Are Dogs Retarded? Symptoms and Treatments For Mentally Challenged Dog

Are Dogs Retarded

Here’s a breakdown of mental health in dogs, focusing on what owners need to know:

Can Dogs Have Mental Health Issues?

  • YES. While we use different terms than with humans (not usually “retarded), dogs can experience:
    • Anxiety Disorders
    • Depression
    • Compulsions (like obsessive tail-chasing)
    • Cognitive decline in old age (similar to dementia)


  • Genetics: Some breeds are more prone to anxiety.
  • Trauma: Abuse, neglect, accidents can all leave lasting emotional scars.
  • Medical: Illness, brain injury, or even chemical imbalances can affect the dog’s mind.

Symptoms to Watch For

  • Change in Behavior: Lethargy, aggression, restlessness that’s out of character.
  • Loss of Learned Skills: Forgetting potty training, commands, etc.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: Excessive licking, pacing, barking for no reason.
  • Difficulty Focusing: Seems distracted, doesn’t respond like they used to.
  • Fearfulness or Apathy: Hiding, loss of interest in things they used to love.

Important Notes:

  • “Retarded” is an outdated and insensitive term. Think “mentally challenged” or “special needs” instead.
  • Physical problems can mimic mental ones. Rule out illness with a vet FIRST.
  • Don’t expect your dog to just “snap out of it”. Mental health needs care, just like our own.

What to Do if You Suspect a Problem

  1. Vet Visit: This is essential to rule out physical causes, and to discuss medication if needed.
  2. Behaviorist: A specialist can help pinpoint the problem and create a training/management plan.
  3. Be Patient: Progress can be slow. Your dog needs love and support, even on bad days.

Key Takeaways

  • Dog mental health is REAL, and ignoring problems isn’t fair to your dog.
  • Early intervention works best. Don’t get discouraged if you see warning signs.
  • You are NOT alone. Vets, trainers, and online communities can offer support.
  • A mentally challenged dog can still live a happy life with the right care.

Can Dogs Be Mentally Challenged Or Retarded?

If you are thinking of whether can dogs be retarded then Yes dogs can be retarded. Dogs are intuitive, intelligent, and emotionally strong animals. Even though you are used to seeing them happy and carefree, it is possible that a dog who seems happy can develop a mental disorder.

Just like humans, dogs are emotional living beings and for various reasons, dogs can face mental challenges that can affect their mental health.

Mental retardation is a brain disorders that prevent the brain from functioning properly. The result is not only a problem with brain function but also with behavior and other bodily functions. There is much evidence that dogs can also be affected by certain mental disorders.

Dogs with mental disorders can show signs like behavioral issues, not responding to commands, being unable to do their daily activities, etc. Even though they are mentally challenged they can learn skills but it will take much more time than a healthy dog.

What Are The Types Of Mental Disorders Your Dog Can Suffer?

Just like human beings, your dog can suffer from a serious mental disorder. Often dog owners treat their dog’s anxiety issues as innocent acts or quirks as long as their dog is not harming others.

But what you do not understand is that your dog’s mental disorder can have way more detrimental and long-lasting effects on your dog. The more anxious and fearful your dog behaves around unknown people or other animals, the shorter they live healthily.

So, you must pay attention to your dog’s mental health by knowing the different types of mental disorders that your dog may suffer from. Here, I am discussing a few common mental disorders that dogs often suffer from. Let’s have a look at my breakdown of the common mental health issues of your dog.

Separation Anxiety

One of the most common mental health conditions your dog may suffer from is separation anxiety. This one is among the common ones because most people are busy nowadays with their work life. As a result, most dog owners can’t spend much time with their precious four-legged baby and leave their pet with no other option than suffering from separation anxiety.

Even I couldn’t spend much time with my dog which led my dog to suffer from separation anxiety. But now I have found a solution for this. I prefer leaving my dog at a dog center near my home whenever I go to work. This allows my dog to spend with other dogs and does not suffer from separation anxiety anymore.

OCD Or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Your dog may seriously suffer from OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This is a behavioral and mental disorder where your dog will have intrusive thoughts. As a result, your dog will perform certain things repeatedly so that he can relieve the distress produced by the obsession.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is often also referred to as CCD or Canine Compulsive Disorder. Your dog’s OCD or CCD may include signs such as tail chasing, Chasing shadows, incessant licking, biting invisible items, spinning for no apparent reason, barking looking at the wall, etc. In doing these things, your dog may hurt himself but won’t stop doing the practice.

So, if you notice any sign of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in your dog, you need to consult the vet as soon as possible to take proper action against your dog’s strange behavior.

PTSD Or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

This disorder is caused due to trauma, abuse, or ignorance in your dog. But how would you know if your dog is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or not? Well, to understand this, you can pay attention to your dog’s behavior.

If your dog is showing symptoms such as aggression, chronic anxiety, difficulty in falling asleep, noise sensitivity, sensitivity to light, etc. then these are indications of post-traumatic stress disorder in your dog.

To deal with post-traumatic stress disorder in your dog, you must consult the vet as soon as possible. Only a professional can understand the root cause of your dog’s behavior and also can guide you on the right path to treat your dog to bring him to normal condition.


Yes, that is true, just like human beings, a dog can suffer from depression issues. Although dogs can’t express themselves like human beings they show signs of depression through their behavioral changes.

These signs may include a sadder appearance, more lethargic than before, or anything else. Also, if your dog is depressed then he will play less than usual, eat less than usual, and even appear to be unusually withdrawn.

Your dog may suffer from depression due to the struggle to fit in your house which is a completely new place for him. Or maybe your dog is going through some discomfort or pain in your house. No matter what the cause is, you can’t understand the root cause. That is why, it is better if you consult your vet for a quicker solution.

