Bringing a dog into your family can be a wonderful experience, but ensuring this new member is healthy and happy requires a great deal of responsibility. Your dog may already eat well, exercise, play, and visit their veterinarian for routine exams and vaccines. However, maintaining your dog's emotional health is also important. While having a dog is proven to relieve your own emotional disorders, your dog may also suffer with anxiety or depression. Using this guide, you will have a better understanding of depression in dogs and learn how to improve your dog's emotional health.
Signs of Depression in Dogs
Humans and dogs will display similar signs of depression. Unfortunately, your dog will not be able to discuss emotions with you or a doctor, so you will need to pay attention to their behavior. If you notice the following in your dog's behavior, they may be suffering with depression:
- Lethargy/Lack of Energy
- Lack of Excitement
- Excessive Sleep
- Loss of Appetite
- Weight Loss
- Less Social/Withdrawn
- Urinary/Fecal Accidents Inside Home
It is important to note that some breeds are naturally lethargic, sleepy, and inactive. English bulldogs, chow chows, basset hounds, and mastiffs are usually inactive, so determining if these dog breeds have depression can be more difficult. If your dog begins acting different from normal, contact a veterinarian to test for conditions that could affect their underlying physical and emotional health.
Causes of Depression in Dogs
Dogs who were abused or neglected in the past will most likely have depression. However, other factors may contribute to the develop of this disorder.
Dogs become very attached to both human family members and other pets. If your household has recently lost a close family member of pet, your dog may become withdrawn and sad, leading to a severe case of depression.
Neurological conditions and infections may cause chemical imbalances in your dog's brain, leading to depression. Parvovirus, hypoglycemia, pancreatitis, cancer, and even arthritis may all disrupt your dog's physical and emotional health.
SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a common cause of depression in dogs, as well. In the winter, days are shorter, colder, and darker. These changes not only change the weather, but they can also cause SAD, increasing your dog's risk of depression.
Treating Your Dog's Depression
Easing your dog's depression will require a consultation with the veterinarian. In most cases, testing will be conducted to determine if your dog has any underlying medical issues that will require specific treatment.
If no medical issues are found, the veterinarian may recommend medication to treat the depression. Many of the same medications used to treat depression in humans can be effective for your dog. Although humans may need to take these medications all through their life, most dogs who take antidepressants will see noticeable improvements after 6 or 12 months.
Most doctors will discuss the benefits of exercise in relieving anxiety and depression in humans with depression, but exercise is also helpful for dogs dealing with the condition. After the vet diagnoses your dog with depression, increase their daily activity.
Take them on multiple short walks or runs through the day. Or, consider adding a longer walk to their daily routine. Exercise not only increases blood flow and reduces the risk of weight gain, but it also increases the brain's production of endorphins, which will improve your dog's mood.
For dogs with SAD, increase the amount of time they spend outdoors in the sun. Make sure they exercise outdoors and allow them to spend time on a sunny porch or patio each day.
Just like humans, your dog may develop depression. With this guide and the help of the veterinarian, you will understand the signs, causes, and treatment options for your dog's depression. Have a peek at this web-site for more information.