It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It
All dogs should have some training so that they can have the freedom they need to be able to be let off the lead, where it is safe to do so, and so they are not a nuisance or danger to themselves or others. How you train your dog and how you relate to them day-to-day will have an impact on their mood.
Reward-based training methods and handling improve the bond between a dog and their owner. Heavy-handed methods that rely on punishment can however leave the dog feeling unable to succeed, resulting in a loss of confidence in their owner, and producing a state of learned helplessness. These dogs may appear quiet and well-behaved, but may actually be experiencing a very low mood state and chronic stress where it is far safer to do nothing.
Top Signs Your Dog Is Feeling Depressed
We like to think of dogs as happy-go-lucky creatures that are quick to show joy, but sometimes we notice an expression of sadness or a change in their normal dog behavior that has us wondering: Do dogs cry? Do they develop dog anxiety? Do they develop dog depression? While your pup does experience a range of emotions, including sadness, it doesnt experience depression the same way humans do, says Linda Simon, DVM, a licensed veterinarian and veterinary consultant for The Pets.
Your dog isnt staying up at night worrying about the economy or climate change. Still, the things that make your dog sad are often the same types of things that make you sad, like physical pain, loneliness, loss of a loved one, abuse, and neglect, Dr. Simon says. While most canine sadness is brief, sometimes dogs can experience very deep and long-lasting sadness that may turn into dog depression. There are plenty of dog stories that highlight such deep doggy emotions, like the one about the loyal pup who guarded his deceased owners grave for three years.
Your dog may also seem depressed if you are depressed, Dr. Simon adds. Dogs are very perceptive of their humans feelings, and when youre sad, your pup may express sadness as well, even if it doesnt understand why you are upset. Dogs have unique ways of expressing their sadness, so to help you understand your fur buddy better, we asked experts to share the top dog depression symptoms.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Depressed
The symptoms of depression in dogs can be similar to those in humans, from withdrawing themselves from social situations to being quieter than normal it can be heartbreaking to watch. Some of the tell-tale signs your dog has depression include…
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Signs Of Depression In Dogs
Depression can show up in many different ways, depending on the cause. A pet thats depressed from the loss of a long-term companion will act differently than a pet that is grieving the loss of a normal routine during a move.
A 2016 study out of New Zealand and Australia looked at the signs of depression in dogs and cats after the losing a companion animal.3 These signs may include:
Sleeping more than usual or appearing lethargic
Demanding more affection or being clingy/needy with their owners
Frequenting areas of the home where their companion sent the majority of their time
A change in vocalization
Unusually aggressive behavior towards people or other animals
Inappropriate elimination in the home
We can also see other signs of depression, sadness, or anxiety in pets, depending on the situation. You may see signs like:
Withdrawal from social situations
Increase in destructive behaviors
Not wanting to participate in normal play activities
When a veterinarian is looking to potentially diagnose a pet with depression, the first step is to get a thorough medical history from the pet parent. Knowing about any changes in the home can be extraordinarily helpful in determining if depression is the cause of any clinical signs your pet is showing.
Know What To Look For
If you don’t have any specialized training, you might not be familiar with what is normal when it comes to your dog’s mental health and what isn’t. The thing is, you know what’s normal for your pup, so you can spot any abnormalities. Has your dog’s behavior changed? If so how? If they are less enthusiastic about eating, playing, socializing, or being pet than they usually are, this might be a sign that something isn’t right, Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, a certified professional dog trainer and founder of Fun Paw Care, tells Bustle. Watch out for changes in personality and body language, and if they’re lasting, check in with the vet.
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Signs Your Dog May Be Depressedand What You Can Do To Help
Almost all of the same symptoms of depression that dogs and humans experience are low activity levels, a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, and a change in eating and sleeping habits. A dogs behavior may also indicate aggression, such as unusual howling or whining. If any of these symptoms appear, you should take your dog to the vet for a diagnosis. When the vet has a good idea what is causing the symptoms, they can advise you on the best course of action. It is critical to provide your dog with the proper level of care in order for them to recover quickly from a period of depression. They should be rewarded when they demonstrate happiness through activities they enjoy, exercise, and rewards.
Changes In Sleeping Habits
It’s no secret that dogs sleep a lot, particularly when their owners are gone. However, you should be concerned if you leave your dog for a long time and he continues to sleep after you get home, barely reacting to your presence, something is probably wrong, or if he stays curled up instead of coming to the window or door for things that once attracted him, like the visitors or a passing dog.
