Depression in Dogs
What is dog depression?
Depression in a dog is the same as that of a human, a sad, helpless, or hopeless feeling that overwhelms the one who is affected. In the case of dogs, it is usually caused by a loss, major change, or chemical imbalance.
Is dog depression real?
Although there is some debate on the subject, most veterinarians believe that dogs can become depressed. There are several causes for dog depression, and just like their human counterparts, the reasoning can be complex and hard to evaluate. Unfortunately, there is no commercial test to diagnose such things as serotonin levels in dogs. However, veterinarians today have the ability to properly diagnose and treat depression in dogs.
How can I keep my dog from becoming depressed?
dog depression The number one cause of depression in dogs is change. Any time you foresee a major change about to take place in your dog’s life, do your best to ease their way into it. Dogs are creatures of habit, and there is going to be a bit of a transition period when you do things like move, bring home new pets, or suffer a loss in the family.
After the change takes place, make sure that your dog knows they are still part of the family, and give them plenty of attention. A happy dog is a healthy dog.
There is one rare, although unavoidable disease where you cannot keep your dog from becoming depressed, and that is chronic depression. Chronic depression occurs in dogs the same way it occurs in humans, by a chemical imbalance. Fortunately there are treatment methods available for this condition as well.
Is dog depression treatable?
Fortunately yes, there are several ways you can treat dog depression and all of them work, so long as the cause is identified. Most treatments are simple changes in your everyday activities, that are easy to integrate into your busy life, and don’t cost any money at all. In the case of chronic depression, there are many available medications your veterinarian may prescribe.
What should I do if my I think my dog is depressed?
If you believe your dog is suffering from depression, it is important you take him or her to the veterinarian immediately. Unfortunately many depression symptoms are symptoms of other medical conditions as well, and it is important you rule out any illnesses or physical anomalies as soon as possible
Causes of Depression in Dogs
When trying to identify the causes of dog depression, it is important to take into account the lifestyle of the canine in question. Depression within dogs is shockingly identical to depression within humans, in that the causes are very similar.
Unfortunately just like humans, it could be any number of things, to the point where even your dog may not know what is wrong. When trying to establish the cause for depression in your dog, it would be wise to evaluate four potential triggers for depression.
Most vets agree that change is the number one cause for dog depression.
Unfortunately, there is no single change that can be identified which triggers depression. It is up to the owner to identify what change is bothering their dog. It could be a change in the environment. Perhaps a member of your household has fallen ill, died, or moved away. Or maybe the family itself has moved to a new location, and your dog is unsure of his or her new environment. Changes in weather or the seasons can also affect your dog’s mood.
Extended thunderstorms have been known to depress dogs. Violent weather, such as hurricanes or tornados, can also cause depression, since dogs can sense the change in atmospheric pressure. Even the onset of winter can lead to a sobering attitude with your canine, much like it does with humans.
Lack of Attention
Dogs are very social creatures, thus it is important that they receive a fair amount of attention each day. They need to socialize, run, play, and feel like they are part of the family.
It can be quite difficult to tell if your dog is not feeling well. Often, displaying signs of depression is all a dog has to show its master something is not right. Dogs are creatures of habit, thus any change in their behavior can be an indication of a medical problem.
Just as with humans, dogs can suffer from chemical imbalances leading to chronic depression. Unfortunately in these rare but serious circumstances, no amount of “cheering up” will help your dog feel better.
Living with chronic depression is no way for a canine to go through life, if you think something may be wrong, a checkup at the veterinarian is in order. Your best course of action is the assistance of a vet in prescribing the proper medication
Symptoms of Dog Depression
If you think your dog may be depressed, there are several symptoms your dog may exhibit. These symptoms are similar to that of a human, and thus should be fairly easy to notice. Although these are all symptoms of depression, do not rule out other possibilities. If your dog is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, the best course of action would be to schedule a veterinary visit.
Is your dog consistently dragging its feet during daily activities? Does your dog appear generally unmotivated to do anything, especially activities they may have previously enjoyed? Slow movement is one key symptom that usually indicates depression in a dog.
General Loss of Interest
Your dog may be depressed if they are no longer interested in their toys, going outside to play, going on walks, and other activities. Dogs love to be active, and a lack of interest in physical activities is a sure sign of depression.
If your dog is constantly sleeping , he or she may be experiencing depression. Dogs are diurnal, which means they are most active during the day and sleep at night. If you notice your dog sleeping more than they normally do, they may be depressed.
Drastic Weight Loss / Loss of Appetite / Low Water Intake
It is no secret that dogs love food. In fact, many owners have trouble regulating their dog’s diet, because they always appear to be hungry. If your dog seems to have lost their appetite, something is wrong. If you notice your dog rapidly losing weight, something is seriously wrong. Depression may be the explanation. Also, keep an eye on how much water your dog drinks per day. The average 65 lb. dog should be drinking about 49 oz. of water per day. Any less, and there could be a problem.
