally challenged. 

Hence, it is more than important to shower your pets with all the love and care possible. It’s nothing like showing love to your dogs will help them overcome their trauma, this happens only in the case of a few dogs, not all. Some dogs may happen to carry the trauma with them all their lives. 

What should you do if your dog is mentally ill?

This problem has a simple solution to it and that is: consult your veterinarian immediately. The moment you see your dog showing signs of anxiety or depression, take your dog to the vet so your dog can be treated accordingly. The same thing applies to dogs that get affected by neurological diseases. Just like when human beings get old and start facing health issues as soon as they reach old age, similarly dogs go through health conditions when they get old. It does not have to mean they are retarded. Just consult your vet immediately in Indian situations.

How to recognize if your dog is retarded?

Now you are aware that dogs most likely won’t be retarded since the unusual behaviors they show can be several other conditions and diseases. 

If your dog does not obey your commands or doesn’t learn them it does not mean your dog is mentally challenged. Ever thought that your dog can be independent or maybe you are not the best trainer? Yes, that could be it too.


Dogs can be retarded as well as cannot be. Like human beings again, dogs too have different personalities, and different IQ levels, always remember this and then jump to the conclusion of calling your dog retarded. All you need to do is learn to understand your dog, and the signs it’s showing instead of misunderstanding them.