A One Health Approach to Neurodiversity and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in People and Dogs: Implications for Research, Treatments, and Acceptance

Alexia Tsakiris, BVetMed

DOI: https://doi.org/10.56641/WBJT4492

Issue: Volume 73 Winter 2023

Online Publication Date: 21 December 2023

Abstract

The criteria for defining neurodivergency, brain differences in individuals compared to “neurotypical” people, and neurodiversity, the community of individuals with brain differences, continue to evolve. The current understanding of neurodiversity in humans could also be applied to other species, as One Health (OH) has taught veterinarians about the shared problems of animals and humans. Like humans, dogs can show neurodivergent behaviors, as seen in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making them an animal model for human studies of this condition. Given the increase in canine behavior issues, the correlation of mental health diseases between species could be used to best treat and diagnose both humans and animals. Recognizing that the health of people, animals, and the environment are connected, the author presents a rationale for considering a OH approach to mental health and neurodiversity. By understanding the prevalence of mental health issues and neurodiversity in companion animals, the author contends that a OH strategy may uncover new ways to diagnose as well as reduce human stigmas around mental health, specifically ADHD. Addressing several interdependent factors that prevent humans from seeking help, a coordinated intervention between human health, animal health, and environmental health sectors may have a synergistic effect in the research fields for the treatment of neurodiversity and mental health. In addition, incorporating interrelated etiologies of mental health and behavior issues in all species may contribute to the breadth of understanding these issues for all patients.