If you notice your dog shedding more than normal, especially out of season, they may be depressed. Try running your fingers through your dog’s fur. Is your dog’s fur coming out in clumps? If so, then depression should not be ruled out as the cause.
Negative Behavioral Changes
Depression can manifest in many different forms, not just as passive symptoms. If your dog has become more aggressive lately, take note of this behavior. Anxious or restless behavior is also worth noting. All of these can be definitive signs of depression.
Diagnosis Of Depression In Dogs
Just like with humans, veterinarians can diagnose depression in dogs if you bring them in for a checkup. Diagnosis can be difficult, due to the dogs inability to consciously communicate with a veterinarian. However, with the proper evaluation, a veterinarian can diagnose and treat depression.
When taking your dog in for a checkup, the vet may perform several different tests to evaluate the possible cause of the suspected depression symptoms. What the vet is hoping to accomplish with these tests, is to rule out any medical conditions that may be present. A full checkup will be in order. Be sure to bring any records you have with you, as it is important your veterinarian has all the facts before diagnosing your dog.
The “Nose to Tail” Exam
The first task your veterinarian will perform is a full body checkup. They will start with the nose and work their way to your dogs tail, inspecting every part for signs of any serious ailment. Particularly important areas are the eyes, lungs, skin and coat which can all give large hints about your dogs wellbeing.
At some point during the checkup, your veterinarian is going to request that blood work be preformed. The most common types of blood work are T4’s CBC’s RBC’s and WBC’s, which all test different aspects of your dogs blood. Combined they can suggest particular diseases that your dog may be fighting off. Unfortunately there is no way your veterinarian can check serotonin levels (the most common way to test for depression in humans), due to the lack of a commercial test for dogs.
Blood work takes a bit of time, and as a result you are going to have to wait to hear the results of the tests performed. If everything comes back clean, and your veterinarian suspects depression, they will have you come back in for another appointment.
After the evaluation is finished, your veterinarian will advise you on the best course of action to treat your dog’s depression.
At this point, your veterinarian is going to ask you a series of questions designed to address the behavioral history of your dog. It is important to be honest here, because at this point the veterinarian only has your word to evaluate and treat your dog. He or she will ask you questions about your dogs origin, home life, activity levels, changes in the environment, and similar topics.
How To Treat Depression In Dogs
Treatment of Dog Depression
t this point, your veterinarian is going to ask you a series of questions designed to address the behavioral history of your dog. It is important to be honest here, because at this point the veterinarian only has your word to evaluate and treat your dog. He or she will ask you questions about your dogs origin, home life, activity levels, changes in environment, and similar topics.
Before you begin treatment for dog depression, it is very important to bring your dog to a veterinarian to rule out a potentially serious medical issue. After your dog has been properly diagnosed, you and your veterinarian will discuss the best course of treatment for your depressed dog.
There are several treatment options available, all depend upon the causes of the depression.
-If your dog is depressed due to a loss in the family.
be sure to give it plenty of extra love and attention. Simply being around humans and other dogs can help a great deal. Taking them to the park, on car rides, or play dates with other pet owners will help brighten your dog’s mood. If it was a fellow canine that was lost, consider bringing home another dog as a companion. This is also a wise option if your dog is left home alone quite a bit.
-If your dog is depressed due to an environmental change.
getting them comfortable with the situation may help a great deal. If you have moved to a new home, spend some time with your dog and escort him around the new house. Your dog needs to know that it is safe for him in your new home. Play with him in the yard, have him sit with you in the living room, and let him sleep in the same room as you at night. If you have brought home a newborn or pet, introduce them to each other.
Familiarity is key with a dog. They may think they have been replaced, so prove them wrong. Show them that they are still very much part of the family.
Dogs live in the moment, and tend not to linger on past situations. Although your dog can be depressed for months, it is not very common. Most dogs can overcome any problems they have on their own. The exception to this rule is chronic depression.
If you can’t figure out why your dog is depressed, chronic depression may be the reason why. Treatment is usually a prescription by your veterinarian, most times for Prozac or other antidepressants. For those who are not supportive of your veterinarian’s decision, herbal remedies are available as well.
Medication should be used as a last resort at all times, only when you are absolutely sure it is a chemical imbalance. Antidepressants are no substitute for negligence.
At this point, your veterinarian is going to ask you a series of questions designed to address the behavioral history of your dog. It is important, to be honest here because at this point the veterinarian only has your word to evaluate and treat your dog. He or she will ask you questions about your dog’s origin, home life, activity levels, changes in the environment, and similar topics.