Can we learn from human mental disorders to diagnose mental disorders in pets?
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In human medicine, many mental disorders have been described.To learn more about these mental disorders and the working mechanism behind them, many animal models are in use. In most of these models, including rodent models, the disorder has to be simulated. Some of the behaviours of domestic animals seems to resemble mental disorders in humans. This brings up an interesting question. Since there appear to be resembling behavioural patterns in domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, do these animals then maybe also ‘suffer’ from mental disorders comparable to those as seen in humans? In fact, some scientists have argued that we may learn more about the biological basis of mental disorders by using domestic animals with naturally occurring behavioural symptoms as models. To explore the applicability of domestic animals as models for human mental disorders, in this thesis, the following research question will be addressed: ‘‘Can we learn from human mental disorders to diagnose mental disorders in pets?” It is hypothesized that indeed some mental disorders are present in pets and that these mental disorders resemble the corresponding human mental disorder both behaviourally and neurobiologically. Based on literature, there appears to be an animal equivalent of OCD, resembling the human disorder behaviourally and neurologically, but there is no convincing evidence for disorders which are more difficult to diagnose, such as autism, yet.