Other Conditions That Can Be Confused With Dog Depression
Unfortunately, the symptoms of dog depression can be similar to other medical conditions. Chronic pain is often mistaken as depression in older pets, and to further confuse matters, stress from depression can make underlying medical conditions emerge.
Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome is a condition associated with the aging of a dogs brain, which can affect their awareness, memory, learning, and response to certain stimuli. CCD can have signs similar to depression. If you have an older pet that is starting to show these signs, ask your vet about CCD.
If your dog is showing signs that are consistent with depression, especially in the absence of a life-altering event, they should be evaluated by their primary care veterinarian to look for an underlying cause.
If your dogs symptoms of depression are accompanied by any other signs, like vomiting, diarrhea, severe lethargy, significant aggression, peeing or pooping more often, and so on, take your dog to the vet right away.
Getting A Service Or Therapy Dog
Colleen Demling partnered with the San Diego Armed Services YMCA to help develop and maintain their Therapy Dog Program and has consulted with numerous private clients on their Service and Emotional Support Dog training needs. She says people might be surprised to learn not all organizations that provide service dogs are created equal.
There is really no clearinghouse to start your search for a service dog, Demling explains. There are a lot of organizations popping up, trying to take a bit of the government money available for programs geared towards wounded warriors or civilians who have PTSD.
Two sites where people can get educated and start the search by comparing organizations:
I recommend calling one of these organizations and asking for guidance, Demling says. They are well-respected organizations so they are probably going to know other well-respected organizations that are training dogs for PTSD and other disabilities.
Demling says dont be afraid to look into a service animal if you think you wont qualify.
The only requirement for a dog to become a service dog is for a person to have a disability as defined by the ADA and the dog has a skill that is taught that directly assists that disability, Demling explains.
The cost of being paired with a service dog should be nominal or nonexistent.
What Other Animals Are Good For Mental Health
Its not just dogs and that are good for depression. Animals in general are therapeutic. Any form of interaction with another being can counteract the isolating tendency of the illness and the routines of animal care can structure your day when you might otherwise feel lost.
The reason animals are good for depression is that interacting with them inspires positive feelings. For this reason, the most important factors to consider when choosing a therapy or general companion animal are what animals youre able to care for where you currently live and which ones inspire devotion and excitement in you.
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Dogs Have A Magic Effect: How Pets Can Improve Our Mental Health
Canine companions trigger similar neural pathways to the parent-baby bond, and reduce loneliness and depression. Now new pet therapy trials are reporting dramatic effects
What is it about animals? As the bad news about the coronavirus continues, send me dogs and cats has become a regular cry on social media, an easy-to-grasp shorthand for I feel terrible, cheer me up. The response is always the same: a torrent of pictures of animals doing daft things but somehow it has a magical, calming effect.
The therapeutic value of our relationship with our pets, particularly dogs, is increasingly recognised by researchers. Cats can be wonderful too but dogs have been domesticated by humans for much longer, and, as even the most devoted cat lover will admit, dogs are far easier to train for companionship. Most cats, as we know, are admirable for entirely different reasons. a mental health campaigner and all-round animal lover, says that dogs teach us a whole range of lessons. Dogs love us unconditionally. Theyre the ultimate in equal opportunities entirely indifferent to race, gender, star sign, CV, clothes size or ability to throw cool moves on the dance floor. The simplicity and depth of this love is a continuous joy, along with the health benefits of daily walks and the social delights of chats with other dog walkers. They teach kids to be responsible, altruistic and compassionate and, valuably but sadly, how to cope when someone you love dies.
What To Do With Your Pet
Try these tips to get the most benefits to your mental health from owning a pet.
Pick the right pet. Before you choose one, decide how much time, energy, and money you have for it.
Dogs are good companions, Neo says, but they’re relatively high-maintenance. If you have limited time or physical problems, an older or more independent animal may be a better fit.
Cats are typically lower-maintenance. A small animal like a hamster takes up little space and can still be cheerful.
Interact often. Play with your animal. Pet and massage them. The more you do, the better you may feel. “The act of giving can be very mindful and very therapeutic,” Neo says.
Get up and go. Be active with your pet. Take your dog for walks. Bring your pet along to meet up with others. “The simple act of doing more can alleviate depressive symptoms,” Neo says.
If you don’t have a pet, get involved with other people’s animals. Offer to dog-sit for a friend. Play with a neighbor’s cat. This helps keep up your contact with other people too, which is an added benefit.
A pet won’t make your symptoms vanish, but it may give you a healthy boost.
