Do Dogs Get Depressed?
Dogs are not just our companions. They are loving, goofy friends that depend on us for everything. But do you know what’s happening in their heads?
Despite dogs being a mere step away from wild animals, they are also one of the most domesticated animals in the world. This is because humans have bred them to exist as our loyal sidekicks and have given them a better life than they could have ever dreamed of in the wild. But do dogs get depressed?
What is Depression?
Depression is a kind of mental illness that is prevalent in humans. People who often suffer from depression have the tendency to exhibit normal, everyday symptoms like headaches, insomnia or lack of motivation. Other symptoms include loss of appetite and changes in behaviour, as well as feelings of hopelessness and suicide.
However, the question remains: do dogs get depressed too? As it turns out, humans aren’t the only ones who can suffer from depression. Dogs too experience feelings of loneliness, which can lead to a state of depression.
But how can we make sure our dogs are not suffering with depression? After all, they are the sweetest creatures ever. They don’t mean to be depressed; it is just the way living with us is.
What Causes Depression in Dogs?
In most cases, depression in dogs is caused by a chemical imbalance within their body. Dogs feel lonely, depressed, and anxious when they are separated from their owners or do not receive enough physical exercise.
Here is a list of reasons why dogs can be depressed
- Not spending enough time with their owners
- Kept in a cage for too long
- Lack of exercise and physical activity
- Loss of a family member
- New addition to the family, such as a baby or new pet
- They are hurt physically, such as a physical wound or recovering from surgery
- Dogs are very attentive to their family’s mood, if the household is gloomy and stressed, this can be transferred to your dog
Signs of depression
Your Dog is rarely socializing with other dogs
If your dog is sleep too much or not at all, especially after exercise
- Sitting in a corner or a dark room for long periods of time
- Eating food or not eating at all
Loss of interest
Your dog is no longer interested in games and toys and prefer isolation
- Extreme cases, they can show aggressive behaviour, either towards humans or other dogs
- If left untreated, dogs that suffer from depression can develop mental disorders such as anxiety
Your dog stop eating, sometimes for several days consecutively
Potty training regression
Your dog has reverted back to it’s going to the potty in the wrong places
While some dogs are known as house wreckers, such as the adorable huskies, a destructive behaviour of the norm can signal issues that can be associated with depression.
What if Your Dog Gets Depressed?
It is quite normal for a dog to feel depressed from time to time. This is especially true if the dog has been a part of your household for several years. He will naturally feel the loneliness when you go out and do not come back until late at night.
If your dog gets sad or depressed, then it is best to spend some quality time with him. You can take him for a walk or play with him inside the house, but make sure that you are there. The company of other people may help as well because they can bond with your dog and relieve his feelings of loneliness. In order to develop a close, trusting relationship with your dog, you have to be patient and kind.
It is also important that you show your dog the love and affection he’s been longing for. This may be difficult as you’re not always at home, but a good pet parent will try his or her best to do so. If you are consistent with the attention and affection, your dog will never feel abandoned or depressed again.
What to Do If Your Dog Is Depressed
- Give your dog more attention and make him feel loved
- Take him for more walks or play with him inside the house
- Spend quality time with your dog, take it for a ride on the car or just take a stroll in your neighbourhood
- Pay attention to its behaviour, if he starts showing signs of depression, then immediately see a vet. Undergoing treatment early will help prevent future health problems.
How to Earn Your Dog’s Trust
There are things you can do to earn your dog’s trust so that he or she can feel comfortable in your home. But first, you have to see where the problem lies.
If you notice that your dog is often confined to his home because he is lonely, then it is best if you start training him on how to interact with other dogs and humans. Start with short sessions at first. Two to five minutes of continuous playtime will be enough to feel his happiness return again. If you have more time, then go for a walk every night so he can get used to people and animals.
Exercise is another important factor in keeping your dog healthy and happy. While they may stay inside for most of the day, they still need to have proper exercise before and after eating. A good walk is ideal, but it does not work for every dog because some are more energetic than others. If most of your day is spent inside the house, then you should consider enrolling your dog in a puppy class so he can socialize with other dogs.
Also, keep in mind that dogs are pack animals. In the wild, it is not uncommon for a dominant wolf to take control over the rest. It will not only give food but also protection for the whole pack. This is why you should always take charge when you bring your dog home. Show him that you are the leader so he can learn to trust you.
If you notice that you do not have time to provide your dog with the proper exercise and socialization that he needs, then it is best if you drop him off at a doggy day care centre where he can play with other dogs for the day.