Just like us, our dogs can feel depressed or anxious. While symptoms could indicate these or other problems, the good news is that you may be able to help them feel better with these tips.
What does a depressed or anxious dog do?
Your dog’s behavior might provide some clues that not all is well and lead you to ask, “Is my dog depressed?”.
If your dog shows three or more of the following signs, a vet’s visit is in order to identify whether they’re caused by depression, anxiety, or something else:
- Hiding or avoiding you
- Aggression, growling, or howling
- "Sad" facial expression
- Lack of appetite
- Not sleeping (or sleeping too much)
- No interest in playing with people or toys
- Paw licking
- Spontaneous elimination (bowel movement or urination)
- Panting or pacing
- Trembling, whining, or whimpering
- Destructive behaviors
Causes of Depression and Anxiety in Dogs
Dogs are creatures that thrive on routine, so significant life changes or distressing events can affect their emotions.
While we may immediately think of obvious events like the loss or prolonged absence of their owner, other factors such as moving to a new home, illness or injury, changes in routine, traumatic experiences, or even the introduction of a new roommate can also contribute to their emotional distress.
How to Cheer Up Your Dog
Depressed or anxious dogs often benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people) and a consistent routine with lots of physical activity. Here are some more tips on how to help your depressed or anxious dog:
Visit your vet
Your veterinarian is a vital source of information and support for your dog's overall well-being. When your dog displays symptoms, it's important to prioritize a visit to the vet as some of these symptoms could indicate underlying physical issues that require immediate medical attention.
While many dogs can overcome depression with increased affection and care from their owners, your vet can prescribe medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids if necessary, to help alleviate their distress if their condition does not improve.
Keep your dog entertained and physically active
Bored pets can become anxious or get into mischief. Make sure your dog gets exercise before you leave for the day and that they have enough toys around to keep them busy. Many toys are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep dogs amused.
Spend time with friends
Dogs are natural social animals who love to be around people and other dogs. Consider getting a companion animal or taking lonely pets to the park, classes or doggie daycare for more interaction.
Show them love and patience
Both humans and our furry companions require an abundance of love and patience, especially when experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety. Offering your dog additional time and attention can make a significant difference.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.