Signs of Depression In Dogs

Behavior Recent March 16, 2024
Signs of Depression In Dogs
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Signs of Depression In Dogs

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Signs of Depression In Dogs

Depression in dogs can come in many forms, depending on the cause. Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of persistent sadness and worthlessness and is the same for dogs as humans. Unfortunately, depression in dogs is a serious problem that can have a real impact on the life of your pup.

Depression in your dog may come in the form of his normal routine being altered or changed, resulting in mood and behavioral changes. Major life changes are usually the culprit for dogs suffering from depression.

Causes of  Depression in Dogs

There are many things that can affect your dog’s emotional state, like changes to his routine, changes in his environment, or even the loss of a family member or pet friend. Chronic stress or anxiety resulting from fears and phobias or lifestyle changes can also have an impact on your dog. These issues can create a version of depression in your dog, but you may not recognize the change in your dog’s mood or behavior immediately.

Dog depression is usually brought on by a major change in his life, stressful event, or, most obvious, the loss of another animal friend or owner, as mentioned above. However, your dog may also pick up on sadness and grief being experienced by their owner or others around them for the same reasons. Your dog may also become stressed out by a sudden decline in the attention they are receiving from those around him.

If there have been no recent changes or events in your dogs life, then his depression could be a secondary symptom of an underlying medical problem. If your dog is showing obvious signs of depression, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about what could be causing his sad mood.

Signs Your Dog is Depressed

Depression in your dog maybe obvious if he is displaying any of the following issues:

Change in Appetite: If your dog is extremely sad, he may lose interest in food and show signs of weight loss. However, some dogs may use food as a kind of comfort when they are depressed and might eat more, leading to weight gain.

Loss of Interest: If your dog suddenly loses interest in going on walks, playing ball, or other things he was once excited about, this may cause concern. Dogs who become less active or show no interest in activities, as well as lose purpose, could be suffering from dog depression.

Sleeping All the Time: Dogs do sleep a lot, but usually when and if you are not around. If you leave your dog for extended periods, while at work, yet he continues to sleep when you get home or hardly reacts to your presence, something is most likely wrong. If you have ruled out physical issues and he is still sleeping a lot, then you may want to have him evaluated.

Peeing Indoors: If you aren’t taking your pup outside or on regular walks, then you will find yourself dealing with accidents around the house. However, if your dog suddenly starts using the entire house as his bathroom, you may be dealing with a case of depression.

Flattening of the Ears: Signs of sadness often show up in ears that are tucked down close to the sides of your dogs head. Your dog may flatten his ears when you leave the house but if you notice this often, he maybe depressed.

Paw Licking: Excessive licking or chewing of the paws may be a result of physiological or psychological issues. If your dog is depressed, he may lick or chew his paws to soothe himself.

Avoidance and Hiding: These types of behaviors can mean one of two things: illness or injury. Depression will fall under the category of illness and should be considered if injury is ruled out. If your dog is suddenly hiding or wants to be left alone, it could mean something is bothering him emotionally.

How to Treat Your Dog’s Depression

Dogs can overcome depression on their own, but it may take days or months. Love and care from you can help, such as offering attention and praise when your dog shows signs of happiness, such as tail wagging or playful behavior. Keep your dog active and entertained by incorporating daily walks, activities, or interactive play.

Maintaining a daily schedule for activities makes dogs feel safe and secure. If you lost a pet, consider getting another one or taking your dog to the park, doggie dates, or neighboring dogs when possible.

Ensure your dog is in good physical condition, as depression can result from pain or underlying illness. If your dog displays behavior associated with poor health, take them to the vet to check for underlying conditions.

If your dog is not improving after the suggested treatments, medications that treat depression may help. These medications are the same as those prescribed for humans, and most dogs recover from depression after about 6 months. However, some dogs may need to remain on antidepressants for their entire life.

When to Seek Help

If your dog’s mood or behavior have suddenly changed and you can not determine the cause, you will want to see your vet to have him evaluated for health issues.

If your dog is given a clean bill of health, you may consider consulting a accredited pet behaviorist who evaluate the behavioral changes or issues, and make recommendations to help your dog out of his funk.

Maybe it’s Your Dog’s Personality?

All dogs are unique, with some being lively and happy, while others are reserved and content. It’s important to understand your dog’s preferences and research what they enjoy to improve their life and mood, while also being aware of their usual resting mood state.

Final Thoughts

Depression in dogs can stem from emotional, physical and medical issues. One of the most important ways to improve your dog’s emotional health is to strengthen the bond between the two of you by finding activities you and your pup love to do. By scheduling regular play, exercise and walks, you can be sure your dog is happy. If you are concerned about your dogs depression, consult your veterinarian or a pet behavioral expert.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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