Depression and Your Dog
There seems to be a difference of opinion to this question. Some believe that depression is a human emotion and experienced only by humans, and insist dogs are instinctive and don't possess the thought process involved with depression. Because you're reading this article, you obviously believe dogs can possibly suffer from depression, and it is on that premise we will continue.
What are the Triggers of Depression in Dogs?
It's important to know what causes depression in dogs. You may be surprised how closely related to humans these factors are. Consider some of these factors that trigger depression in dogs.
- Change of scenery
- Chemical imbalance
- Emotional causes (losing/gaining a playmate, littermate, mother, owner)
- Weather changes
What are the Symptoms of Depression in Dogs?
Dogs often act like their owners when they are depressed. Many of their behaviors resemble our own behaviors when we are depressed, and could incude:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive barking
- Excessive sleeping
- Improper or over grooming
- Increased clinginess or attachment
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Personality changes
- Weight loss/gain
- Whining or whimpering
Older dogs may even exhibit regression by acting like a puppy again.
Dog Depression and Puppy Depression Symptoms Vary
When depressed, a puppy will shut out everything. She won't make eye contact and may even run from physical contact. She doesnt want to be held, she may howl, and refuse to play.
How Can I Help My Dog Get Over Her Depression?
If your pet has lost a playmate, schedule a play date with another dog or try a doggie day camp. If you've been away for a while, try to spend more time with your dog. Give extra attention and increased activity time. If you don't know what is causing the depression, try new activities. Go to the park, go on a trip, buy a new toy, or teach your dog a new game. It's important to remember to give your dog attention only when they are behaving. Don't reward bad behavior with positive stimulation. Be patient with your dog, they may be in more of a depressed mood than you think. If none of these suggestions seem to decrease your dog's depression, it may be medically related and a visit to the vet may be necessary.
What Will Happen if My Dog's Depression Isn't Addressed?
Untreated depression could result in your dog becoming aggressive. If you suspect your dog is suffering with depression, act immediately.
What Treatments Are Available to Treat My Dog's Depression if Nothing Else Seems to Work?
Prozac is generally prescribed for depression in dogs. However, there are some pet owners who don't believe that drugs designed for humans should be given to their dogs. Others insist pets don't need medications. Some wonder if it's the potential lucrative profit or your dogs health that is being sought after. You should be made aware of the possible side effects before administering any medication to your dog. There are also natural alternatives available for pets. The decision is yours, but no matter what route you choose, act quickly to reduce the suffering of your dog.
Photo Credit: TheGiantVermin