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Depression in Dogs

Whether it is a loss of a family member or an introduction of a new pet, depression in dogs is triggered off by a range of factors. The result is the occurrence of anxiety and depression symptoms. Read on to know more about this common psychological and emotional problem afflicting dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Is your dog looking listless and withdrawn or is constantly whining and snuggling up to you for comfort? Well, do not just disregard these symptoms as one of the lazy or bored days for your dogs. If you find your pet dog exhibiting these symptoms, then it might signal anxiety and depression in your dog. Similar to the depression symptoms in humans, dog depression is signaled by periods of inactivity, withdrawn behavior, and a change in the normal habits of the dog. Most of the time, vets are unable to find out the emotional and psychological triggers of the problems as it may vary for individual dogs. However, the most common causes are environmental changes, separation anxiety, physical problems, or even plain boredom.
Know The Causes
Sudden changes, like the arrival of a new pet or the death or moving away of a person, can result in the dog becoming depressed and sad. In fact, veterinarians believe that any kind of environmental change can trigger off depression. The death of another dog in the family or the owner is believed to be one of the primary causes of canine depression. Sometimes a change in the scenery, moving to a new place, or the arrival of a new baby or a pet can result in your dog moping away for days together as the attention is shifted to the new member.
Separation anxiety in dogs is also a common trigger of the depression. My friend's dog Winny refused to touch food for days when she went out of station for a few days. This, despite the fact that the other members of the family were around to look after her.
In addition to these, certain health problems can cause a sudden change in the behavior of the dog and subsequently lead to depression. Extreme weather changes such as extended periods of bad weather can result in anxiety and constant sulking in dogs. Doing nothing, not being able to exercise, and long periods of being alone are also some of the common causes.
Dog Depression Symptoms
Similar to humans, the signs of depression in dogs include days of bad mood and morose, listless dog behavior. Some of the common symptoms include:
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drastic weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Reduction in water consumption
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • No desire to play
  • Loss of interest in activities and toys
  • Slow movement
  • Hair loss
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Restless and anxious behavior
How You Can Treat This Depression
Although it sounds trite, but most dogs bounce back from depression and anxiety with a little love and care within a few months. Keep the dog busy, let it exercise, and within a few days the dog will be fine. Spending some time with the dog while engaging in its favorite activity helps to keep it entertained and happy. Reward the dog each time it looks happy and relaxed. This reinforces the good behavior. If nothing else works, and the dog starts suffering from chronic or prolonged depression, then take it for a checkup with the vet to check for any sickness or chemical imbalance that can be treated with medication. Some vets recommend antidepressant medications like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft on a short or long term basis.
Having said this, it is also important to note that you cannot expect miracles when dealing with a psychological problem like depression. It may take days, even months, for the dog to resume its normal activities. Meanwhile, take good care of your dog and help it recover with your love and patience.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.