October 18, 2018 Doctor Debra Primovich – DVM
At some point in the dog's life, the owners may ask the question: "Is my dog depressed?" In the end, how do you actually know? This is the time when veterinarians and pet owners truly want their dogs to talk. We will focus this article on what you can do at home to help your depressed dog.
Signs that your dog is depressed
There are many signs of depression in dogs. Symptoms of depression in dogs can vary from dog to dog. Symptoms may include avoiding family activities, playing less and eating more or less. Learn more about the symptoms of depression in dogs from this article: What are the symptoms of depression in dogs?
It is very difficult to make a generalization about how a particular breed will behave, dogs of the same breed, line of breed or even litter.
Is my dog depressed? 6 points to consider when developing a plan
If you have a dog that you think is depressed, there are several options for help. Before you act, think about his lifestyle, abilities and personality, as well as what actually moves him.
Here are some important points to consider before developing a plan to help your dog:
- Day of lifeWhen considering solutions, think about what your dog's day looks like. Is he in the box for hours? Does he get daily exercise? Is it fed at the same time every day? His caress? Does he feel loved? Is there a consistency in what is expected of each family member? Is your dog mentally stimulated or bored? Does your dog play with other dogs?
- Think … "Why is your dog depressed?" When developing a plan to help your dog, it is important to consider the reason or reasons why you think your dog is depressed. Is your dog in a new house? Has anyone died near your dog? Has another dog died in the house? Did the child go to college or go to school? Was there a divorce? What has changed in your dog's environment? It is important to consider the root cause, since you believe that the treatment will work best. Find out more about common causes of depressed dogs. Go to Canine Depression: How to Discover it and Treat it.
- Rate your capabilities. Evaluate your time, environment, budget and opportunities. If you think your dog needs more time to play, and you live in a small apartment in the city, or you work long hours, dog walking or dog day care can be a great way to stimulate your dog.
- Assess your dog's health. Considering the strategy of helping your dog, consider its health. Does your dog have health problems such as congestive heart failure or arthritis? Are there any health problems that may affect your game or exercise plan? For example, if your dog is older with health problems, a daily big run in a dog park will not be a good solution. Small frequent walks or intellectual toys can be a good option. Consider a plan that works for your dog's functionality and abilities.
- See what your dog likes. Does your dog love chewing bones? Does your dog like chasing frisbee? Look at the age, breed and interests of your dog to think about what will give her the greatest encouragement and pleasure. Or does your dog like puzzle toys where they need to figure out how to give pleasure? Some dogs like to be cleaned and cared for, while others do not. For example, if you have a small dog that does not bring, more time in the park for dogs playing the ball will not work. Think about what your dog likes, and develop a plan to give her more time to do what he likes most.
- Personality problems. Some dogs have more people-dogs (that is, they love people more than dogs), some dogs have more dogs (they like other dogs more than people), and other dogs love to communicate with people and other dogs equally. This is important to consider when evaluating what will work best to help your dog. For example, if your dog quarrels with other dogs, then visiting a dog park or recording it for dog day care with other dogs would not be a good idea if you are trying to get more playing time with the dog. On the other hand, if your dog seems happy playing with other dogs, then this can be a magic ticket.
Is my dog depressed? Tips to help your dog
The following are things you can do at home to help a depressed dog. Based on the above, consider the tips below to see what is best for your dog.
- Keep the routine – Some dogs are depressed and have a change in their lives. Someone is dying, leaving or maybe this is a completely new house. If possible, keep your dog's mode as consistent as possible. For example, if your dog always went for a morning walk and suddenly you returned to work and you can’t do it, consider having a neighbor drive it away on this walk. If you move to a new home, everything may be in chaos. Keep the same routine of your dog, the same. Feed the same food at the same time, etc., as much as possible.
- Keep some things the same – If your dog is re-equipped, keep as much as possible from your previous home. A client recently adopted his mom's dog when his mom died. We discussed a plan to create a better transition, which included the use of a dog’s usual bed, collar, leash, nursery, blankets, food, and bowls. After the dog acclimatizes in the new house, you can gradually change some things a little bit. This is not always possible, but when it is possible, it can be useful.
- Play – One of the best things for depression is playing time. Some depressed dogs are bored and are simply not stimulated enough. If your dog is healthy, include it in the game. Buy some toys. Learn more about what your dogs play to help you choose the best toys for him.
- Exercise – A tired dog is often a happy dog. Like children, many dogs need to stretch their legs and run until they wear out! If your dog is healthy, increasing your dog's exercise can help treat a depressed dog.
- Spend time “Some of the happiest times dogs spend with their master are just being together.” It can be watching TV, petting, rubbing the abdomen, or just sitting together while you are reading a book.
- Talk to your dog – Some dogs like it when you talk to them. Simple things like talking to a dog in a voice that makes your dog wag its tail and feel special is enough to make him happy and can help with a depressed dog.
- Predictable feeding schedule – Some dogs are food motivated. They want to know when their next meal will come. Providing a predictable feeding schedule may allow some dogs to feel more comfortable and less depressed.
- Clear connection – Having a clear set of guidelines for your dog, the same for all family members, it is important for dogs to understand what is expected of them. Inconsistency can cause stress and cause depression. For example, if some family members allow a dog to get up on the sofa when they are watching TV, while others do not, this causes conflict. Another example is someone in the house who encourages his dog to jump on them, while others articulate to them for the same thing. Try to be consistent so that your dog knows what is expected of them.
- Consider the Playmate – Getting another dog is a great solution for dog depression for some dogs. Other dogs may hate the idea of another dog, but some dogs really love it. If you do not want to make a full adoption, consider talking to a local rescue team and raising a dog. This allows you to see how your dog reacts to a new dog, and determine if it helps with depression before making a full commitment to adopt. Learn more about how to introduce a new dog.
In a sense, treatment of depressed dogs is really aimed at optimizing the lifestyle. It provides optimal exercise opportunities, predictable feeding schedules, a clear transfer of expectations and play time.