Friday, May 24, 2024

What To Do For A Depressed Dog

Don't Miss

Changes In Body Language

How to know if your dog is depressed and what to do about it

Maybe that tail-wagging, tongue-out look youâve grown to love so much has faded. You might notice cowering, slouchy posture, tail between the legs, and ears back frequently if they’re feeling down.

When youâre near both your dog and puppy, look out for these types of changes in body language to understand if itâs related to your new addition.

Is My Dog Depressed Or Sick Medical Conditions To Rule Out

If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, or another symptom you’re concerned about, its important to seek veterinary care right away.

Thats because illnesses, medical conditions, and pain can mimic the symptoms of depression.

In some dogs, health conditions can even cause depression. And the root medical cause must be addressed in order to help the dog recover.

For example, a dog with arthritis or back pain may be reluctant to play or go on walks. And a dog with a stomach, liver, or kidney problem may experience lethargy and a loss of appetite.

Your Pup Goes Into Hiding

If your pet is depressed they may be hiding more. “You may find them sleeping under the bed or in a closet. This is a common sign seen with depressed dogs,” says Ochoa. If they are disappearing or trying to be withdrawn in odd places in the home, they could be feeling stressed or sad. Try playing a game or giving them more attention to make them feel happier and more relaxed.

Recommended Reading: Does Valium Stop Panic Attacks

Dog Depression: How To Diagnose And Treat A Sad Dog

This article contains affiliate links. Found Animals receives a portion of the proceeds from every purchase made after clicking on the links. These profits go toward saving more homeless animals!

Its not unusual to hear that a friend or family member is struggling with the blues. Depression is common and referred to by doctors as the common cold of mental illness, since its experienced by many but frequently very easy to treat. Many animal experts believe the same can be true of our canine pals when they experience chronic sadness. Here is our guide to dog depression!

How Can I Help Treat My Dogs Depression Or Anxiety

7 Best Methods to Cheer Up a Sad or Depressed Dog

The good news is that dogs can often overcome depression and/or anxiety on their own. Depending on the dog and the situation, it can take days to months. No matter what, the love and care of their owners, and sometimes some guidance from your veterinarian, can help them overcome the blues.

Pet owners can try the following techniques:

  • Offer your dog more attention. But wait until you see some signs of happiness, like a wagging tail, and reward them for that behavior.
  • Keep your dog active with regular walks, playtimes, and other activities you know they enjoy.
  • If your dogs symptoms are related to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet or start socializing them with other pets.

Depending on the severity of their symptoms your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication as well as recommend behavior management techniques.

In some cases, depression and/or anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition in a dog. If your pet has not recently experienced a major life change or distressing event, talk to your veterinarian about what else could be troubling them.

Also Check: Symptoms Of Stress And Depression

Recommended Reading: Can Dogs Suffer From Depression

Top Signs Your Dog Is Feeling Depressed

We like to think of dogs as happy-go-lucky creatures that are quick to show joy, but sometimes we notice an expression of sadness or a change in their normal dog behavior that has us wondering: Do dogs cry? Do they develop dog anxiety? Do they develop dog depression? While your pup does experience a range of emotions, including sadness, it doesnt experience depression the same way humans do, says Linda Simon, DVM, a licensed veterinarian and veterinary consultant for The Pets.

Your dog isnt staying up at night worrying about the economy or climate change. Still, the things that make your dog sad are often the same types of things that make you sad, like physical pain, loneliness, loss of a loved one, abuse, and neglect, Dr. Simon says. While most canine sadness is brief, sometimes dogs can experience very deep and long-lasting sadness that may turn into dog depression. There are plenty of dog stories that highlight such deep doggy emotions, like the one about the loyal pup who guarded his deceased owners grave for three years.

Your dog may also seem depressed if you are depressed, Dr. Simon adds. Dogs are very perceptive of their humans feelings, and when youre sad, your pup may express sadness as well, even if it doesnt understand why you are upset. Dogs have unique ways of expressing their sadness, so to help you understand your fur buddy better, we asked experts to share the top dog depression symptoms.

Mumemories/Getty Images

The Last Alternative: Canine Antidepressants

If his examination and bloodwork are acceptable, your vet may recommend medical therapy. Prozac and Zoloft can be prescribed for your dog, and big pharmaceutical companies always have new antidepressants on the market.

I suggest you try behavioral changes first and drugs later. Even if you do have to resort to medications, you need to realize that these drugs take a long time to start working.

Behavioral therapies might be more effective than antidepressants. If you start the drugs right away, you will never know if the dog responded to them or to the improvements you made to his lifestyle. They have several serious side effects so, for the sake of your dog, it’s better to handle this problem naturally if at all possible.

