IS MY DOG DEPRESSED?
Looking for effective ways to treat dog depression? Has your dog suddenly stopped enjoying his favorite game? Is he acting listless and withdrawn? These symptoms might make you think that your beloved dog is depressed. Is this possible and, if so, how can you treat it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today!
Maybe you just moved, or you brought a new baby home with you. Out of nowhere, your usually energetic fluff is withdrawn and listless. Can your dog be depressed? Yes, experts say so. And, depression in dogs is not that different from depression in humans.
When Jodie Richers' dog, Bada, died in 2002, her two other dogs, Terrace and Pumba, went through a period of mourning. "We were all sad, but we got through it," Richers said. We made a lot of car rides and dog parks; everything they liked".
But when Pumba died in 2007, Terrace wasn't happy anymore. "It just got worse and worse," said Richers. "At first, she was just in shock. After that, she didn't go hiking anymore. Then she stopped eating. Then she stopped drinking. She spent all her time hiding in a closet or behind a big mirror in my bedroom." Richers' vet diagnosed the fluffy, mixed breed of 15 kilograms with a dog depression.
Can dogs be depressed?
Bonnie Beaver, DVM, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said vets don't really know if dogs suffer from depression the same way people do. "It's hard to know because we can't ask them," Beaver said.
Beaver said that while it's not uncommon for pets to be sad for a while, especially during periods of change, it's rare for dogs to suffer from long-term depression.
What are the symptoms of depression in a dog?
Symptoms of the dog's depression are very similar to those in humans, said John Ciribassi, DVM, the former president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior. "Dogs will withdraw. They become inactive. Their eating and sleeping habits often change. They no longer participate in the things they once liked."
But vets warn that those symptoms can also mean that a dog has a medical problem. A pet that noses around and doesn't want to go for a walk can just have pain from arthritis, says Beaver. Arthritis (or osteoarthritis) in dogs is a painful, progressive inflammation in the joints usually associated with degeneration (wear and tear) of the joint cartilage. It is the most common cause of lameness in dogs: 1 in 5 dogs is affected.
What are the causes of depression in a dog?
Beaver said that major changes in a dog's life can lead to periods of depression. These include moving to a new home, a new husband or baby in the household, or adding another pet. Even a change in the dog's schedule, for example a landlord taking a job, can cause a dog to go down.
But the two most common causes of severe dog depression are the loss of a pet or the loss of an owner. And be careful, the dog reacts to the reactions of other people in the house.
"Dogs absorb our emotions, so if the owner died, the dog might respond to the grief of others," said Beaver. "Or the dog might not get the attention he's used to, which gives him stress.
Triggers and Treatments for Depression
If you can identify what's triggering depression in your pet, you'll learn to spot the symptoms earlier. This will help you figure how to help your pet feel better. Environmental Changes As with people, events going on around your pet can cause him to feel depressed and anxious. Changes in a dog's environment or living circumstances can trigger depression and anxiety. For example, dogs can experience depression and grief when another pet or human member of the household is ill or dies. This is also true when a family member moves away or changes schedules.
When summer ends and your dog is suddenly alone most of the day after having children around all summer, symptoms of depression triggered by separation anxiety and loneliness can occur. Weather and Seasonal Changes Just as in humans, changes in seasons can have an impact on pet moods, as do periods of extended bad weather. For example, the moods of dogs that live in areas where hurricanes occur can be impacted by the change in atmospheric pressure. Additionally, just as the onset of winter can lead to seasonal affective disorder in some people, it can also an impact on dogs. Loss of a Companion
This is probably the number one cause of depression in dogs. Dogs create strong emotional bonds with both their fellow dogs (and in some cases other small animals and even beloved toys or blankets) whom they see regularly as well as those who care for them. The loss of a friend or loved one is difficult on everyone and this is no different for your dog and they need ample time to grieve.
Depression treatments in dogs
Most dogs bounce back from depression within a few days to a few months. Keep them busy, do more of the things they like to do, get them a little more exercise, and they should be fine. And reward them when they show signs of happiness. If the only thing that gets a little tail out of your dog is a car ride, take him for a series of short rides a day, praising and rewarding him if he seems happier. And be careful not to encourage negative behavior by overwhelming a depressed dog with attention and treats while they're moping. The dog will think that you are rewarding them for that behavior.
Sometimes, if the dog is depressed because of the loss of a companion, getting another pet can help. But it should be done carefully with both the family and the needs of the dog taken into account. It could help to give him his own
car seat for traveling in the car.
Medication for dog depression
If nothing else works, medication can help dogs get over their depression. Medication for depressed dogs can be the same as the medications used by depressed people - Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft or Clomicalm, an FDA approved drug for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.
It is important that people address the problem before it gets too bad. But most cases can be successfully treated at an early stage with behavioral change and environmental enrichment, so we don't have to get to the point where we need to use drugs".
Beaver said it can take up to two months for drugs to become effective. But unlike people, who often stay on antidepressants for years, most dogs can get better in six to twelve months and then be taken off the drugs, she said.