Dogs and people have long had a close and mutually fulfilling relationship, living side by side and often being described “best friends” but how much do we really understand about our canine companions?Despite our close bond we lack the ability to communicate directly with our furry friends and have to try to understand their health, both physical and mental, through cues that they give us and if we are not in tune these can be missed or misinterpreted.
Like humans, dogs can become depressed but unlike humans they can’t easily verbalise how they feel and in order to get help they rely solely on a swift and correct diagnoses from their human family members.
Depression in dogs can manifest in various ways, many similar to signs of depression in humans and if any of the following changes are noticed you should keep a close eye on your dogs behaviour.
* Becoming Withdrawn– If your dog is suffering from depression he may interact less with his canine companions or members of the family. He also may ignore favourite toys and choose to sleep in an enclosed quiet place that is away from the family or other pets.
* Becoming Inactive – If your dog is suffering from depression he may choose to lie down either on his bed or tucked away and stare into space. He may ignore an open garden door and show no interest in donning his favourite dog head collar to go for a walk.
* Change in sleep habits– If your dog is sleeping for longer periods of time especially when you are home this could be a sign of depression, as could becoming restless and unable to sleep. Any prolonged change in sleeping habits should be closely monitored.
*Changes in appetite-A dog who’s appetite changes drastically can be suffering from depression, depressed dogs tend to lose their appetite and lose weight, evidence of this should be fairly obvious early on in the case of single dogs but if you have more than one you may not initially notice that one is eating less as the other may hoover up the excess. Dogs who are suffering with depression can occasionally overeat for comfort and gain weight so any sudden changes in weight or appetite should be investigated.Sometimes there is a very clear reason that a dog may be suffering with depression. The loss of a companion, either human or canine, an upheaval such as a house move or family members moving out even the children returning to school after a summer break or a previously at home owner starting a new job can trigger a depressive episode in your dog.
If your dog is exhibiting depressive behaviours and you have an idea of a reason try to make adjustments to ease your dogs discomfort, If there has been a change that means your dog is becoming depressed due to spending more time alone in the day make the effort to go out for a walk and play a favourite ball game before you leave and when you return.
Some owners are keen on leaving a radio playing to provide some background noise and “treat ball” typed toys that provide your dog a puzzle to solve that rewards them with a treat this can occupy your dog and provide a great distraction. If your dog has lost a canine companion and it is appropriate to the family and remaining pets you may consider getting another dog, although an elderly dog who has just lost a dog of a similar age may not appreciate a hyperactive new puppy.
Be careful not to lavish too much attention on your dog or offer treats while they are exhibiting “moping” behaviour in an attempt to cheer them up as this can reinforce the behaviour and make the situation worse. Reward and praise them when they are behaving more like their old-selves.
While all of these conditions point to depression they can also be signs of other, physical illnesses that need investigating. If you have tried to coax your dog out of their new mood or behaviours and it hasn’t worked, consult your vet who can thoroughly examine your dog and run any blood-work necessary.
Here at Gencon, home of the dog head collar we are always happy to help with any of your pet queries.