Have you ever looked at your dog and wondered if he or she seems depressed? This is entirely possible.
But there are things you can do to help your doggie if he or she is showing signs of depression.
First things first, always check with your veterinarian first. Some symptoms may actually be due to medical reasons so always talk with your vet.
Maybe you’ve just moved, or you’ve brought home a new baby or school is now back in session. Out of the blue, your usually energetic pooch is withdrawn and seems listless.
Can Dogs Get Depressed?
Bonnie Beaver, DVM, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said veterinarians don’t really know if dogs suffer from depression the same way people do. It is not uncommon for pets to get down, especially during periods of change, it’s rare for dogs to suffer from long-term depression.
What Are the Symptoms of Dog Depression?
Dog depression symptoms are very similar to those in people. Dogs will become withdrawn. They become inactive. Their eating and sleeping habits often change. They don’t participate in the things they once enjoyed.
But vets warn those symptoms also can mean a dog has a medical problem, so the first course of action should always be a full checkup by a veterinarian. A pet that mopes around and no longer wants to go for walks could simply be in pain.
Causes of Dog Depression
Major changes in a dog’s life could lead to periods of depression. Those include moving into a new home, a new spouse or baby in the household, school is back in session, or adding another pet. Even a change in the dog’s schedule, for instance a stay-at-home owner who takes a job, can cause a dog to get down.
The two most common triggers of severe dog depression are the loss of a companion animal or the loss of an owner. And be careful the dog isn’t simply responding to the reactions of other people in the home. Dogs pick up on our emotions, so if the owner has died, the dog could be responding to the grief of others, or the dog may not be getting the attention he’s accustomed to, which is stressing him out.
Dog Depression Treatments
Most dogs bounce back from depression within a few days to a few months with just a little extra TLC. Make sure you keep them engaged, do more of the things they like to do, get them a little more exercise and they should be fine.
Make sure you reward them when they show signs of happiness. If the only thing that still gets a little tail wag out of your dog is a car ride, then take him for a series of short rides each day, praising and rewarding him when he appears happier.
Be careful not to encourage the negative behavior by lavishing a depressed dog with attention and treats while he is moping, the dog will think you’re rewarding him for that behavior.
Sometimes, if the dog is depressed because of the loss of a companion, getting another pet can help, but it has to be done carefully with both the family’s and the dog’s needs taken into account.
Medications for Dog Depression
If nothing else works, medications can help dogs get past their depression. It is important that you try and deal with the problem before it gets too bad. It can take up to two months for drugs to become effective. But unlike people, who often remain on antidepressants for years, most dogs can get better in six to 12 months and then be taken off the drugs.
Whatever is happening in your home, your dog may be affected by it. Give him lots of love and attention and work on it to get him back in the swing of the things. It is our responsibility as pet parents to take care of our beloved furbabies !