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When Should I Call The Vet
For all the reasons mentioned above, its best to contact your vet as soon as you notice your dog has experienced a change in behavior.
In addition to the importance of ruling out a medical cause, early treatment is best for depression or any other mental health condition. While symptoms of depression usually dont require an emergency visit , its best to seek care as soon as possible.
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How Do I Know If My Dog Has Depression
The symptoms of depression in dogs are similar to those experienced by people.
Common symptoms include low activity levels, a loss in interest in the things they once enjoyed, and a change in eating and/or sleeping habits.
Some dogs may also show signs of aggression, including uncharacteristic howling or whining.
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Give Them Something To Stay Busy
You can’t always be home to play hide and seek with your dog or play fetch with them. But leaving them with something entertaining can keep them engaged until you get back and are able to play games with them. Try to opt for a toy that won’t be chewed apart quickly. “Purchase a new toy like a Kong Toy or Starmark Ball,” Franklin says. “These are safe and durable and they last a long time.” Hide treats or peanut butter inside so that your dog doesn’t lose interest, and they’ll be working hard to excavate the deliciousness all afternoon.
Spending Too Much Time Inside
Dogs need space to run around and might become sad if they havent been given the chance. Staying indoors all the time, away from nature and sunshine and friends, can take a serious toll on both human and canine mental health, says Dr. Simon.
Know how much exercise your pup needs. Then take the time to bring your dog on long walks or to the parkits good for both of you! Once your pet starts getting the freedom it craves, it might slowly get its energy back.
Learning what makes your pup upset is a good first step. From there, its important to recognize the signs of depression in a dog. Keep reading to learn the most common dog depression symptoms, according to our experts.
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Sleeping More Than Usual
Every animal is different, so theres no set number of hours your pet will sleep per day if it has dog depression. Just pay attention to whether your dog is spending more time in bed than usual.
If your 15-year-old dog normally sleeps 14 hours a day, and now its 20, that would be a big difference, says Dr. Ryan. And speaking of sleeping, heres your answer to the question of what dogs dream about.
Beating The Doggie Blues
If your dog is getting less exercise than usual for any reason – during wintry weather, for example – think about and increasing the amount of he receives. Puzzle-solving toys are a fantastic way to keep his mind occupied. They also have the benefit of rewarding him each time he gets the puzzle right – something that’s sure to help increase his dopamine levels.
You could also try bringing his exercise indoors. Think about creating an obstacle course with cardboard boxes for your dog to chase through, or invest in an indoor-friendly ball, for a game of catch in your living room.
Always keep in mind that while caring for your dog’s physical health is important, it’s just as crucial to keep him , too.
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Make Sure They Aren’t Lonely
If another dog in your home has recently passed away or your partner has moved out, your pup could be grieving this loss. Someone who works outside the home isn’t able to give their dog regular attention during work hours, but if you can make room for it in your budget, having someone look after them might be a good option. “For example, if your pet is very social but gets stressed when she is alone, you could consider options such as a doggy daycare or a dog walker mid-day,” Landis-Hanna says. Even if you take them to daycare only a couple of days a week, having someone to hang out with might make a big difference in their mood.
How Can I Help Treat My Dog’s Depression Or Anxiety
The good news is that dogs can often overcome depression and/or anxiety on their own. Depending on the dog and the situation, it can take days to months. No matter what, the love and care of their owners, and sometimes some guidance from your veterinarian, can help them overcome the blues.
Pet owners can try the following techniques:
- Offer your dog more attention. But wait until you see some signs of happiness, like a wagging tail, and reward them for that behavior.
- Keep your dog active with regular walks, playtimes, and other activities you know they enjoy.
- If your dog’s symptoms are related to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet or start socializing them with other pets.
Depending on the severity of their symptoms your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication as well as recommend behavior management techniques.
In some cases, depression and/or anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition in a dog. If your pet has not recently experienced a major life change or distressing event, talk to your veterinarian about what else could be troubling them.
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Unexpectedly Effective Ideas To Cheer Up A Depressed Dog
Lately, you’ve been noticing that your dog sleeps more than usual, eats less, and spends most of his time moping around the house. This is quite the opposite of his regular behavior! No doubt, you’re worried. What your furry friend might be experiencing right now is depression, a condition that is not dissimilar to depression in humans.
