Dog Depression is Real, experts say.
Dogs are very emotionally varied animals experiencing a range of emotions as complex as a 2 or 3 year old child. Although, depression is not typical of a child, it is not uncommon among dogs. It could be a change of setting, or that you’ve moved into a new house that triggered it. Or it could be that the newest addition to the family, a baby perhaps, has changed the social dynamic of the family. You may notice that out of nowhere, your dog is suddenly acting strange, and perhaps a bit lazier than usual, or maybe even restless. All of these could be signs your dog is depressed. In fact, symptoms of depression in dogs are very similar to those in humans.
Here are a few signs of Dog Depression
Sudden Loss of Appetite
When dogs undergo a traumatic experience in their lives, a lot of times their reaction will be a sudden loss of appetite. They’ll lose interest in their food, or in their drinking water. However, I must add that it is important to not confuse dog depression with an actual ailment or disease. Other illnesses could also result in loss of appetite. Therefore I recommend that you take your dog to the veterinarian to correctly diagnose the issue. One way to quickly find out is by trying to peak your dog’s interest in food, by tempting them with something extremely flavorful to them, like chicken or beef broth. If suddenly, their appetite returns, then you know that they’re probably just acting out their depression by a lack of interest in their regular food.
Prolonged Sleeping & Lethargy
In this case, it is also very important to correctly diagnose the problem. As stated before, lethargy and extreme sleeping could be signs your dog is depressed, but are also common symptoms in serious dog illnesses. Lethargy, is often times accompanied by a loss of appetite, and loss of appetite continues to exacerbate the lethargy. Weakness from a lack of appetite begets the sleeping and lethargy. In this case it is important to ensure that your dog is eating well and drinking lots of fluids. Introducing flavorful foods, and adding a bit of chicken or beef broth to their water bowl, for example, may entice them to eat. Also, try doing things that you know your dog loves. Like going out for a car ride, or taking them out to a park. That can also trigger their thirst or hunger mechanism, and get them to snap out of their lethargy.
Indifference and lack of interest are both signs your dog is depressed. Both are a very unusual characteristic for dogs, who usually love to please their humans. Again, just like all the other symptoms on this article, indifference can be confused with lethargy, and vice versa. Lethargy is a common symptom with other more serious dog illnesses that need urgent diagnosis and treatment. I highly recommend that you consult a veterinarian if the symptom persists. Otherwise, indifference much like lethargy can be treated similarly. Entice your dog’s attention with their favorite treat or toy and get them to do something they love, or getting them excited to do something with you like playing fetch outside. The trick here is to get them to snap out of it.
Aversion, or Shyness
Sometimes dogs cope with loss, depression, or sadness much like a lot of us do. We curl up in our beds and sleep it off. If you notice that your dog is avoiding contact with you and is hiding in an unusual corner of house, you may want to first check with your vet to rule out any serious disease or injury. Otherwise, your dog may be acting out their depression by choosing to be alone while they cope. Again, here like in the other symptoms, you may want to treat them to something that you know they love. Entice them out of hiding by serving them their favorite treat, or by jingling your car keys signaling a car ride to the park. If your dog is avoiding a particular member of the family over others, then a more serious problem may be afoot.
Like in most situations, self diagnosing yourself is as dangerous as self diagnosing a member of your family. Simply put, don’t do it. If any of these symptoms persists, I implore you to seek a veterinary professional. These may all be signs your dog is depressed, but be aware that these symptoms are also shared with other serious illnesses.