Maybe you’ve just moved or brought home a new baby. Out of nowhere, your normally energetic dog starts to become listless. Could it be depression? Yes, say the experts. And depression in dogs is not so different from depression in people. We decided to do this article to let you know all about depression in dogs.
It is well known that humans may suffer from depression, but it is not as well known that depression can also happen in dogs. The extent to which a dog can “feel” depressed is debated and has not been studied as extensively as in the human population. However, many dog owners notice that their dog appears to be depressed and is not acting as usual.
Depression symptoms in dogs can be quite similar to those observed in humans: decreased energy intake, reduced excitability, a lack of appetite, or simply not behaving as they would normally.
There really is Depression in Dogs?
Bonnie Beaver, Veterinary Doctor, and CEO of American College of Veterinary Behavior says that specialists don’t know very well if dogs suffer from depression in the same way that people do. “It’s hard to tell because we can’t ask them,” said Beaver, who is also a veterinarian specializing in animal behavior at the small animal clinic at the University of Texas. “But in clinical practice, there are some situations where canine depression is the only explanation.»
Beaver said that while it is not uncommon for pets to be high and low, during periods of change, dogs rarely suffer from long-term depression.
What are the symptoms of Depression on your Dogs?
The classic signs of depression in dogs are quite comparable to those experienced by humans. Dogs can have good mood days and other days when they feel a little irritable and depressed like humans. If your dog seems particularly low on energy, slow, and doesn’t seem to want to interact, depression is a possibility. It is however important not to jump to conclusions that your dog is experiencing “depression” and not some other medical condition that is causing him to feel depressed.
- Changes in behavior : Your dog may exhibit significant changes in behavior. It can act differently, be retired, and appear as if you have lost all energy. You may not want to play, go for a walk, and you may become irritable.
- Decreased excitability : If your dog is used to being excited to do things such as: play, go for a walk, and used to be very happy when you came home from work, and now it seems lifeless, this can be a sign of depression.
- Excessive sleep: Does your dog sleep all the time? Although sleeping is common in dogs that stay home all day while their owners are at work, continuing to sleep after the family is home is abnormal. If it seems as if all your dog wants to do is sleep, this may be a sign of a bigger problem.
- Inactivity: One of the classic symptoms of depression is inactivity. Your dog may want to sit on his bed or in a comfortable area at home all day. It can be very inactive to the point that you don’t want to go outside.
- Less energy: Your dog may have less energy to do things like go for a walk and play ball. Also, you can’t walk around the house much and it seems like all you want to do is sleep.
- Drop tail : If the dog’s tail is not as cheery as usual, this may reflect his mood. If the tail is constantly pointing down this may be the result of your depression.
- Eating excessively: Although some depressed dogs do not eat enough food, others may be victims of overeating. This helps them cope with the mental feeling of depression so it can make food a survival mechanism. When this occurs, you will likely notice significant weight gain.
- Lack of appetite : Some dogs may not be eating as much food as they normally would, so they may experience a significant lack of appetite in which they cannot eat anything.
- Restlessness: Some dogs may sleep more when they are depressed, but others may actually sleep less. Changes in sleep patterns are a sign to keep in mind when thinking about dog depression. If your dog is used to sleeping well at night and is no longer sleeping now, something may be psychologically wrong.
- Make the needs indoors : Instead of going to the door and barking to ask him to go outside, his dog may be too depressed to want to go out. This can cause you to be peeing and pooping inside as a result of feelings of depression. Obviously, if your dog is well trained and this starts to happen, something is happening.
- Be absorbed: Your dog stops interacting with you and / or other pets and stays away from the action. This is similar to social isolation in humans and can be a sign of depression in your dog.
What may be the causes of Depression in Dogs?
As in humans, there are many factors that can lead to depression in dogs. Not all dogs experience depression as a result of “chemical imbalance.”. In fact, other factors are much more likely to be at stake.
- Abuse: Has the animal been abused by its owner in the past? Many abused dogs end up showing signs of mistrust, aggressiveness, and depression. This is because they were not raised in a safe or compassionate environment.
- Clinical depression: If all other potential causes are successfully excluded as the cause of the factors that contribute to the dog’s depression, it can only be a chemical imbalance. If your dog has experienced depression for a long period of time and the etiology is unknown, this may be a case of clinical depression. In other words, your dog may have to take an antidepressant as prescribed by a vet.
- Death: If one of the brothers or parents of the dog with whom he lives or one of its owners dies, the dog may develop depression. Dogs are capable of creating strong emotional ties with their owners and those around them. If someone of importance to the dog dies (for example, its original owner), it can be devastating.
- Depressed owner: If you suffer from depression, this could be affecting your dog. Most people with depression struggle to take care of themselves and caring for a pet can be quite difficult. People who are depressed may not be taking good care of their pets and this can lead their dog to feel depressed.
- Environment: Things that happen in the environment around your dog can make you feel depressed. If you move into a new home or have recently changed your place of sleep, you may experience some depression as a result of the change. Even something as simple as a schedule change in which your dog doesn’t get as much attention as it ever did can lead to depression appearing in dogs.
- Loneliness: If your pet is home alone almost all day, 7 days a week, depression is likely to occur. If you leave any dog isolated for a long time, you will experience the sadness that accompanies loneliness.
- Medical conditions: It is always important to note that your dog may have an underlying medical condition that may be making him appear depressed or lacking in energy. It is extremely important to take your dog to a quality vet to get a diagnosis before assuming that his depressive behavior is only the result of a chemical imbalance. Dogs typically experience depression as a result of medical conditions, this is the most common cause.
- Negligence: abandonment of pets is a real concern these days. More people buy pets, but do not take into account the care they require.
- Old age: Some dogs simply become more depressed as they age. They may be less active and not be so interested in doing things. Part of this is simply that they don’t have the same energy level as a puppy, but other times it’s because they have a feeling that their time is almost up.
- Climate changes : Some dogs can be altered when there are large storms. If storms occur in your area recently and that’s when the dog starts to get depressed, this could be the cause of how they feel. Dogs are also very sensitive to pressure changes that accompany storms. Many times they can “detect” one.
How Depression in Dogs can be treated?
Most dogs recover from depression within a few days to a few months with just a little extra attention.»Keeping them engaged, doing more of the things they like to do, and having a little more exercise are key to helping our dog feel better. Ideally, reward him when they show signs of happiness. If the only thing that still makes your dog happy is a car trip, take him on a series of short rides each day, and reward him when he appears happier.
We must be careful not to encourage the negative behavior of a depressed dog with attention and goodies while it is down, the dog will think that you are rewarding that behavior. We must do what our dog likes best and give him all the attention necessary to get him out of that low-energy state he is in.
Medicines to attack the Depression in Dogs
The antidepressants They are not a light drug to play or give your dog just because they are suspected of being depressed. Even if a vet recommends that your dog try something like an antidepressant medication, it should only be used as a last resort option. That is, you should try to determine the cause of your pet’s depression and treat it with natural means. Something as simple as spending more time with your dog and giving him a little extra attention can go a long way.
Antidepressants are not effective in all people, nor can they be assumed to be effective in all dogs that consume them. In fact, they can make your dog’s mood worse and since he is unable to communicate, you will not know how he really feels while on medication. Sometimes if the dog is depressed due to the loss of a partner, getting another pet can help. This is why the use of antidepressants should remain as a last resort in the treatment of depression in dogs.