Specific Phobias

This can be a phobia of loud noise or anything else. Any kind of phobia is truly an anxiety disorder. This disorder is generally characterized by an unreasonable yet extremely irrational fear of a particular situation, object, or concept. Whenever your dog faces an object, concept, or situation, it shows uncontrollable behavioral issues.

For example, my dog had noise anxiety. As a result, my dog used to show signs like separation anxiety or social anxiety. But the question is how can you distinguish between separation or social anxiety and specific phobia like noise phobia?

Well, if your dog is suffering from noise phobia then you will notice sudden changes in your dog’s behavior during fireworks, thunderstorms, or any other noises.


It is a mental condition that generally results in hardship in deciding what’s real and what’s not. People with Psychosis often show signs of hallucinations and delusion. However, these conditions are treatable.

It is quite difficult for a general dog owner to know if their dog is suffering from Psychosis or not. So, it is better to take your dog to the vet for inspection. Whenever you notice unexplainable behavioral changes in your dog, take him to the vet quickly to find out what is wrong with him.

With quick treatment, you can cure your dog’s mental issues. So, never neglect your dog’s slightest behavioral change in the future. I always pay close attention to my dog’s behavioral changes and suggest my readers do the same.

Fear or Anxiety Disorder

Extreme phobias or fears in your dog may make him suffer from anxiety disorders. This may happen due to over-stimulation, improper socialization, or abuses your dog had to face before. All these things will trigger your dog and make him anxious.

You can try counter-conditioning to reduce your dog’s phobias and fears that cause anxiety disorder in your dog. However, if you are not sure about the method of counter-conditioning, you can seek help from your vet. Your vet will guide you to reduce your dog’s phobias and fears.

What Are The Symptoms Mentally Disabled or Retarded Dogs Have?

The symptoms of mental illness are the most important. Dogs can’t tell you if they’re feeling sad, anxious, or having mood swings but if your dog is mentally challenged then it will show you some signs. A retarded dog will display behavioral symptoms that will help you to identify if your dog is mentally challenged. These symptoms are…

Inability to Learn:

We all teach our dogs some basic skills like potty training, familiarizing them with their name, playing with saucers, and some tricks. If your dog can not learn basic skills or takes too much time to learn it might be possible that your dog is retarded.

Your Dog Is Inactive:

Some dog breeds could become couch potatoes if left alone. Dogs can become lazier and lose interest in activities they once did. It is a sign of depression that can be an early sign that your dog can be mentally challenged. If you see your dog has become too lazy and does not show any interest in daily activities then you should take your dog to a veterinarian to check its mental health.

Your Dogs Do Not Communicate:

Dogs communicate with other dogs and humans using vocalizations as well as non-verbal body signals that mean the dog is comfortable. Dogs can show their happiness by displaying a happy smile, relaxed ears, and wagging their tails. If your dog is unable to communicate with you it could indicate that he has a mental illness.

Change In Appetite:

Most dogs have a healthy appetite and love to eat. Dogs with mental disorders may eat too much or too little.  If you notice your dog no longer likes to eat food or refuses to eat your treats it can be an early sign of a developing mental disorder to the dog. A loss of appetite does not necessarily indicate a mental disorder but if your dog seems to be losing interest in eating or losing weight, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Your Dog Faces Loss Of Memory:

Losing memory is one of the signs that your dog is mentally challenged. It is said that a dog remembers everything but if you see your dog can not remember its family member or forget to eat food or you find them confused it could indicate a mental illness.

Your Dog Doesn’t Pay Attention:

If you see your dog do not pay attention to anything then it might be a reason that your dog is developing mental disorders.

Developing Unusual Behavior:

One of the most common signs that your dog develops is unusual behavior. A mentally retarded dog always behaves differently and is unusual like excessively barking, aggressive behavior, or chewing on things.

What Causes Mental Disorders In Dogs?

Most often, a mentally retarded dog is a dog that suffers from a particular condition, disease, or trauma resulting mental disorder. So, let’s know

Psychological Trauma:

Dog owners sometimes don’t know what happened to their dog before adoption and mistakenly believe that their dog was diagnosed with psychological trauma. Dogs can be mistreated or abused before being sold or given up. They may not be able to overcome their fears and emotional scars if they are adopted back. This could lead them to mental disorders.

Birth Complications:

As with births, some dogs may have problems at birth that cause lifelong problems. If a puppy has gotten stuck in the birth canal or is not getting enough oxygen can develop mental illness.

Neurological Damage:

Neurological damage causes a dog to have a mental illness. If your dog faced any accident or head injury, that can cause the dog brain injury that leads the dog to retardation.

Consuming Toxic Substances:

Many times dogs consume toxic substances or eat foods that contain toxic substances. This can lead the dog to brain damage and develop mental disorder.


After serious illness, infection, or other trauma, a dog’s brain can be damaged. Viral infections such as parvovirus, adenovirus, and rabies can cause mental disorders in dogs.


Q. What To Do If Your Dog is Retarded?

If you see the early signs do not wait and see, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The veterinarian will recommend medication and lifestyle that can be helpful to your dog.

Q. How To Take Care Of Retarded Dogs?

Don’t panic if your dog is diagnosed with a mental disorder. Your pet deserves your love, support, and attention. Make sure your dog takes all his medications on time. Go for a walk if they like it. Make sure they get enough exercise and are well-fed.


A dog is the trusted companion of a human being. They accompany you when you are sad, depressed, or something going wrong. So, if you find out your dog is facing a mental disorder do not abandon them. Treat them with love care and joy.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at

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