If lately you have observed that your dog is most of the day lying on the sofa. He has lost the desire to play and almost does not want to eat his food. Your dog is likely depressed. Experts explain that this is possible; they even describe that depression in dogs is similar to the depression that people suffer. This article explains why dogs get depressed; how to recognize canine sadness, why dogs with depression lose the urge to eat; and what to do to help your furry friend when he’s depressed.
Dogs also get depressed
All the psychological ailments that affect people also affect the animals we live with, to a greater or lesser extent; says veterinarian Nicholas Dodman, an expert in animal behavior and author of numerous canine psychology manuals.
Experts confirm that animals have emotions; that they may experience sadness or suffer depression in the face of a sudden change in their life. For example, a recent move. Faced with this type of event, it is not strange that the dog loses the desire to play and is apathetic.
Why does depression occur in dogs?
No one doubts that situations like the loss of their beloved human or another animal companion cause behavioral changes in dogs and symptoms that we identify with depression; adds psychologist and canine behavior expert Stanley Coren.
But dogs are also sensitive to changes in their environment and routine. In the same way that a move can be a cause of bewilderment and sadness in a young child. It can also affect the dog. Even the arrival of autumn and cold can cause some seasonal depression in dogs.
But there are more reasons for a dog to get depressed. An illness or injury, animal abuse, as well as being bound for long periods of time or lacking companionship and affection, are sufficient reasons to trigger canine depression.
While it’s not surprising that a dog feels sad and in low spirits especially during periods of change, “it’s stranger to suffer from prolonged depression; it is normal for canine depression to last between a few days and several months, at most”, clarifies the veteterinario and ethologist John Ciribassi,
How to know if the dog is depressed?
The signs of canine depression are very similar to those suffered by people. The dog will be more withdrawn, less active. In addition, your eating habits may change, and you may even lose your appetite.
Sleep can also be disturbed, and the dog can spend more hours a day dozing than is usual in it. In addition, the depressed dog seems not to enjoy things as before: he may lose interest in gambling, walks. You may be insecure or irritable. It is even possible that it destroys more furniture at home, a consequence of the state of strangeness in which it is immersed.
However, these signs can also reveal that the dog suffers from some disease (such as canine arthritis) or pain, so if some of these symptoms appear, it is important to go to the veterinarian so that your furry friend is checked and rule out any other physical condition.
My dog is depressed, what do I do?
A depressed dog will appreciate a dose of care and extra affection from its beloved humans. An important guideline is to keep him busy, with proposals for canine play and activity that your dog enjoys. For example, sometimes it is enough to propose a little more exercise than usual; extend their walks so that the dog is better off or take short walks in the car every day if we know that our friend likes that, says Ciribassi.
Another factor that causes the presence of depression in dogs is that many times it is their own owners who cause sadness in their furry friends; dogs are empathetic to people’s feelings and respond to their moods. Therefore, if a person is sad, the best way to help the dog is for that person to care about oneself. If you are nervous or sad, your dog will soon know that there is something that worries you and therefore, he will also experience that worry.
The trick is to remember to reward him for the signs of happiness he shows: when the dog wacks his tail because he is happy, do not forget to comfort him with signs of affection and even with his favorite edible prizes. And on the contrary; it is important not to reinforce sad behaviors, with excessive attention when discouraged, because then our dog will believe that we are rewarding that behavior.
What if none of this works?
Then you have to go to the veterinarian to prescribe some medication against depression. But this is important: dogs should never be self-medicated, as human drugs can be very dangerous, even deadly to four-legged friends.