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This post was updated on February 11, 2022.
We adore our dogs. When their behavior or mood is “off” or they seem unhappy, it’s devastating. If your dog seems depressed recently or has struggled with sadness in the past, you know how confusing and frustrating it can be.
The hardest thing about a sad or depressed dog is that we can’t ask them what’s wrong.
Vets agree that depression in dogs is not uncommon. However, it rarely lasts for a long period of time. Pet parents will learn about depression in dogs, including signs and symptoms, causes of depression, treatments, and what pet parents can do to help improve their dog’s life.
If your dog seems depressed, there are certain signs and symptoms to look for in your pup.
Dogs can show signs of depression just like humans do. This can lead to chronic pain, health problems, and a decreased quality of life.
These symptoms may not be as noticeable as a physical illness or sickness in your pup, leading many dog owners to overlook the possibility of their dog being depressed.
Here are 8 signs and symptoms to look for in depressed dogs:
If your dog suffers from any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for an evaluation.
Before diagnosing a dog as depressed, your vet will want to rule out all other medical conditions that could cause similar behavior. Taking your pup to a new vet?
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why depression occurs in pups. Here are a few possible causes of depression in dogs:
Changes to a dog’s routine can cause depression. Also, the addition of another pet is a common trigger, as is a new partner, baby, or family member in the house.
There are other mental health issues dogs deal with that may appear as canine depression. For instance, dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if their owners are away for an extended period of time, which may lead to your dog’s mood changing.
Your four-legged friend may lose interest in their normal stimuli when you’re not there to play with them or care for them like they’re used to. Take care when leaving your dog, and try to leave for short periods of time to acclimate your pup to your absence. That way, they’ll know you’ll always come back.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is one that affects both animals and humans and can make your pup experience anxiety and depression.
If your dog suddenly appears sad in the colder months when the sun is shining less, SAD might be the culprit.
The most common cause of severe dog depression, though, is the loss of a companion; animal or human. Dogs feel grief and they feel it in their owners as well.
Losing a companion is one of the most distressing events one can go through, and the pain and grief is felt by everyone. Your dog may feel depression or show signs of depression at the loss of another loved one.
Is it a good idea to visit the vet during the grieving time, and give everyone in the family time to adjust to the companion’s absence. Your dog may show signs of depression initially, but over time their mood may improve.
Based on temperament and personality, certain dog breeds are prone to depression more than others.
Some breeds that are more likely to suffer from depression are:
Some pet owners might dismiss their dog’s behavior as boredom. If this is the case, try taking your dog out for activities they used to enjoy and see how they respond.
For sad dogs, this might look like taking them for a car ride or out to the dog park. Perhaps bring one of their favorite toys along with you to see if it sparks any new interest. Take note of any changes to your dog’s mood-maybe they needed a change of scenery to get out of the blues!
For dog parents looking for solutions to cure depression, medications can help. Here are a few ways to treat dog depression.
Putting a depressed dog on medication is a personal choice for each dog parent. However, antidepressant medications are prescribed fairly often to dogs who have symptoms of depression and can be highly beneficial to get them out of their slump.
The most commonly prescribed pet med for dog depression is Fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac, which helps with both depression and anxiety.
Other popular antidepressant medications used for this condition are Amitriptyline, which adjusts serotonin levels, and Doxepin, which helps with depression in dogs, and also treats allergies and skin conditions.
Yes, these medications have potential side effects. Your vet may want to run blood tests prior to prescribing an antidepressant and also periodically check your pooch to see how their body is tolerating the medication. Of course, find out the possible side effects of the specific medication your vet recommends before making your decision.
If your dog has the blues, think about what the cause may be. There are many ways to cure depression without the use of medication. See if there’s something you can do to help, including;
If these things aren’t working, talk to your vet about possible medication to get your dog out of his funk and back on track to being the best good boy there is.
If medication is recommended by your vet, consider investing in a dog insurance policy that helps cover the cost of your pup’s medical care. It’ll help you budget for life’s unexpected expenses, plus, it’ll help Fido feel his best.
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