It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose depression in dogs. After all, the symptoms of depression could also be a manifestation of their physical condition. Plus, dogs aren’t often able to vocalise how they’re feeling. Yet, the lasting impact of canine depression can make it extra important to spot it early.
Here are some ways you can tell if your dog has depression, and how you can help manage your pup’s mood and condition!
Signs of Dog Depression
Dogs who are depressed are typically more withdrawn and less active than usual. They also tend to show much less interest in their surroundings and other dogs/people. For instance, they may not be as interested in playing with their toys and may not want their treats.
In addition, they could also experience fatigue and lethargy. As such, they may also be more sleepy than usual, spending longer hours in bed than before. Behaviour in dogs with depression could potentially become more erratic as they become more restless or agitated. Depression could also affect their diet as they may lose appetite, resulting in weight loss.
Most importantly, dogs with depression behave very differently from how they used to. In order to spot depression early, keep a close eye on your pup’s day to day behaviour for dog depression symptoms. Of course, behavioural changes could also be a result of them growing older or dealing with stress.
Depression vs Anxiety
Depression and Anxiety can sometimes be confused with each other. They’re both mental conditions that can affect dogs negatively. However, they’re caused by different things and generally manifest differently in dogs.
While depression in dogs is typically triggered by major life changes like moving house or losing a companion, dog anxiety is typically a response to specific triggers. For instance, dogs could feel anxious when their pet parents leave the home or if they hear loud noises.
In fact, while depression generally affects your pup’s general energy and mood, dog anxiety often comes with physical indicators like tucked tails or excessive displacement behaviour like lip licking, yawning or sniffing.
Managing Dog Depression
If your pup shows any sign of depression, make sure to bring them to a vet when you can. The signs of canine depression sometimes overlap with those of physical conditions. It’s safer to rule out physical conditions before focusing on how you can help your pup feel better.
If you do think your dog has depression, there are a few things you can do.
First, assess what’s bothering your dog. This way you can eliminate the root of the problem if there’s a clear one. This could be anything from their environment or them needing more family time.
Next, encourage your dog to exercise more. Going on walks is a great stress relief for dogs by increasing their heart rate and adrenaline. Get them a comfortable dog harness like Red Dingo’s Classic Dog Harness to make these walks even more enjoyable. Exercising with your dog also gives you the chance to bond with your dog while keeping your dog’s mood up.
Try out other bonding activities with your pup, like obedience training or playing games. Interactive toys like KONG’s Small Quest Bone Interactive Dog Toy are also great for keeping your dog’s mind occupied fully.
Upping your dog grooming game with Kin+Kind’s Calming Rose Dog Shampoo is also a good way to improve your dog’s mood. These dog stress relieving grooming products can help reduce your dog’s anxiety and depression.
You might also want to consider bringing your pup to a dog run or doggie daycare. Socialising and playing with other dogs could help your pup feel better. Most importantly, try not to coddle your dog too much as it may reinforce their sad behaviour. Instead, stick to your normal routine to help boost your pup’s confidence. Of course, an occasional treat like Outward Hound’s Smart Interactive Dog Toy can get your dog excited again.
If your dog doesn’t appear to improve after you’ve tried these, your veterinarian may be able to help you. Some medications like prozac can be useful to treat dog depression. Animal behaviourists may also be able to work with your pup to help them through their depression.
Dog depression and anxiety are serious issues. But with enough love, care and attention, your pup can definitely recover from it. If you’re still feeling uncertain about how you can help your dog, you can definitely approach your veterinarian for help and advice!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.