Dogs - much like their owners - can become anxious or depressed now and again. If your canine companion is showing signs of anxiety or depression there are strategies you can try to help your dog to feel better. Our Richmond vets explain.
Dog Anxiety & Depression
Is your canine companion behaving in a way that leads you to believe that your dog may be anxious or depressed? Our Richmond vets often see dogs suffering from anxiety and depression due to a host of different reasons. If you suspect that your pup is feeling blue a trip to your vet is in order to identify whether the symptoms you are seeing are caused by depression, anxiety, or something else.
Is my dog depressed?
If your dog is suffering from depression you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- No interest in playing with people or toys
- "Sad" expression
- Avoiding you or hiding
- Growling, howling or aggression
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of appetite
- Not sleeping
Is my dog suffering from anxiety?
Anxiety leads to behaviors that are very different from those caused by depression. Below are some of the most common signs of anxiety in dogs.
- Destructive behaviors such as chewing
- Obsessive paw licking
- Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
- Panting for no reason
- Pacing aimlessly
- Whimpering, trembling, or whining
What causes dogs to become depressed or anxious?
Our four-legged friends are creatures of habit that are happiest when there are steady routines in their lives. Any major life changes or distressing events can have a significant impact on their emotions.
Although more obvious events such as their owner’s death or prolonged absence can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression in dogs, other less extreme events such as a move to a new home, injury or illness, change in routine, or even a new roommate could be the cause of your pup's gloomy demeanor.
How can I make my dog feel better?
Anxious or depressed dogs generally benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people) and a consistent routine including lots of physical activity.
Here are a few more tips on how to help you to reduce your dog's depression or anxiety:
See Your Vet
- Some symptoms of depression and anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious or depressed is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs may recover from depression with just a little extra love and attention from their pet parent, your veterinarian can provide medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.
Keep Your Dog's Body & Mind Active
- Boredom can often lead our furry friends to become anxious or depressed. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy in order to help quell your dog's anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your pup's body and mind active while you're out of the house.
- Our dogs are social creatures that love to be around people and other animals. If your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression you may want to consider getting a companion animal for your pup or take your lonely pooch to the dog park, group classes or doggie daycare for additional social interaction.
Show Your Furry Friend Lots of Love & Patience
- Of course, our pets need lots of love and patience in order to feel safe and contented - even more so when they are prone to feeling depressed or anxious. By giving your dog some extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues and restore your pup's sense of fun and happiness.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.