Yes, dogs can get depressed; however, they may not experience what we experience as clinical depression. Our furry friends can certainly get depressed without any physical or mental stimulation. While dogs cannot express their depression like humans, we can only understand their signs. The report showed that the areas in the brain that were active when experiencing such emotions were the same in both humans and dogs. Thus, this shows some similarities between humans and dogs.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of persistent sadness and worthlessness. It is also linked with a loss of interest in usual activities. Depression can range from mild to chronic symptoms and conditions. Treatment for dog depression includes therapy and medications.
Is My Dog Depressed?
Dogs can not express their feelings. So, pet parents should look for signs of depression in their dogs. In many cases, a dog’s depression can be recognized by the pet parents with ease. However, in some cases, it can be harder to determine. For example, some dogs like Basset hound or Boxers may already have droopy faces, and it is tough to identify if they are in depression.
- Change in appetite
- Low energy
- Isolating or hiding
- Sleeping more than regular
- Whining or Howling
- Excessive licking of paws
- Disinterested in any activities
- Unexpected aggression such as snapping at the owners or chewing of furniture
- Your dog may not wag his tail. Not wagging your dog’s tail can be a huge clue that your dog is depressed.
- At times dogs may not have enough energy to go outside to pee. If they continue to urinate inside the house, it can cause worry.
- They are staying clung to their pet parents.
- Getting destructive
While the causes of depression can be many in humans, one may wonder why dogs get depressed. However, some changes in their routines can also cause depression. Instances such as these are discussed below:
If your canine has pain or is suffering from some illness, it may contribute to depression.
Depression of Pet parents
Dogs are man’s companions and can quickly get upset if they find their pet parents depressed or sad. However, they can pick their owner’s cues. Thus it can also be a reason for their depression.
Changes in Weather Conditions
When there is a change in weather or temperature, it can affect your canine. This indicates that there won’t be any mobility of the dog.
Loss of a Family Member
Dogs may also get depressed when a family member is lost. It can be either a loved one or a pet. Yes, dogs get depressed when another dog dies or hasn’t seen someone very close. This can also affect your furry friend.
Lack of Physical and Mental Stimulation
Canines generally require physical and mental stimulation. Some pups are more social than others, and it is better to research your breed and understand their temperament. Find some dog parks nearby and keep them physically and mentally stimulated.
A dog may get depressed as it gets old. But, then, it could understand that it can’t do its routine and stays in one place.
When the dog’s needs are not being met and left unattended, this can also result in depression.
Some dogs may get depressed due to physiological changes like hormonal imbalance, just like humans, resulting in depression.
Some dogs may be sensitive and may get affected by their pet parents’ harsh words during training or upbringing. This could also cause depression and sadness in dogs.
Changes in Household
If the pet parents relocate to a new house, switch to a new routine, or include a new member in the family like a newborn baby, such situations can also affect your dogs.
Usually, many dogs recover from depression as time passes or with total lifestyle changes. Some of the best ways to help your dog from depression include:
Sticking to a Proper Routine
There is a sense of security when you stick to usual routines. However, unlike humans, dogs may find it difficult to adjust to the new normal. If you want to change your dog’s schedule, gradually make the changes.
Spending Time with Your Dog
Provide some time for your furry friends. Generally, any dog breeds demand attention and love from their pet owners. If a pet parent spends time additionally during a loss of a fellow pet or a member in the family can help the dog recover from depression. You can give some attention and care even in a normal situation rather than during depression. Otherwise, the pet parents would reward and reinforce the dog’s depressive behaviors.
Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation
Take your dog for adequate physical stimulation like dog games or brisk walking outside. Running around in a nearby dog park can keep your dog physically in good health, and some puzzles or indoor games, spending time with your dog can keep them mentally stimulated. Also, attend to your canine’s anxiety or mental or emotional conditions, like separation anxiety or storm phobia.
Setting Up Playdates
In some cases, adding another dog can help, while the anxiety can worsen in other dogs. Ensure both the pet parent and the pet should be comfortable with this idea. Sometimes getting a service dog for depression and anxiety in aging dogs can also help their immobility.
Adding Some Favorite Food to your Dog’s meals
Adding some add ons to their food for some time can encourage your pet to eat. Although a sudden change in your dog’s diet can lead to digestion problems, do not change their diet abruptly.
Dog’s Me time
Allow your furry friend to spend time with some stimulating toys such as a Kong with stuffing inside or chews or treat-dispensing toys.
Treat your canines with rewards when they behave appropriately while not punishing them even if they misbehave. A sensitive dog that is already depressed may become depressed furthermore.
When to Approach a Vet?
It is vital to know when to consult your veterinarian. When your canine is showing some signs and symptoms of depression, it is necessary to approach the vet. Some symptoms such as:
- Are not having food and are very passive
- Your dog is not showing any improvement
- Vomiting or diarrhea
This can help you sort your pet’s depression with some ideas shared by your pet’s veterinarian.
Treatment and medicines for Dog Depression
Providing medical treatment to dogs for their depression is only beneficial with some psychological therapies. Medical therapies are helpful only when your canines have a history of fear or anxiety and are experiencing tricky situations. Therefore, it is essential that a certified applied animal behavioral psychiatrist, a veterinary psychiatrist, provides the treatment. The treatment may include:
- Prescribed Medications
- Behavioral Therapies
- Environmental Changes
- Medical Therapies
Medicines for depressed dogs are the same as those for human beings. Some suggested medicines are Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. Some therapists also use Clomicalm, a drug approved by the FDA, to treat separation anxiety in canines.
Are Some Breeds of Dogs More Susceptible to Depression?
Certain canines are more susceptible to depression than other breeds. A few breeds need more activity to keep them engaged physically and mentally. If your pup is one of those breeds that require physical and mental stimulation, then ensure that you spend time with your furry friends.
Some canines such as Border Collies and German Shepherds who were bred for heavy jobs might have a lot of energy. Such working dog breeds should be given tasks to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. When left without any job, these canines can effortlessly become depressed. So, the pet owner should see to it that such a group of dogs is given ample mental and physical activity.
While some hounds and spaniels such as Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels can be smaller, they can equally be energetic. These canines were bred for hunting and would be happy if they were left to chase. These dogs would thrive for companionship and undoubtedly get depressed when left alone. Activities like hiding some treats and letting them hunt by scent can help them not get depressed.
Labrador Retrievers are that type of breed susceptible to depression. They are great family dogs and would like to perform the assigned tasks wholeheartedly. Thus, you should ensure that they are not left alone as they are people pleasers and would get depressed if not attended to regularly.
Some non sporting dogs such as Bichon Frise are also susceptible to depression.