Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Urinary neurotransmitter analysis and canine behavior assessment

Behavioral problems are highly prevalent in domestic dogs, negatively affecting the quality of life of dogs and their owners. In humans and dogs, neuropsychological or neurobehavioral disorders can be associated with deviations in various neurotransmitter systems. Previous evidence has revealed correlations between urinary neurotransmitters and various behavioral disorders; however, a causal relationship has not yet been conclusively demonstrated. Non-invasive urinary neurotransmitter analysis may identify specific biomarkers, which enable a more differentiated assessment of canine behavioral disorders in the future and contribute to more effective neuromodulatory treatment decisions and monitoring. This approach could offer new insights into underlying pathomechanisms of canine neurobehavioral disorders. This study assessed urinary neurotransmitter levels and the descriptive behavior profile of 100 dogs using established rating scales (Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale, Dog Personality Questionnaire, Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating Scale), and explored relationships between these variables. No correlation was found between urinary neurotransmitters and the assessed behavior profiles; however, age-, sex- and neuter-related influences were identified. The lack of correlation could be explained by the many confounding factors influencing both behavior and urinary neurotransmitter excretion, including age, sex and neuter status effects, and methodological issues e.g., low discriminatory power between anxiety and aggression in the descriptive behavior evaluation. Urinary neurotransmitter testing could not be validated as a tool for canine behavior evaluation in this study. However, reliable assessment methods with low susceptibility to human biases could be valuable in the future to support behavioral-phenotype diagnoses.

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