How to Help A Depressed Dog
There's nothing more crippling than watching your furry best friend lose interest in the things they usually love. It's even harder not to know how to help your depressed dog. Depression in canines is said to be very similar to what humans experience. However, unlike humans, it can be challenging to pinpoint precisely what is causing the depression since they can't voice their pain to us.
Some stories seem more obvious, such as a dog suddenly shutting down and sleeping all day in the back of a closet after an animal companion passes. Others aren’t quite as straightforward, where dog owners might notice “moping” or “mood changes." Before concluding that your pup is suffering from depression, let's dig a bit deeper.
Common Signs of A Depressed Dog
- Lethargy (Sleeping all of the time)
- Change in character
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive Paw Licking
- Avoidance & Hiding
If you have seen these characteristics in your dog, the first step is to go to the vet because they could also be injured or ill. If you've seen the vet and they aren't able to detect anything "wrong," it's likely your pup has the doggy blues.
Here are tips to lift your pet's spirits and help them cope with dog depression.
Tip 1: Motivate Your Dog With Positive Reinforcements
Try to engage in fun activities with your dog that stimulates their minds, fun tricks, or general training. Take some time to bond with your dog. If your dog shows positive, happy behavior, reward them with a treat or extra love. The goal is to form them to associate rewards with a positive response. This should help get them out of their funk. Keep in mind that it might be frustrating if your dog doesn't want to participate in activities during this time. Animals are susceptible to our energy, so try to stay in a calm, happy mood when around them.
Tip 2: Increase Cuddle Time After Play
It's natural for us to want to comfort our pup when they seem sad. However, if you do this too much while they're depressed, you could be encouraging negative behavior. It's essential to increase cuddle time (if that's possible), but make sure they're working with you. Similar to the first tip, the goal is for your dog to associate cuddle time with a positive, happy attitude.
Tip 3: Play Relaxing Music
"Hey Alexa, play relax, my dog music." Not only will soft, calming tunes relax your doggo, but it will also help ease your mind!
Tip 4: Make Sure You're Happy
Our pets communicate with us through energy. So if you're not feeling your best, it's likely your dog will feel this too. Make sure you get enough self-care in so this positive energy will rub off on your furry best friend.
Tip 5: Fill the void
If your dog is depressed about losing a companion animal, you may be able to help fill the void by getting another companion animal. Of course, you should only do this if it makes sense for your situation. And a companion animal will never replace the one you lost, not even for your dog. However, it may provide a distraction, and eventually, a new bond that can help make your dog feel better.
Tip 6: Natural Herbal Remedies
Similar to humans, herbal remedies have been scientifically proven to affect dogs. The lavender scent is calming, and peppermint is a pick-me-up.
Try mixing a few drops of lavender and peppermint essential with water in an empty spray bottle. Subtly mist this fragrance around your house.
Before you buy anything, be sure to discuss with a vet. Certain herbs that are safe for humans might be dangerous for dogs. Your pet shouldn't even sniff them, let alone drink or eat them.
Tip 7: Consider A Prescription to Treat A Depressed Dog
Some people choose prescription medicine over the herbal route for dog depression, and that's okay. You should discuss options with your veterinarian to make sure you're doing what's best for your pet.
Are Depression Medications Safe For Dogs?
The truth is, depression in dogs can lead to anxiety-induced behaviors like being destructive and even hurting themselves. A lot of antidepressants for dogs are prescribed to help treat various underlying anxieties that can lead to dangerous behavior problems. And we aren't talking about the kind of anxiety a dog experiences during the fourth of July firework show.
We're talking about complex problems like, a dog who repeatedly attacked his tail because of his severe anxiety until he had to go to an emergency vet clinic to repair the damages.
A veterinarian may prescribe medications to help prevent such pets from hurting themselves. Anti-depressants are a short term solution to help reduce their anxiety levels long enough to allow them to learn new behavior patterns.
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