Depression in dogs needs to be looked into.

cc-by cutsforkisses 3393389684

Read Also: Can You Get Pip With Bipolar

What Can I Do To Help My Depressed Dog At Home

Fortunately, many pups recover from depression with time, along with some TLC. Some of the best ways to help your pup include:

  • Stick to a routine as much as possible. This provides structure and a sense of security since theyll know what to expect. If you must change your schedule, try to do so gradually.
  • Give your dog extra love, attention, and more of whatever they enjoy during difficult times, such as the loss of a fellow pet they were close to. Try to give attention while your dog is behaving normally rather than overdoing it while your dog is depressed. Otherwise, you could be unintentionally rewarding and reinforcing their depressive behaviors.
  • Provide adequate mental stimulation and physical exercise. The right type and amount of activity will vary from dog to dog. Examples include a new toy, a puzzle feeder, more walks, trips to the dog park, or even dog training .
  • Address any anxiety or other mental/emotional conditions your dog may have, such as storm phobia or separation anxiety.
  • In some cases, adding another dog to the home can help. But for some pups, this will make their anxiety worse. Before proceeding, consider whether this is a good fit for your dog and family at this time

Every dog has different needs, interests, and physical capabilities, so try to find what works best for your individual pup.

Comfort Them As Needed

How to Cure Depression in Dogs! Dog Depression Signs and Advice!

The loss of a companion animal is very stressful to a dog, and many will seek comfort and reassurance from their owners. Dont hesitate to help your dog by calmly reassuring him. Some dog owners may be afraid or tentative to make eye contact/touch/talk to their dogs because they are afraid they will reinforce negative emotions. This is based on the outdated notion that emotions can be reinforced. You cannot reinforce grief in your dog because grief, just like fear, is an emotion and not a behavior. Dont let your dog feel like he is on his own when coping with such a stressful situation. Let him know he can count on you.

Don’t Miss: Can Ptsd Cause Memory Loss

What Not To Do For A Melancholic Dog

Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, an owner can make matters worse rather than better. Heres what NOT to do if your dog is feeling down.

Lets say a depressed dog isnt eating.What should you do?

  • a) Put the food down and leave the room to let them eat in peace
  • b) Hand feed them
  • c) Stand over the dog and encourage them to eat

The answer is a).

This is because both b) and c) reward the dog for not eating.

As we know, reward-based training methods are highly effective. When you make a fuss when the dog doesnt eat, you are accidentally reinforcing this undesirable behavior.

So, if you cant hide your distress that the dog doesnt eat, leave the room. Alternatively, sit quietly and when the dog does take a mouthful, say Good dog, in a happy voice, so they know they did good.

Dont Reward Depressed Dog Behavior

Picture the scene:Curled dejectedly in their basket, with such sad dog eyes, your dog looks so mournful. You go over, stroke them and speak soothingly.


Fussing the dog when they look down is rewarding their sad mood. From a dogs eye view, they get lots of loving high value attention by looking glum. This means theres little or no incentive to cheer up.

Instead, carry on as normal. Let the dog see from your body language that theres no need for concern. Then show them a favorite toy, perhaps a squeaky one. If it raises a tail thump, NOW praise the dogrewarding the happy behavior not the sad.

Medications For Dog Depression

If nothing else works, medications can help dogs get past their depression. Karen Sueda, DVM, a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said medications for depressed dogs are the same as those used by depressed humans — Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. She also uses Clomicalm, an FDA approved drug for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.

âItâs important that people deal with the problem before it gets too bad,â Sueda said. âBy the time cases get to me, theyâre bad. But most cases can be successfully treated early on with behavior modification and environmental enrichment, so it doesnât have to get to the point where we need to use drugs.â

Beaver said it can take up to two months for drugs to become effective. But unlike people, who often remain on antidepressants for years, most dogs can get better in six to 12 months and then be taken off the drugs, she said.

Also Check: Can Weed Help With Ptsd

What Are The Signs Of Depression In Dogs

Like humans, there are multiple signs of depression in pups, and many of them may be warning signs of other diseases. With that being said, if you’re concerned about your pooch, a checkup with the vet should be a top priority. This will take much of the guesswork out of knowing why you suddenly have a sad dog on your hands.

According to PETMD, here are 11 dog depression symptoms that your once fun-loving maniac may display.

  • They’re sleeping habits have changed drastically, and they’re snoozing more than normal
  • They aren’t tearing into their food like usual
  • Your pup may appear more clingy than normal with loved ones
  • They’ve always been vocal, especially when that sneaky squirrel tries to steal nuts from trees, but now they’re howling about the wind blowing through the grass
  • Your once peaceful dog is snapping and growling at others, or displaying signs of excessive paw licking
  • They’re pooping and peeing in the house, even though they’ve been housebroken for years
  • When guests come over, instead of coming to sniff around to see if they’re a cat or a dog lover, they head for their sanctuary
  • When you come into the room, they hide
  • From their toys to your beloved throw pillows, anything is open game, and your pup is on a path of pure destruction
  • Forget the walks, they’d rather curl up under the table while giving you the stink eye
  • They’re spending a lot of time where their beloved playmate hung out before passing away
  • How To Treat Depression In Dogs

    How Do You Cheer Up a Dog Who

    As Dr. Sinn points out, dogs are amazingly resilient. If there is a significant event associated with their depression, often some simple environmental and social changes can make a huge difference. She suggests things like spending some extra time with them, taking them on extra fun walks, playing a little tug, or having a little grooming session. Usually, with a little time, extra attention, and enjoyable enrichment, your dog will move through their depression without any major difficulty.

