Compulsive tail-chasing linked to high cholesterol

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Jul 23, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

While watching a puppy run after its tail in vain can be entertaining, if the futile chase continues past puppyhood or becomes an obsession, it may be a sign of trouble. A team of veterinarians recently took blood samples from 15 otherwise healthy tail-chasing dogs and 15 control dogs. The results, published in the March issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice, found the tail-chasers had significantly higher HDL and LDL levels, known in people as good and bad cholesterol.

The theory—which coincides with human studies—is that high cholesterol affects the flow of hormones, such as serotonin, that are involved in one’s mood and behavior, making one more prone to obsessive behaviors. High cholesterol in dogs doesn't always lead to clogged arteries as it does in people, said Lisa Peterson, Director of Communication for the American Kennel Club in an interview with Discovery News. But, like in people, a lower-fat diet for dogs could be helpful, particularly in reducing the tail-chasing symptoms. Peterson said she doubts high cholesterol in dogs is a result of overeating protein, fat, or ash since pet foods meet governmental regulations.