Dogs and humans appear to have similar brain abnormalities associated with compulsive disorders, providing evidence that pooches and people may be more closely tied than previously thought.

The study was carried out by veterinarians at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and a team at the McLean Imaging Center at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, in the US.

Through the use of magnetic resonance imaging, the scientists were able to identify the difference in brain patterns between dogs with canine compulsive disorder (CCD) and healthy pooches.

Eight of the 16 Doberman pinschers involved in the research had CCD and displayed similar brain patterns as humans with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), suggesting the signs of the condition are similar in both canines and humans.

Professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Nicholas Dodman, said that while the study sample was small and further research was required, the results validate that dogs with CCD can provide insight into anxiety disorders that affect people.

He added: "Dogs exhibit the same behavioural characteristics, respond to the same medication, have a genetic basis to the disorder, and we now know have the same structural brain abnormalities as people with OCD."

It is important for pet owners to understand their pooches can suffer with compulsive disorders, which can include spinning, tail chasing, licking, barking and light chasing, among other activities.

Causes of the condition can include a lack of socialising with other dogs and people, long separation from a companion and frequently being tied up or forced to live in small spaces.

Indeed, medical reasons could be causing a dog to behave compulsively so it is important to seek the advice of a veterinarian if doubt ever arises over a pooch's repetitive actions.

Written by: Hannah