    For some dogs, their depression is a less transient, more serious long-term issue, and they will need extra support. Dr. Sinn is keen to reiterate that these dogs have often had a particularly traumatic past, and it is not a surprise that they need extra help.

    Often behavioral guidance from a professional is recommended, and, in some instances, pharmacological support may be beneficial. We dont medicate out of convenience for the owner, says Dr. Sinn. But if the poor dog is unable to function the majority of the time, then something needs to be done to address the quality of life and welfare of that individual.

    You May Like: Can Energy Drinks Cause Anxiety

    Does Seeing The Body Provide Closure

    Letting your dog see and smell his departed friend can help provide a sense of closure. A dog that does not see its lost companion’s body may be more inclined to search relentlessly for its friend. If the death of your dog’s companion is planned , at-home euthanasia may be a good option. You may also bring the deceased dog’s body home after it is put down and allow your surviving dog to observe it for a short interval.

    Different dogs react to their departed companions in different ways. Some may approach and sniff, others may try to interact, and some may practice avoidance. Don’t force your dog to approach the body if he doesn’t feel like it.

    When our beloved dog died, our other dog practiced avoidance at first, but then when we closed him in a room right before the company arrived to pick up the body of our deceased dog, he began to whine. We opened the door and he went straight to our deceased dog and approached her more closely than before. We gave him a bit of time, and he went back and forth between her and us. Afterward, when we closed him in a room again, he stopped whining. I guess he wanted to give his beloved littermate a final farewell.

    Comforting your grieving dog will help both of you process your loss.

    Make Sure They Arent Lonely

    If another dog in your home has recently passed away or your partner has moved out, your pup could be grieving this loss. Someone who works outside the home isnt able to give their dog regular attention during work hours, but if you can make room for it in your budget, having someone look after them might be a good option. For example, if your pet is very social but gets stressed when she is alone, you could consider options such as a doggy daycare or a dog walker mid-day, Landis-Hanna says. Even if you take them to daycare only a couple of days a week, having someone to hang out with might make a big difference in their mood.

    Also Check: How To Relieve Anxiety Chest Pain

    Bouncing Back From Dog Depression

    In the end it wasnât the car rides or dog parks or even the antidepressants Richer tried to help her dog, Terrace. Instead it was a friendly rescue dog she agreed to foster for a week. âBenji walked in, ran up the stairs, found Terrace behind the mirror and when I got up there he was lying next to her and licking her,â Richer said. âWithin a week, she was better. Now sheâs the happiest dog ever.â

    Show Sources

    Jodie Richers, owner of Terrace founder of Dogs on Death Row in honor of her dog, Pumba. Roswell, Ga.

    Bonnie Beaver, DVM, executive director, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists veterinary specialist in animal behavior, small animal clinic at Texas A& M University College of Veterinary Medicine, College Station, Texas.

    John Ciribassi, DVM, past president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior founder of Chicagoland Veterinary Behavior Consultants near Chicago.

    Karen Sueda, DVM, diplomat, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and president elect of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior founder of the behavior service at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, Los Angeles.

    How Do I Know If My Dog Has Depression

    Depression in dogs – Symptoms and What to Do

    The symptoms of depression in dogs are similar to those experienced by people.

    Common symptoms include low activity levels, a loss in interest in the things they once enjoyed, and a change in eating and/or sleeping habits.

    Some dogs may also show signs of aggression, including uncharacteristic howling or whining.

    You May Like: How To Motivate Yourself When Depressed

    You May Like: How To Get A Service Dog For Anxiety And Ptsd

    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.

    Causes Of Canine Depression

    A number of different factors and life experiences can cause your dog to be depressed.

    Perhaps the biggest driver of depression in dogs is major changes to the dog’s routine, says Dr. Brock. She adds that dogs are very sensitive to change if they aren’t acclimated to a new schedule, their owner leaves them at home for longer than usual, or any other kind of significant change occurs, it can throw off their routine. This can cause anxiety, which can lead to depression, Dr. Brock explains.

    The same is true about moving to a new home. Major life changes like moving are stressful for people, but can be even more so for dogs. Dogs have learned to associate certain places with safety and security, and they may not understand why they are being moved away from those safe spots, Dr. Brock says. Moving also disrupts established routines, which can make things even more confusing for the dog.

    Additionally, if you’re a dog owner who has recently changed jobs or have been through a divorce or had a baby, you may notice that such dramatic changes may also cause your furry friend to show common signs of depression. Babies cry often and unpredictably, making it difficult for dogs to get used to them as family members, says Dr. Brock.

    Recommended Reading: Is Binge Eating An Eating Disorder

    More articles

    Popular Articles