Has your dog been acting different recently? Have your or your dog been through some big life event? Just like humans, dogs can suffer from depression and anxiety. How can you tell whether your fur child is suffering from depression or something else? If your dog’s behavior change can’t be attributed to any life changes, it may be related to a health issue and they should be checked out by a vet to rule out a medical reason for their behavioral change.
Examples of events that can trigger depression include:
-Loss of an owner
-Loss of a companion
-Grief experienced by their human
-Less attention than usual from their person
-Moving to a new house
-Introducing a new pet or human to the family
-Traumatic incident (like an injury)
-Major change in usual daily routine
Symptoms of depression
-Less interest in things they used to enjoy
-Change in eating habits
-Change in sleep habits
Luckily, there are lots of thing you can do to help.
-Give your dog more attention, especially when he’s acting less sad than usual. Giving him attention while he’s acting depressed makes it OK in his mind to feel depressed.
-Keep your dog active with walks and his favorite playtime activity.
-If your dog is suffering from the loss of a companion, consider adding a new friend to your family – but only if you’re truly ready for that responsibility.
-If your dog is social, take him to the dog park or doggie day care to romp with other dogs.
-If nothing else helps, a trip to the vet may be in order. If there is no medical reason for his behavior change and the above tips don’t help, there are medications that can help your dog out of his depression.
Incidentally, if you think you might be suffering from depression yourself, here is some helpful information from the National Institute of Mental Health about depression. If you’re at a critical juncture, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Whether it’s you or your dog suffering, there is help available!