Sandra Barker, PhD, licensed professional counselor director, Center for Human-Animal Interaction, and psychiatry professor, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Perpetua Neo, PhD, clinical psychologist.
Desiree Wiercyski, life coach, Fort Wayne, IN.
Avigayil Brown, Brooklyn, NY.
Courtney Sparkman, Tulsa, OK.
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Certification By The Alliance Of Therapy Dogs
In 1989, the Delta Society, a group focused on animal education, invented a certification program to ensure the proficiency and success of animals providing AAT. More certifications have since popped up, but the basics remain those laid out by the Delta Society. Certifications for pets to train in AAT can be received through The Alliance of Therapy Dogs. After your pet passes the testing process, all you need to do is pay a low annual fee for membership. Then, you and your pet can begin to help those in need wherever you go. Given the tremendous results seen in patients since the beginning of unformalized AAT until now, you and your pet should join and become a part of history.
Dogs Contribute To A Healthy Lifestyle
Having a dog also requires you to partake in activities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle and help diminish the effects of depression.
For example, every dog is going to need exercise. Even if you have a breed that doesnt require long walks, they are going to need to be taken outside multiple times a day to use the potty.
Simply getting outside and walking around in a green area has been shown to improve physical and mental health outcomes. Going out can also increase vitamin D intake, which can also improve mental health. Vitamin D deficiency can mirror depression in many ways and mental health professions think it plays a critical role in many depression symptoms.
There is also some degree of responsibility that comes with owning a dog. You have to get up to feed them, take them outside, and get them some exercise. Even if you did the bare minimum on any given day and only took care of your dog, you would get more done that if you owned no pets. Exercise and dogs are often correlated with being more productive for these reasons.
Plus, responsibility and productivity are linked with higher self-esteem. Those who get stuff done tend to think higher of themselves. This can help undercut many of the negative thoughts that are common with depression and other mental health problems.
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Service Dogs For Anxiety And Depression: Take The Next Step
Dogs of all kinds can provide many emotional benefits.
Service dogs are trained to help their humans with specific needs.
Service dogs can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety through exercise and routine, while also providing calmness and comfort.
They learn to be attuned to their owners needs and provide friendship and unconditional love.
But not everyone requires a service dog.
For many, an emotional support dog will suffice.
And for those who dont require a specially trained animal, a family pet makes a wonderful addition to everyones mental health and happiness.
Do Dogs Get Depression How To Help Your Sad Dog
Could your dog be depressed? Do dogs even get depressed? Like humans, some dogs can occasionally suffer from bouts of depression. Although dogs do not have the same capacity for reasoning as we humans, it doesn’t mean they cannot experience depression. In dogs, depression is not exactly the same complex clinical disorder that it is in people. However, dogs can certainly experience depression.
When dogs are depressed, they often appear sad and withdrawn. They can even lose interest in play. As a loving dog owner, you will be relieved to learn that you can actually help your dog if it is addressed. Often, the first step to doing this is getting your dog in for a veterinary visit.
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So Lets Talk About Positive Steps Specifically Four
How exactly do dogs help anxiety, depression, and/or stress? Every individuals situation is a unique one, of course, and must be assessed carefully for that persons specific needs. But the possibilities of these incredible and boundless creatures are powerful and can be life-changing so were more than happy to expound on them. While there can be many different solutions to the management of anxiety and depression, all your brain knows about any successful tactic is it floods me with more serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin is the key towards easing both anxiety and depression. Luckily, there are more than a few ways to get there. Even more luckily? Hanging out with dogs accomplishes a lot of them.
Lets start with the basics.
Straight-up love and affection .
Research shows that when we pat a dog or cat, not only is the feel-good chemical oxytocin released , but our levels of the stress hormone cortisol dips. Oxytocin promotes attachment and is thus a foundational element of relationships. For someone struggling with anxiety and depression, this kind of attachment with a dog has the possibility of taking them outside the hopelessness of their anxious or depressed state, and perhaps allowing them to see new hope in a connection with a sweet canine.
Its a symbiosis we still see, one that not only grants each side companionship, but makes us all feel needed. Its one of the most primal forms of validation there is, this dog-human relationship.
Ruling Out Pain Or An Underlying Medical Condition
The symptoms of depression are commonly similar to those displayed in a dog suffering from an underlying medical condition or chronic pain. Sometimes these can even be triggers for depression.
Dr. Sinn always encourages owners to have their dog medically evaluated to rule out any medical problems. In general, if a dog is slowing down or is reluctant to engage, especially in the absence of some life-changing event, then I would bet huge amounts of money that it is medical or pain-related, she says.
