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Dogs and Depression
Dogs can feel depressed too, for the same reasons as humans might. It takes a keen dog owner to notice the signs and symptoms of doggy depression and add more fun into the dog's life as well as work effectively with the vet for follow-up. So what can cause doggy depression? How can we as their owners make it better?
What Causes a Dog to get Depressed?
Dogs can get depressed for the same reasons a person might get depressed. Some examples are:
Loss of a loved one, either a human or dog ( If the dogs close dog friend passes away, or moves or if a person in the dog's family moves out, for example leaves for college the dog can end up being depressed as a result of grief)
The arrival of a new family member (Sometimes the addition of a new baby or another dog in the family can cause the dog to go into a depression as a result of jealousy)
Moving to a new home or city (the new surroundings and sudden change can cause depression in your dog due to anxiety)
Seasonal Depression (changes in the seasons can cause your dog to feel depressed especially during long wet, cold winters when the doggy is restricted from enjoying the outdoors)
Clinical Depression (Occurs as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain that make your dog feel chronically depressed)
Medical Conditions (Underlying medical conditions can make your dog feel depressed because of possible chronic pain, and not feeling well, or hormonal imbalance. Since your dog cannot tell you he or she is feeling unwell, prolonged periods of being physically sick can bring your dog down)
Change to regular routines (Dogs need consistency, and if their lifestyle changes drastically for prolonged period of time they may get depressed as a result of constant anxiety. Especially if the change involves longer periods where the dog is left alone or does not get time to play with his or her family with fun, interactive games)
Signs Your Dog is Depressed
Signs That Your Pooch Might be Depressed:
- Decrease or loss of appetite
- Decreased water intake
- Hiding or seeking isolation
- Constipation or change in bowel habits
- Dramatic weight loss
Of course, many of these signs and symptoms are ambiguous, and can indicate many different situations. You know your dog best, and the best indication that something is wrong comes from your knowledge of your dog's daily behavior, and signs and symptoms lasting longer than one episode. Any situation that is a sudden change from normal, or not improving should get medical attention.
Dogs Can Have Various Underlying Causes of Depression
Seasonal Depression: changes in the seasons can cause your dog to feel depressed especially during long wet, cold winters when the doggy is restricted from enjoying the outdoors
Clinical Depression: Occurs as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain that make your dog feel chronically depressed
Medical Conditions: Underlying medical conditions can make your dog feel depressed because of possible chronic pain, and not feeling well, or hormonal imbalance. Since your dog cannot tell you he or she is feeling unwell, prolonged periods of being physically sick can bring your dog down
Situational Depression: Dogs need consistency, and if their lifestyle changes drastically for prolonged period of time they may get depressed as a result of constant anxiety. Especially if the change involves longer periods where the dog is left alone or does not get time to play with his or her family with fun, interactive games.
Helping Your Dog Get Out of the Depression Spiral
Consult your veterinarian for the diagnosis and best treatment option if you think your dog is depressed. Treatment may vary from just improving your dog’s quality of life by walking him or her more and giving him or her more social opportunities and interactive play, but may also include various types of therapy for physical aliments or medications. If it’s possible to go back to the dog’s old routine to keep consistency, this is a good idea. However, in some cases medication may be needed to help chemically balance the dog’s brain and hormone levels. In other cases, sometimes medication for pain relief improves your dog's quality of life and will improve their mood as they gain the ability to play and socialize again. If you prefer to use herbal medication for your dog there are some veterinarian that specialize in this, consult your regular vet first. It may take a few weeks for your dog to perk up after beginning his or her new medication regime. Be patient and supportive and he or she will come around. Medication therapy may not always be permanent depending on the underlying cause of the depression. Following up with your vet will let you know the prognosis of your dog’s depression and what you can both look forward to in the future!
You Know Your Dog Best
As the owner of your dog, you know your dog best. If you notice a change in your dog's behavior that is lasting longer than 2 weeks or your dog seems to have stopped enjoying things they loved before. This can be red flags for depression or some other medical condition. Is your dog behaving depressed? Has your dog been treated for depression? What was that like?
Dog Depression May Be A Hiding These Underlying Causes:
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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