Even though when most people hear the word “dog” they think of a happy, furry, playmate; depression in dogs has been an accepted veterinary fact since around 2002. All owners have noticed that their dog’s level of energy drops as they transition from puppy to full fledged dog, but a sharp decline in a dog’s energy is one sign of depression in a dog. Other signs of dog depression are a decline in appetite and increasing lethargy.
If your dog is displaying these symptoms a trip to the vet is in order. A dog displaying all the symptoms of depression may not actually be depressed, but these signs warrant a trip to the vet because they can also be indicators of various canine medical problems. Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog using the process of elimination (also called a diagnosis of exclusion). What this means is that your veterinarian will perform a series of tests and blood work to determine if your dog’s lethargy, drop in appetite, and decrease in playful activities are due to mental or physical distress.
The most common causes of depression in dogs are the loss of their owner or the loss of the death of a dog playmate. Dogs often respond to the emotions of those around them, therefore feelings of grief around your dog may trigger depression. A dog who has just lost their owner is also likely to get depressed due to stress caused by losing their favorite playmate.A stressful move or change in domestic dynamic may also cause depression in dogs.
If your dog has been diagnosed with depression, treatment for their illness is similar to treatment for depression in humans. Stressful environments can be improved through use of Dog Appeasing Pheromone or the creation of a relaxing, safe place just for your dog in your home. Increased exercise or more mentally engaging exercise have also shown to banish depression in dogs.
Veterinarians may diagnose medication in extreme cases of depression, but existing medications will mostly just increase a pet’s appetite. We here at Swifto are always willing to offer a bright, attentive new dog walker to help owners of depressed dogs out during the day.