Depression In Dogs
If you have ever wondered if dogs can suffer from depression, the answer is yes, then can. Owners most often report depression in their dogs when a family member dies or if another dog or pet in the family dies. Dogs can also experience depression if there are drastic changes in the home such as a move, a new baby, a change in jobs for the owner (and the dog is not getting time with the owner), or the owner starts dating someone or gets married. These are all things that can mean a big change in lifestyle for a dog, or cut into the time the dog gets to spend with the owner.
Although we can’t ask dogs about what makes them depressed, judging from outward appearances it seems that dogs become depressed for many of the same reasons that humans become depressed. Things that bring big changes to their lives can lead to depression, especially if it involves the loss of someone they are very close to. They can take death or the loss of a loved one very hard, but other things in life that call for a big adjustment can also lead to depression.
The symptoms of depression in dogs are also similar to those in humans:
- Withdrawal from people and other pets
- Avoiding former activities
- Loss of appetite
- Sleeping a lot
It can be hard to be sure that these are symptoms of depression, however, because some of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. If you notice these symptoms the first thing you should do is take your dog to the vet for an exam. Your vet can rule out physical problems and try to determine if your vet is experiencing depression.
Most depression experienced by dog will resolve in a few weeks or months but sometimes it will not. The best thing you can do for your dog is try to keep him engaged in life in your home. Spend time with him. Do things with him that he used to enjoy, such as going for car rides, going to the park, playing games, if possible.
It’s important that you encourage your dog to be happy, too. When he shows happiness doing something, you should reward him by petting him and letting him know that it’s good to be happy. Many owners feel so sorry for their dogs when they are depressed that they accidentally encourage their dogs to continue being depressed by petting them and soothing them when they are down. Instead, try to find ways to help your dog feel more positive.
If your dog is upset because he has lost another dog friend, then it can help to add a new dog to the house, but you must do so very carefully. In some cases your dog may react badly to the new dog. He could ignore him or worse.
In some cases you may need to talk to your veterinarian about medication for your dog if he does not improve within a reasonable time. Depression in dogs is treated with the same anti-depressants that humans take. As with humans, it takes several weeks for these medications to become effective. However, most dogs can stop taking the pills after just a few months and do not have to take them longterm. Do not give your dog any anti-depressants that have been prescribed for you. Your dog needs to be assessed by your vet and should have his own medication, with the proper dose measured for him.
If your dog is depressed, don’t give up hope. Most dogs recover from depression in a few weeks or months. Keep trying to get your dog interested in the things he used to care about. Seek your vet’s help if you notice the symptoms of depression. Your dog will return to his old self. Be patient with him.
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