Why Do Cats Purr? What Your Cat Is Trying to Tell YouApril 13, 2023
SureFlap Launches a Modern Grey/White Microchip Cat FlapMay 30, 2023
As anyone whose best friend is a dog knows, our canine companions are very expressive. Most of the time, they are masters at letting you know what they are thinking, whether their thoughts involve your sandwich or going outside. Is there anything as winning as puppy dog eyes, or anything as heart-warming as a joyful dog? However, sometimes dogs, just like humans, get sad. Can dogs get depressed? Yes. According to recent research done using MRIs, the areas active in human brains during certain emotions correspond to the same active areas in dog brains. From this research, we can deduce that dogs and humans experience similar emotions. Let’s take a look at some signs of a depressed dog, so that you can tell when your furry pal is in need of some extra comfort and attention.
Why do dogs get depressed?
Why would a dog get depressed? For the most part, dogs get depressed for the same reasons people do. A dog might get depressed because of illness, or because of the loss of a companion. It could be that the dog’s owner died, but it could also be that a family member went away to college, or another family pet passed away. Often, when the family breaks up due to divorce, the family dog will become depressed. Dogs develop deep attachments to human and animal companions and can feel it deeply when they are separated from a loved one. So, if you are wondering, “Is my dog depressed?”, consider what is going on in your dog’s life.
What are the warning signs?
It could just be that your dog feels sad or stressed, and a few simple tweaks can help him return to his old self. Maybe she is sick and a visit to the vet can determine the cause of the problem. If sadness and stress have moved into depression, though, you might notice the following symptoms.
- Changes in appetite: A dog that is sad or stressed may not want to eat or drink, or might seek comfort in overeating. Sometimes a depressed dog will reject dog food but will crave people food. Of course, a change in eating patterns does not necessarily indicate depression, but could be a sign of illness, so a shift in habits warrants a trip to the vet.
- Not interested in their toys: Some dogs live for their stuffed toys, others cannot get enough of chew toys, and still others are obsessed with fetch. If your dog’s favorite toys no longer seem appealing, it could mean depression. If the disinterest only happens for a little while, it may not be an issue, so pay attention and notice if it lasts for an extended period of time.
- Doesn’t want to go for a walk: Typically, dog owners cannot even say the word “walk” without their dogs becoming exuberantly excited. Say the word or touch the leashes, and the dogs will be jumping up and down, running to the door, and maybe spinning in circles. If your dog is suddenly ambivalent about going for a walk, it could be a sign of sadness.
- Excessive licking or chewing: Dogs who excessively lick or chew their paws are not necessarily itchy or in need of grooming. Self-grooming, particularly paw licking, can be a method of self-soothing for some dogs. If your dog is self-grooming a lot, over an extended period of time, try offering other stimulation, like playing games.
- Being destructive: Has your normally well-behaved pup begun to gnaw the furniture and shred the throw pillows while you are away? Maybe it’s just his toys that are taking the brunt of a new-found destructive streak. This could be a sign of a low mood, so try increasing the level of exercise, interaction, and mental stimulation, to see if the destructive behaviour improves.
- Sleeping more than usual: It is normal for dogs to sleep more than humans, usually about 12 hours per day. However, if your dog seems to be sleeping an abnormal amount, or is excessively fatigued, it could be depression or illness. Insomnia can also be a sign of sadness or physical pain, so changes in sleeping pattern should be discussed with your vet.
- Unusually aggressive behaviour: There are many different issues that can cause dogs to behave aggressively. It might surprise you to learn, though, that aggression is sometimes a sign of depression. If your normally calm dog starts to bark, lunge, growl, or snap, it could mean he or she is unhappy.
- Lack of interest in socialising: If your dog is normally very social and enjoys interacting with people and other animals, but suddenly seems uninterested, this is most likely a sign of depression. Dogs typically interact with each other exuberantly, so if yours suddenly does not want to play with dog friends, he or she is probably depressed.
- Drastic weight gain or loss: Especially if your dog has lost interest in exercise and is overeating to self-soothe, you might notice some weight gain. However, dogs who are stressed or sad may gain or lose weight without significant changes in diet and exercise. If you have noticed a change in your dog’s weight, note caloric intake and exercise, and if nothing has significantly shifted, consider that it could be depression. It could also be illness, so it’s important to address any concerns with your vet.
What should I do if my dog has depression?
If you have noticed some of these symptoms, your next question will probably be, “What should I do about dog depression?” The first step is to take your pet to the vet. Depression can be a sign of illness or pain, and many of the symptoms of depression are similar to symptoms of other medical conditions. For example, canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCD) is a condition that can affect the brains of older dogs, impacting their awareness, memory, learning, and response to stimuli. If your pet is older than eight years old, ask your vet if the symptoms you are noticing could be CCD. Chronic pain, too, is often mistaken for depression in older pets. That is why a pet showing symptoms of depression needs to be seen by a vet.
Once you’ve ruled out physical causes, offer your dog emotional support. Make sure your pet gets plenty of sleep and a healthy diet, and take the time to go on outings with your pup, interacting one on one. Set up play dates with other dogs, and find ways to increase mental and physical stimulation, like playing fetch or giving the dog enrichment or puzzle toys. If your dog is acting out because of depression, make sure you are reacting appropriately. Punishing dogs for unwanted behaviour is ineffective in general, but especially when the dog is suffering from depression or anxiety.
If you are trying different measures to help alleviate your dog’s depression, and he or she doesn’t seem to be improving, it is time for another trip to the vet. Your vet can help you come up with a plan, and may recommend a variety of treatment options that could make a difference. These include prescription medications, behaviour modification, changes to the pet’s environment, supplements, or medical therapies. Your vet may also suggest selecting a trainer experienced in handling these issues in dogs. Depression can be difficult to manage, both for humans and for animals, but your dog is fortunate enough to have you as an advocate, and you and your vet together can find a way to improve your pet’s condition.
The next steps for your dog
The relationships we have with our pets are rewarding, and for most of us, that means we want to do all we can to make their lives happy. For some dogs, more access to the outside world can be a mood booster, and that is a good reason to install a pet flap to help your pet feel happier. When you are ready to install pet flaps in your home, you can trust that Pet Flaps UK is ready to help, with exactly the features and setup you need. Like many people during the height of the pandemic, John Carolan took comfort in the companionship of his dog, Lola. However, when he started looking for a reputable company that installed dog doors, he found himself at a loss. He knew Lola was too boisterous for a simple dog flap, and he knew that other pet owners seeking dog doors and cat flaps were probably facing the same challenges that he was. Even though he knew nothing about cat flap and dog door installations, John decided to fill a need and start a business installing high quality pet flaps. Since those early days, the business has grown, so that Pet Flaps UK now covers much of the UK, including Scotland, installing high quality pet doors, and providing all types of glass installations. For more information, call 0330 165 4940 or contact us through our website.