Just like humans, dogs also get depressed sometimes. Although they do not have the same mental capacity as humans, they actually experience bouts of depression. Depression in dogs can easily be noticed from symptoms like reduced energy or some other strange change in your dog’s behaviour. Although this may be a symptom of something else, you shouldn’t factor out depression.
This is especially applicable if your dog is experiencing anything that could serve as an inducement. Some of the causes of depression may include moving into an unfamiliar environment or loss of a companion pet or owner, physical illness, a fear or phobia or even you. Dogs may easily pick up on human emotions so they may pick up on a feeling of constant sadness, grief or depression on your part.
In a case of physical illness, this can be easily avoided provided that you are intuitive to changes in your dog’s behaviour. Also, you should ensure that your dog’s hygiene is top-notch to avoid cases of pest infestation such as fleas. Recognizing fleas and flea eggs is essential to prevent your dog from getting infected and in turn, preventing illness, therefore, preventing depression.
However, if you have noticed that your dog is appears depressed, here are some ways to help.
Help Them Adjust to New Changes
Just like humans, dogs may also have a hard time adjusting to drastic changes in their lives. For instance, moving to a new location which involves uprooting your dog from everything he is used to and exposing him to something new altogether could result in depression.
The loss of a former owner or getting new people could also cause a dog to show signs of depression. A great way to bring them out of this is to provide them with a stable routine that would help them adjust to all of the new changes.
Knowing exactly when they would eat or when you would take them on walks helps them easily get used to their new circumstances. Also, creating a schedule mandates that you stick to it if you want them to get better quickly.
Keep them Busy and Active
Ensuring that your dog is active most of the time is a great way to bring him out of depression. An active dog, who is having fun would regain his spirits a lot easier than one who is simply lazing around or lying down in a corner.
Provided that your dog doesn’t have any health issues, you could take them outside for a run or a walk. Given the fresh air and beautiful surroundings, your dog’s high spirits would be restored in no time.
A dog park where they get to associate with other dogs is a great option too and your dog has other companion dogs to play with. Also, you should try to keep them occupied indoors as well. Games are a great way to do this and you would definitely have a great time too.
Camping with your dog is one more activity that will provide natural relief for many mental ailments your dog may have. It is just not that natural for them to spend time solely at home or in the city. Dogs have close wild relatives and even wild subspecies so their nature and instincts are somewhat accentuated in their life. Packing up some nice amount of food, some treats for morale, camping gear and your 4 legged friends and going on a micro-trip to nature may be the best thing you can do!
Ensure That They Are Not Lonely
More often than not, depression and loneliness are very synonymous. So you need to try as much as possible to ensure that your dog gets constant love, care, and attention. Also, you need to know your pooch’s nature so that you know what is best for them.
For instance, if your pet doesn’t do well alone and you work long hours, they may get depressed very easily. So making plans for someone else to come in and keep your pet company is a suitable solution for this.
This way, your dog gets constant care with or without your presence. You could also consider a doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker.
Reward Good Behavior and Understand Disobedience
As much as possible, reward your pet when he does something right. This would cheer them up considerably and would definitely set them on the track to getting better. Similarly, you need to understand when your dog doesn’t obey your command or misbehaves.
For instance, after training your pooch to relieve himself outside of the house and then he does it inside, do not be in a hurry to punish or chastise.
You should understand that it is just as a result of depression that it is going through. Instead, you should show completely understanding and a lot more love and care.
If all other methods do not work, then you might have to consider providing your dog with medications. Medications used for depression in dogs are the same as those used in humans – Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
Another drug that is used for treating separation anxiety is Clomicalm. However, you need to ensure that you have exhausted every other avenue before opting for drugs. Behaviour modification and environmental enrichment need to, first of all, be off the table before drugs come in.
The drugs have been shown to become effective in about two months and after about 6 to 12 months, the dogs could get well enough to be taken off the drugs. Note that before you give your dog any drugs, contact a veterinary doctor first.
Depression in dogs should be taken as seriously as depression in humans. If you notice any signs of depression in your pet, you should immediately take measures to ensure that it doesn’t get any worse and then closely monitor your dog’s progress.