Can Dogs be Depressed?

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Introduction

Many people will know from personal experience the misery that comes from suffering from depression. Some people suffer from clinical depression for which they have to take medication while others suffer from periodic depression from time to time. 

While depression in humans is now very common, is it the same for animals? Many people may wonder whether their dogs can be depressed. Well, the answer is yes, there is such a thing as canine depression and this can occur for a number of reasons. There are also a number of signs to look out for that may suggest that your dog is experiencing depression.

Signs of Depression in Dogs

There are various signs that can indicate that your dog is suffering from canine depression, so it is important to look out for these so that you can address the problem. One of the things you may notice is that your dog has far less energy than they did previously and simply doesn’t want to move or join in with activities. 

You may also notice that they have gone off their food or are sleeping far more than usual. Changes in appetite, energy levels, and sleeping habits are common traits of canine depression although they do not necessarily mean that your dog is depressed. Remember, there could be many reasons why your dog suddenly changes these habits so don’t just assume that they are depressed.

Another sign that you may notice is that your dog is hiding away and avoiding people. Many animals do this when they are feeling unwell, and when your dog is depressed, they may not want to be around people in the same way as many humans don’t. Finally, look out for the excessive licking of the paws by your dog, as this is something that they may do in order to soothe and comfort themselves. If there has been a major change in the dog’s life recently, all of these signs could indicate that they are suffering from canine depression. 

You should also look at the body language of your dog to get a better idea of whether they may be suffering from canine depression. You may notice that their ears and tail are down and that your dog is not as alert as normal.They may also be reluctant to get out of bed, whining, hiding away, and may walk away when you serve up food because there is no interest in eating. Some dogs may even become more aggressive and growl far more due to the depression.

Other signs to look out for are general changes in your dog’s behavior. For instance, you may have had a very happy, energetic dog previously but now your pooch is subdued, evasive, has no energy, and has no interest in activities. If they have become more aggressive and aloof, this could be another indicator. 

Body Language

Signs to look for if you think your dog is depressed include:

  • Growling
  • Whining
  • Dropped Ears
  • Tail tucking
  • Licking
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Other signs that indicate canine depression are:

  • Acting Subdued
  • Lack of Energy
  • Loss of Interest
  • Acting Aloof
  • Behavioral Changes

History Behind Canine Depression

Over the decades, depression in humans has become more and more common. This is not necessarily because more people suffer from the condition, but because more cases are being diagnosed. Of course, researchers have come to realize that in humans, depression can be caused by a range of factors such as work and relationship factors, major life changes, bereavement, and financial matters. 

However, research has now also shown that there are various changes in your dog’s life that could trigger depression. These trigger factors are ones that have a big impact on the dog’s usual routine, which can then cause the onset of depression.

While your dog will clearly not be suffering from work or money related depression, there are various trigger factors that have been discovered by researchers. For instance, if there has been a major change such as a new baby or another pet brought into the family, this could trigger depression in your dog. If a person or even another pet that the dog loved has passed away, this could also cause your pet to become depressed. A change in environment such as moving home could be another factor that triggers canine depression. 

The Science Behind this Condition

The science behind depression in dogs is very similar to that behind depression in humans. Major changes in humans’ lives can result in the onset of depression, such as a job loss, the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakdown, or money issues. 

Although the same trigger factors may not apply to dogs, it is still a major life change in the animal’s life that may result in the onset of canine depression. This includes changes to the environment, the loss of a family member or pet, or a new addition to the family. So, the basics behind canine depression are very similar to the onset of human depression.

Helping Your Depressed Dog

So, what do you do if you think your dog is showing signs of depression? Well, the first thing to do is head to the veterinarian so that your pet can be checked out. The vet will be able to determine whether your dog is depressed or whether the symptoms your pooch is displaying are down to some another issue, which could be a possibility. If your vet does confirm that your dog is suffering from depression, there are a number of things that you can do in order to address the issue.

The key thing to do if your pooch is diagnosed with depression is to try and develop as normal a routine as possible so that you get back to where you were before the trigger factor came into play. Make sure you take your dog on plenty of walks to ensure they get fresh air and exercise. In addition, try and go to the places that you know your dog loves to visit such as a favorite park or walking trail. You should try to keep feeding routines as they were previously too, as this will also help to provide more normality for your pet. In addition, you need to ensure you pay your dog plenty of attention, particularly if the trigger is due to loss or a new addition to the family.

If you do not see signs of improvement in your dog after a few months, it is advisable to go back to the vet. This is because some dogs may need to be prescribed medication for their depression but this is generally only in severe cases and for a short period. In general, the best way to help your dog get over depression is with love, attention, and stability. 

How to React if Your Dog is Depressed

  • Create a normal and stable routine.
  • Provide plenty of love and attention.
  • Go to your pooch's favorite outdoor places.
  • Make sure your pet gets plenty of walks.
  • Take your dog for a checkup to the vet.