Lately, youve been noticing that your dog sleeps more than usual, eats less, and spends most of his time moping around the house. This is quite the opposite of his regular behavior! No doubt, youre worried. What your furry friend might be experiencing right now is depression, a condition that is not dissimilar to depression in humans.
How To Treat Depression In Dogs
As Dr. Sinn points out, dogs are amazingly resilient. If there is a significant event associated with their depression, often some simple environmental and social changes can make a huge difference. She suggests things like spending some extra time with them, taking them on extra fun walks, playing a little tug, or having a little grooming session. Usually, with a little time, extra attention, and enjoyable enrichment, your dog will move through their depression without any major difficulty.
For some dogs, their depression is a less transient, more serious long-term issue, and they will need extra support. Dr. Sinn is keen to reiterate that these dogs have often had a particularly traumatic past, and it is not a surprise that they need extra help.
Often behavioral guidance from a professional is recommended, and, in some instances, pharmacological support may be beneficial. We dont medicate out of convenience for the owner, says Dr. Sinn. But if the poor dog is unable to function the majority of the time, then something needs to be done to address the quality of life and welfare of that individual.
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Take Him Out For A Ride
If your dog enjoys going for rides in the car, take him out for a drive to cheer him up. If possible, get your family together when taking your dog out for a drive. Your dog is sure to enjoy the fresh air and being with your family while going out for a ride. However, if your dog is scared of traveling, avoid this idea. If your dog usually only sits in the car before you take him to the vet, avoid this at all costs, as it will only scare him and add to his depression.
How Can I Cheer My Dog Up
Depressed or anxious dogs frequently benefit from predictable environments, carefully supervised social interaction , and a consistent routine that includes plenty of physical activity. Here are some additional tips for reducing dog depression:
Visit Your Vet
Because some symptoms of depression and anxiety can have physical causes that need urgent medical attention, the first thing to do is to schedule a visit with your veterinarian.
Although the majority of dogs recover from depression on their own , your veterinarian may prescribe medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if they do not improve.
Keep Your Dog Entertained & Physically Active
Boredom-stricken pets are notorious for mischief and anxiety. Assure that your dog receives adequate exercise before you leave for the day and that they have enough toys to keep them occupied to help alleviate dog anxiety. To keep your dog occupied, look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats.
Spend Time With Friends
Dogs are inherently social creatures who thrive in the company of humans and other animals. Consider purchasing a companion animal or bringing lonely pets to the park, classes, or doggie daycare to increase their social interaction.
Show Your Pooch Love & Patience
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How To Overcome Depression After The Loss Of A Dog
To overcome the depression that comes from the loss of a dog, it is necessary to proceed with great calmness and caution. The ideal would be to remember the memories of our dog from when he was puppy until the end. Begin gradually, one memory at a time. What will happen to you, after the first pang of pain, will be regret and a sense of guilt. Banish these thoughts from your mind and think about how you gave your dog a home, his daily meals, and all the love a dog might want. Think about how fortunate he was in comparison to all the poor animals tortured or abandoned by ignorant beings.
At the end of this journey you will have precious memories that no one can take from you and you will be ready for the next adventure. Deciding if and when to get another dog depends entirely on you some prefer to get one immediately, others prefer to wait a few months. Finally, there are those who recommend getting a new dog of the same breed and those who suggest getting a different kind of dog just in case the new dog reminds you too much of the old one. Regarding this last thought, we would like to point out that we disagree, a new dog must not be a substitute and of course it should not have the purpose of making us forget those who are no longer with us
In any case, everything is subjective, there are no rules on how to behave, we only recommend two things: take all the time you need and take another dog only when you feel a strong desire to give love to another creature.
Comfort Them As Needed
The loss of a companion animal is very stressful to a dog, and many will seek comfort and reassurance from their owners. Don’t hesitate to help your dog by calmly reassuring him. Some dog owners may be afraid or tentative to make eye contact/touch/talk to their dogs because they are afraid they will reinforce negative emotions. This is based on the outdated notion that emotions can be reinforced. You cannot reinforce grief in your dog because grief, just like fear, is an emotion and not a behavior. Don’t let your dog feel like he is on his own when coping with such a stressful situation. Let him know he can count on you.
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