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E. Research Aims to Understand and Improve Anxiety Disorders in Dogs

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are working to identify and understand the genetic background of panic and anxiety-related disorders in dogs. Geneticist and psychiatrist Steve Hamilton is leading the Canine Behavioral Genetics Project.

Hamilton: We're finding out where in the genome a gene is that might be related to what we're interested in. Then, some hard work comes that we actually have to see is it true that that change in the genome is actually related to the disorder? 2012 The most tragic thing and one of the main reasons we're in this is because the primary reason dogs are relinquished and therefore euthanized in this country is because of behavior problems.

Narrator: Hamilton says if they find that a particular behavioral problem is genetically-based, dogs can be treated much the same way humans are treated for panic and anxiety disorders.

Hamilton: Many of the same medications that are used in humans will work in dogs. So, it will allow owners to make interventions early in life or to make decisions about breeding the dog.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.