Service Dogs Helping People Cope With Ptsd
There are a growing number of organizations dedicated to training service dogs to help those suffering from PTSD, particularly veterans. In fact, dogs have been proven so effective at helping combat anxiety, stress, and depression, the government provides funding to these groups.
Matt and his dog Dozer from K9 For Warriors.
K9s For Warriors is a little different. The program was founded by Shari Duval, the mother of former K9 police officer and Iraqi combat veteran Brett Simon, who returned from two tours of duty with PTSD. They accept no government funding, relying instead on the generosity of donors, and there are no out-of-pocket costs for participants for the 21-day program or for their service animal. In their first year, they wanted to help a dozen service members a yearnow with expanded facilities, they serve nearly 200.
Matt Masingill is the Lead Warrior Trainer for K9s For Warriors. He came to the group first as a participant, and with a bit of hesitation.
I was skeptical, but my wife thought it was a good idea, so I came, Masingill says.
It is a life-altering experience. The dog is just there for you theres no judgment, no negative feedback.
Before Warriors, Masingill says daily life was difficult.
Like so many other vets, I went to the VA and they thought drugs were the option, Masingill explains. It wasnt helping or mitigating my symptoms, it was just masking them. I didnt leave my houseI just suffered from a lot of anger and paranoia.
Best Dogs Breeds For Depression
The best emotional support dogs for depression are also commonly used as service dogs for physical disabilities. Labrador and golden retriever breeds are among the most common emotional support animals, given their social and playful nature. Other breeds, such as German shepherds or smaller dogs like chihuahuas are also frequently registered as emotional support animals.
Ultimately, the best breed of emotional support dog for depression depends largely on an individuals personality and preferences. Other people may prefer to visit a farm or clinic to access animal-assisted therapy, and these alternatives still offer many benefits for mental health. Animal-assisted therapy can be useful in helping alleviate the symptoms of many mental health conditions, including addiction. If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about animal-assisted therapies offered at The Recovery Village for co-occurring addiction and depression, reach out to a representative today for more information.
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What Are Emotional Support Animals And Psychiatric Service Dogs
An emotional support animal can ease anxiety when you are out in the world, especially indoors and in crowded places. Youve probably seen these fur babies being pushed in shopping carts, on the laps of people in airplanes, in restaurants, and more. But due to the many complaints received, ESAs are no longer allowed on airplanes, and its up to the discretion of other businesses or venues to allow ESAs or not.
The only way to make sure that your dog can go everywhere with you, legally, is if your pet is a trained psychiatric service dog . According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, to qualify to have a Service Dog, a handler must have a disability and the dog must be specifically trained to help with that disability. If someone has anxiety or depression, that may be an impairment, but not being able to function on a basic level due to that condition is a disability.
PSDs can help their handlers function in a variety of situations, says Jennifer Cattet Ph.D., Executive Director, Medical Mutts Service Dogs, which trains rescued dogs and qualified pet dogs as service dogs. They can help a person calm down when they get anxious by redirecting their attention or giving them deep pressure therapy , get medication or help.
Best Emotional Support Dogs: To Soothe Anxiety Ptsd Depression & More
Numerous studies are proving that pets can be beneficial for many emotional health conditions in humans, including various forms of depression.
E.g., this experiment made it clear that adopting a pet can be used as an effective method of dealing with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Especially if pet therapy is combined with regular medical appointments.
And heres another paper compiling the results of 69 original studies that demonstrated the positive effects of human-animal interactions.
So when it comes to the best emotional support dogs its not a made-up list by a dreamy dog-enthusiast. Rather a solid choice of breeds that can be a tremendous furry help for you if you need it.
Depending on the specific condition, some dog breeds might a better fit than others. So I hope this short guide will be a great help to establish what you want to be looking for.
Do you have a specific question about the best emotional support breeds? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
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The Right Esa Dog Breed For You
When it comes to choosing the right dog as an emotional support animal for depression, what matters is your bond with the animal and your individual needs. Finding a dog that fits your lifestyle, personality, and emotional needs may take some time. Once you find the right dog, however, it will be that much more rewarding and meaningful.
If you are interested in learning more about Emotional Support Animals, you can find helpful articles below!
Pets Increase Your Social Interaction
Pets create opportunities for better social interaction, especially if you join an animal club or attend pet shows. Going to pet-friendly events, beaches or parks can also help increase your social network. You could make new friends just by taking your dog for a walk or waiting at the vet, due to the shared interest in your pets.
If you have a fear of social situations, or social phobia, a pet can help with slowly introducing you to other people who also have pets and enhance your mental health.
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