Is your dog having the blues??!!

Health, last updated 08th, May 2015, Neha Manchanda

Have you ever met a person who is down in the dumps? You will notice their complete lack of interest in their surroundings, drawn out eyes and of course an aura of wanting to be left alone. Well, dogs are not any different. Just like us humans, dogs too feel low and experience deprression. It's just that since dogs cannot really express in words what they are feeling, as pet parents we will have to be careful. Veterinarians and canine behaviourists have mentioned studied that dogs too feel depressed especially during period of sudden changes. 

Depressed dog

What may cause depression in dogs?

Depression in dogs can be caused due to different reasons. Some of the reasons may be environmental or clinical in nature.

  • Environmental reasons: Any sudden change in the environment of the dog can make them feel low and down in the dumps. For instance:

     

    • Moving to a new neighbourhood
    • Having a new baby in the house and reducing the attention and companion time to the dog
    • Loss or death of a fellow companion or owner
    • Being left alone in the house for longer hours
    • Separation anxiety due to long working hours of the owners
    • Change in weather such as long rainy days or storm or snow that restrict the dogs movement and play time
  • Clinical reasons: Chronic long term illness that restrict the activity level and the health of the dog can also lead to depression in dogs. Just like us humans, an active dog that suddenly has restrictions on food / play time may feel low and have mood swings.

What are the symptoms of depression in dogs?

Dogs are very expressive in nature. However, when depressed, their behavioural changes may be sudden and be disturbing for the pet parents. If you have a dog, do watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden changes in the appetite - A happy dog will be regular with their meals. However, a depressed dog may lose interest in their meals and become irregular with their food habits.
  • Lethargy and long hours of sleep - A depressed dog may prefer to sleep longer hours than play our carry out their usual activities. Depression may make your dog prefer his / her bed or a corner of the house to hide and sleep and stay away from people
  • Loss of interest - All the happy things such as playing fetch, going for a run or even doing tricks may be too much for a dog who is deprressed.
  • Excessive licking - In case a dog is depressed, they might start licking themselves excessively. 

How to manage depression?

In case you feel that your dog is feeling unusually low and is not as happy and chirpy as he / she usually is, connect with a veterinarian immediately for a review. The doctor would like to know of the medical history and understand if there have been sudden changes in the environment that may have triggered depression. Mild anti - depressants such as Prozac or Zoloft may be prescribed to the dog. Under no circumstances, administer any medication without consulting your veterinary. Some of the steps that you might take to manage the depression are:

  • Spend some more time with your dog so that they are not left alone for longer hours.
  • Try to stimulate the dogs by trying to engage them in their favourite tricks and games
  • In case there has been a loss of a family member or companion, stay with the dog and let them know that they will be taken care of and loved.
  • In case there has been an addition of a new family member such as a baby, introduce your dog to the baby and try and engage the dog so that he / she does not feel neglected.

Our furry friends are our family and well, when they are low, it's upto us to hold their paws and make them feel loved and cared for again. If you have had a dog who has been depressed, do tell us how you helped him / her cope up!

About the Author

Neha

"An ardent writer, a devoted pet parent and a foodie at heart, I believe life is all about new experiences and expressions"

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