Is My Dog Depressed?
Pretty much any health issue a human can have, so too is there a doggie counterpart. Dogs, just like us, can suffer from issues such as obesity, allergies, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They can also suffer from mental illnesses like depression.
Dogs can become depressed for a variety of reasons, including major changes to his life or routine. Maybe a human family member has gone away (or passed away). Maybe another pet in the home has dies. Perhaps you’ve moved house or brought home a new baby or another pet. Maybe your pup has grown up and isn’t getting as much human love and attention as before. Dogs are also very sensitive to human emotions, so if we are sad, they will be more susceptible to sadness too.
The most common causes overall of doggie depression are the loss of a companion animal or the loss of a human owner.
Unfortunately, dogs can’t verbalise any of this, so we need to know what signs of canine depression to look out for:
- Becoming withdrawn and less interactive
- Loss of interest in food or, alternatively, overeating and weight gain
- Excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in playing, walking, and other things that he usually loves
- Hiding and avoidance
- Excessive chewing or licking of paws (this is a self-soothing activity).
It’s important to get a vet check before you assume your dog is depressed, as there are numerous medical causes of all of the above behaviours. A sick dog will also feel depressed.
How can you help your depressed dog?
Most cases of canine depression last only a short time.
Help your dog by:
- Keeping him engaged
- Giving lots of gentle affection and attention
- Make sure dog walking is a daily priority
- Reward and praise signs of happiness
- Try dog day care to see if it works for him
- Consider getting a new companion pet but be mindful of the needs of your dog and your family.
If depression lasts or is unrelenting, your vet may prescribe medication. These are the same as those used for human depression (but never give a dog human-prescribed antidepressants!). These can take time to be effective.
With love, affection, and proper vet consultation, dog depression can be treated and overcome. It simply requires time and patience, and most of all, love.