10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 9, 2005
I'm a 1st year medical student, and I just learned today about doing a mini-mental status exam...on a human, anyway. It brought to mind a story a friend of mine told me:

his family dog, whom they'd had for a couple of years at least, ate a battery and they took it to the vet. The vet took them aside and told them that the dog was mentally ******ed, which came as a complete surprise to the family. Unfortunately, I don't have much details. So I don't know if the vet was basing it on the fact that the dog decided to eat a battery...or if vets routinely do some kind of mental exam?

I guess it would be easy to see severe mental ******ation in an animal, but how do you test a dog, or whatever, that convinced the family it was normal?

And - would you tell someone that their beloved pet is mentally ******ed, if they've been contently living with their pet for years with no problems?


Glasgow c/o 2006
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2005
Portsmouth, NH
I've never heard of a vet calling an animal "mentally ******ed". Congenital defects do occur, but nothing like Down's syndrome in humans (from what little I know). We can't test the intelligence of animals very easily (I think there is some info out there, but it's not something routinely taught to vets!). I personally have a hard time believing your friend's story, unless the vet was saying it sarcastically - but that would be pretty unprofessional (but maybe they were both joking).

Neurological-wise, we can determine the animal's mentation - normal, obtunded, stuporous, comatose, get the picture.


Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2005
I definitely believe if you know what to look for, you can diagnose it.

I worked at an aquarium where there was a nurse shark who was brain damaged. How do we know?

Sharks swim horizontally. This one would swim straight up (vertically) to the top of the tank, and then just drop. She would bang her head into the walls, and sometimes even swim into the glass (something that somehow most visitors wouldn't see).

I think it's definitely possible to tell if a dog isn't "quite right." You may have written certain things off as quirks, but the vet may know signs to look for. Instinctive things your dog should do that it isn't. Heck, I know someone whose dog was diagnosed w/ OCD. Not sure if I buy that one, but you never know.
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