Busy Rottie   Training   Gallery   Store   Facebook   Twitter

March 14, 2019

Doggie Depression

Many dog lovers may wonder about dog depression and potential dog depression symptoms. There is a lot of news coverage and information about human depression, so if people get depression, why can’t dogs? In this article, we will look at the topic of dog depression and review dog depression symptoms.

Depression in dogs is much harder to define or document than it is in humans. After all, grief and sadness are normal human emotions but not emotions we commonly recognize in dogs. What can make understanding depression in dogs even more difficult is the fact that every dog can respond differently to any given situation.

The symptoms of depression can vary not only between dogs, but also between breeds and breed lines. Even dogs from the same litter can respond differently just as children from the same family can respond differently to a situation or stressor.

Signs of depression in dogs may include:

(1) Withdrawn and less social
One of the most common symptoms of depression in dogs is withdrawal. This is a very common symptom of depression in people as well. Many people with depression will prefer to stay home and generally avoid interaction with friends and family members. An example of dog depression can be a dog that is less interactive or less engaged with the family. Some pet owners notice that their dog doesn’t greet them at the door or doesn’t sit in the same room with the family when they are watching television.

(2) Loss of interest
Some dogs that are depressed will lose interest in doing the things you know they love to do. It may be not playing with their favorite toy or that they don’t want to go for walks, or they don’t do their normal strut around the yard to smell everything.

(3) Appetite changes
Some dogs with depression will have a decreased appetite or will quit eating altogether. Other dogs with depression will eat more as a way to comfort themselves.

(4) Changes in weight
Weight loss or weight gain can be the result of the appetite changes. Dogs that eat more calories, will gain weight. Dogs that eat less will lose weight. Activity changes and sleep patterns will also impact weight gain and loss.

(5) Changes in sleep patterns
Depressed dogs may sleep more and this can be seen with the less social behavior or by itself. Some dogs will increase their sleep by 10% to 40% or even more in some cases. On the other hand, some dogs will sleep less and become “restless”.

(6) Anxiety
Some dogs with depression will appear more nervous. They will startle more at loud noises, seem frightened when company comes, and may be more restless in general.

(7) Behavior changes
Some dogs will change their routines. For example, some dogs will not sleep on the bed with their owners or in their favorite bed although they have done that for years.

(8) Loss of housebreaking behavior
Some dogs with depression may revert to earlier behavior and start having accidents in the house.

(9) Self-mutilation behaviors
Some dogs may begin chewing or licking themselves. Some dogs will lick areas on their bodies such as their legs or paws as a soothing behavior. Some behaviorists believe self-licking behavior, also known Acral Lick Dermatitis, arises out of the confusion as a displacement activity. The self-licking behavior that can stem from depression can become ritualistic and compulsive.

(10) Vocalization
Some dogs with depression will start a new behavior of barking or howling.

(11) Aggressive behavior
A small minority of dogs with depression can exhibit aggressive behaviors such as growling, snapping, biting or fighting with other dogs.

Depression is common in humans and dog depression may be just as common. How common is depression? According to Healthline, it is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The CDC documents that approximately 9% of Americans report they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4% suffer from “major depression.” Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year. The definition of major depression in humans is “a mental health condition marked by an overwhelming feeling of sadness, isolation and despair that affects how a person thinks, feels and functions.”

Dog depression may be just as common but is harder to recognize.

Just as with people, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person that loses their job may become depressed while another person may see opportunity and be relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, less interactive, guarded, scared, nervous, aggressive, stop eating or have a decreased appetite while another dog may be euphoric.

What causes depression in one dog can be entirely different than in another dog. Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress or what will make a person depressed, it is difficult to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

If your dog is showing what you believe to be signs of depression, please see your veterinarian. It is important to ensure that the dog depression symptoms you believe your dog is displaying are indeed from depression and not from an underlying disease or a medical problem.

What causes depression in one dog can be entirely different than in another dog. Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress or what will make a person depressed, it is difficult to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common things associated with dog depression are the following:

(1) Illness
Dogs that are sick and don’t feel good may be depressed.

(2) Loss of mobility
Just as illness can cause depression, loss of mobility can also cause depression in some dogs. For a previously active dog to not be able to run, play, walk, and exercise can really take an emotional toll on some dogs. This can be caused from a back injury, trauma such as a fracture, or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.

(3) Loss of routine
Some dogs can become very depressed from a change in their routine. This can occur from when the kids go back to school, an owner loses a job or takes on a new job, or a change in work hours that leads to disruption in the dog’s day-to-day rituals.

(4) Loss of an owner or caregiver
A very common cause of depression in dogs is the loss of someone close to them. The loss can be death or from someone moving out or leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone moving from a divorce can all create a profound sense of loss and void in a dog’s life.

(5) Loss of a housemate
Just as the loss of a caregiver can impact dogs, so can the loss of another pet in the home. Most commonly the pet is another dog but could also be a cat or other species. When you think about it, if a dog’s routine is to see the other pet, eat with it, walk, play and they suddenly aren’t there, they can become depressed. It is important to note that a change in your dog’s behavior can be from their depression or can be them responding to your sadness. If you are mourning the loss of a dog and depressed yourselves, this can affect them.

(6) Moving
Moving can be stressful for us but also for our dogs. They suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in the routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, unpacking, etc. can all impact the daily walks and time spent with you. This can cause depression in some dogs.

(7) Rehoming
A new home and family can be exciting to some dogs but depressing to others. They may miss something from their prior life or feel displaced. On top of that they are trying to understand the new owners, new rules in the house, new routine, getting new food, new bowls and well…new everything, which can be stressful. Stress can cause depression.

(8) New Pet or Person
Just as pet loss or human loss can cause depression, some dogs will become depressed when a new pet or person enters their life. This can impact their routine and day-to-day lifestyle. The new pet or person may take attention away from them.

What You Can Do for Dog Depression

Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best recommendation to treat dog depression is to do the following:

(1) Figure out why
The best thing to do is to consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life must be like on a day-to-day basis. Is there lots of stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Attention? Or is it boring? Is he/she ignored? Even tied to a dog house or in a crate for hours?

(2) Optimize your dog’s life
Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, predictable meal schedules, belly rubs and plenty of assurance that they are the best dog in the whole world.

(3) See your vet
Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness. They can seem similar and it can be hard to tell. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.

(4) Natural remedies
Some natural remedies that can help some dogs with depression include Bach flower, Ignatia, Spirit Essences Grouch

(5) Remedy, Green Hope Farm Grief and Loss Remedy
Check with your veterinarian and see if they have a product that has worked well for them.

(6) Drugs
As a very last resort, you could work with your veterinarian to try pharmacological treatment for your dog’s depression. Most dogs respond to playtime, exercise and quality time with you.

(7) Give it time
It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. Give it some time. Most times they will come around and return to their normal dog selves.

Copyright © 2019 Mirror Immage Entertainment All rights reserved.