While dogs can’t tell you exactly what they’re going through, they can make their internal state known through their behaviors. By paying attention to our furry best friends, we can gain insight into what they are thinking and feeling.
Does your dog seem sad a lot of the time?
If your vet has ruled out other health conditions, you might have a case of doggie depression on your hands. Check out these ten symptoms and see if your beloved pup matches any of them. Having four or more should be cause to see a professional…
Here’s the scoop from our friends at Reader’s Digest:
A depressed dog won’t have the same energy levels that it used to, and its usual playtime and exercise won’t excite your pet as much. “It could be that their favorite thing in the world was to throw a tennis ball, and all of a sudden they don’t want to do that,” says Virginia-based veterinarian Katy Nelson, DVM.
Losing interest in favorite activities
Not every dog loves throwing a Frisbee or going for walks, so lack of exercise might not be the only telltale sign. The key is to notice if your dog has an unexplained behavior change or stops enjoying other activities it used to love, says Kelly Ryan, DVM, director of veterinary services at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.
Leaving food in the bowl
If your dog doesn’t show its usual eagerness for its favorite food or even loses weight, it might be experiencing depression, says Russell Hartstein, celebrity dog trainer with Fun Paw Care Los Angeles.
Sleeping more than usual
Every animal is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all number of hours of sleep that would signal dog depression. Just pay attention if your dog is spending more time in bed than usual.
Experiencing a death in the family
You’re not the only one mourning the loss of a family member or another pet—your dog needs to grieve, too, and might go through a blue period.
Spending too much time inside
Dogs need space to run around and might become sad if they haven’t been given the chance. “If you were locked indoors all the time and not exposed to the outdoors except the immediate yard and around the block, you would not be fulfilled and would be depressed,” says Hartstein.
Showing sudden aggression
A dog with depression might start tearing up the couch or growling when you touch it. “It’s not always the sad, forlorn basset hound-looking face you think of as the face of depression,” says Dr. Nelson.
Being alone in the house
Your dog probably gets lonely when you’re gone, so if your job constantly keeps you out of the house for long periods of time, your pet might stop jumping up to see you the minute you come home.
Don’t be surprised if your dog has been acting strange ever since you moved homes. Change can be tough for animals, and your dog might feel depressed while it gets used to its new environment, says Hartstein.
Animals don’t just lick themselves to get clean; sometimes they use the action to make themselves feel better. While it’s not a common symptom of dog depression, it isn’t unheard of, says Dr. Ryan.
What should you do?
Before you blame your dog’s behavior on depression, its vet will need to do a full checkup to rule out any other health issues that could be bringing your dog down, like pain or a thyroid problem.
If everything else checks out, your vet will likely recommend giving your dog more exercise, a healthier diet, and extra attention to lift your pet’s spirits.
As a last-ditch effort, a vet might prescribe one of the same depression medications humans would use, such as Prozac or Zoloft. “We don’t want all our dogs walking around on Zoloft if we don’t have to, and oftentimes we don’t need to,” says Dr. Nelson. “But if giving that little something to take the edge off helps them live a more comfortable life, there’s no shame in that game.”
Does your dog have any of these symptoms?