Is Your Dog Depressed?

By June 13 | See Comments

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Depression in dogs, although hard to diagnose, is not unheard of. Dogs often exhibit behavioral changes– alteration of the sleep-wake cycle, changes in appetite, decreased levels of energy, passivity or disinterest towards play. Such non-specific changes in a dog’s behavior can also be caused by variance in its routine or living space, the death of a family member or relocation. In humans, such changes in behavior often indicate depression which is diagnosed by talking at length to the patient about his or her state of mind. Identifying clinical depression in dogs is tricky since diagnosis is based purely on our observations of the animal’s changed behavior. Though there are no biological tests to diagnose depression in dogs, it is believed that they too, like humans, feel the blues.Depression in dogs, although hard to diagnose, is not unheard of. Dogs often exhibit behavioral changes– alteration of the sleep-wake cycle, changes in appetite, decreased levels of energy, passivity or disinterest towards play. Such non-specific changes in a dog’s behavior can also be caused by variance in its routine or living space, the death of a family member or relocation. In humans, such changes in behavior often indicate depression which is diagnosed by talking at length to the patient about his or her state of mind. Identifying clinical depression in dogs is tricky since diagnosis is based purely on our observations of the animal’s changed behavior. Though there are no biological tests to diagnose depression in dogs, it is believed that they too, like humans, feel the blues.

Diagnosing a dog with depression

As a dog owner, you must look out for these symptoms in your pet:

  • Altered appetite
  • Lethargy or inactivity
  • Lack of interest in playing outdoors
  • Behavioral changes – aggression, excessive chewing or barking
  • Acting disoriented or withdrawn

You must remember, however, that such changes may be brought forth by underlying medical conditions as well. For example, an arthritic dog will not enjoy exercising while a dog with kidney ailments will feel nauseated near food. It is imperative that your veterinarian conducts a thorough check up to rule out such diseases before diagnosing the dog to be depressed.

Triggers

Dogs are affable animals that truly become a part of your family. It is no wonder then that any change in the family atmosphere affects the dog as much as it affects you. Some of the major reasons that could lead to depression in dogs are:

  • Death of the owner or a close family member
  • Death of a companion animal
  • Moving to a new home
  • A new baby or pet in the house
  • Being put up for adoption or being moved to a shelter home

Dogs can become temperamental if they do not receive the attention that they are used to. They also reflect the owner’s mood and may seem depressed due to that.

Treatment 

Love and attention are the best medicines to treat depression in dogs. As most of the triggers are situational in nature, they can be resolved by some extra affection and by indulging the dog in whatever he/she likes to do. Taking the dog out for playtime, car rides, and occasional

treats

are a good idea. Encouraging, positive words or even warm hugs work magically to de-stress a dog.In extreme cases, dogs are prescribed anti-depressants like Prozac, Zoloft or anti-anxiety medications like Clomicalm. More often than not, it is the loving company and care that helps a dog bounce back rather than these medicinesDogs are sensitive beings that are easily distressed by major life changes. You should ensure that the dog gets enough time to adjust to a new setting so that his/her transition can be easy and smooth.

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