Depression in Dogs: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions

In the same way that humans suffer from depression, so can dogs. When a dog’s life undergoes a significant shift or an upsetting occurrence, it may manifest as depressive or anxious symptoms.

For example, a dog’s general emotional state can be affected by the loss of its owner or a companion animal, or even by a sense of grief being felt by those around them.

A dog’s emotions may be affected by major life changes, such as a new baby, a new residence, or a new pet. There’s a good chance that any big shift in your dog’s regular routine will trigger depressive or anxious symptoms.

Vets and behaviorists encourage dog owners to be aware of the warning signs of depression, even though canines aren’t often diagnosed with it. You can assist your beloved pet get through a period of low mood with the correct care and treatment, and we are here to help you do just that.

To make your loving pet’s lives that much easier, here at PetVet, we have Dr. Nalinika Obeyesekere, our very own in-house animal behaviorist who is highly qualified to meet every animal need that may ail your fur friends.

What are the Causes/Triggers of Depression in your Dog?

  • Grief is experienced as a result of the loss of a human or animal friend.
  • Pain that is persistent or chronic.
  • Trauma can occur as a result of an injury, abuse, or prolonged stress.
  • Environmental changes such as a move, rehoming, or the addition of a new baby or pet to the household are all examples of environmental changes.
  • Social isolation.
  • Inadequate stimulation on a physical and/or cerebral level. This is especially true for breeds that are high-energy, driven, and working.

What are the Signs of Depression in Your Dog?

Depression can manifest in a variety of ways, depending on the underlying cause. A pet who is depressed following the loss of a long-term partner would behave differently than a pet who is mourning the loss of a usual routine following a move. These are some of the most common signs of depression in dogs:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Oversleeping or appearing lethargic
  • Demanding extra affection from their owners or becoming clingy/needy with them
  • Residing in the rooms where their companion spends the majority of their time
  • Variation in vocalization (meowing, barking, howling, etc. more than usual)
  • Unusual aggression against humans or other animals
  • Inappropriate elimination in the house (peeing or pooping)

Other indicators of despair, sadness, or depression can also be observed in pets, depending on the situation. You may notice indicators such as:

  • Absence from social situations
  • Hiding
  • Increased likelihood of destructive actions
  • Reluctance to engage in usual play activities

What are the Symptoms of Depression in Your Dog?

Dog depression symptoms are extremely similar to human depression symptoms. Dogs may become reclusive or lapse into inactivity. Their food and sleeping routines are frequently altered. They are no longer involved in activities they once enjoyed.

However, veterinarians warn that these signs could indicate a dog has a medical problem. A pet that mopes and refuses to go for walks may just be in pain due to arthritis. As such, the first course of action should always be a thorough examination by a veterinarian.

How can you Help your Dog Bounce Back from Depression?

We don’t know how our dogs are feeling because they can’t talk to us about it. It can be hard to figure out what they are going through, and in times like this, you need to know what to do when your dog shows signs of sadness.

First, you should ask your vet for help if you think your dog has a bad mood. Check to make sure that sudden changes in behavior aren’t caused by a physical illness before you do anything else because this could be the first sign of illness. Other solutions that you can do entirely on your own include:

1.    Giving Them Attention

One of the best ways to help your unhappy dog is to give them more attention. It’s important to give your dog extra attention in moderation because you will need to let them deal with their feelings at their own pace.

2.    Keeping Your Dog Active

Just like humans, getting outside can have a big impact on your dog’s mood. Again, you may have to start small, but taking your dog for walks on a regular basis will be good for both their body and their mind.

When a dog isn’t properly stimulated and doesn’t get to use all of its natural energy, it can become unhappy as well. When dogs are active, however, their brains release dopamine and serotonin, which, just as in humans, make them feel elated and happy.

3.    Playdates and Doggy Daycares

Dogs are naturally social, so if your dog is feeling down, encouraging them to play with other dogs might be just what they need to cheer them up. This could be done by spending time with other dogs, going to doggy daycare, or even taking training classes, to name a few ways.

4.    Keeping a Regular Routine

The more your dog knows what they’re doing each day, the better their recovery process will be. It makes a significant difference if they go for a walk or know that they can expect to eat dinner at the same time each day. Stability in a routine will help them to get up and go.

The Takeaway

If none of these solutions work, your vet may still be able to help. Medications are sometimes thought of as the last thing you can do, but there are times when they are the best thing to do. If medications are the last resort, always contact your vet beforehand for professional and sound medical advice. You might also want to get help from an animal behaviorist.

Depressed dogs need help in order to live a good life, be healthy, and enjoy their time. There’s a good chance that a dog’s depression will go away on its own after a short time. It’s important to be proactive with dogs with depression because symptoms can look a lot like symptoms of a sickness. So, remember that the best place to start is with your vet.

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