Category Archives: depression in dogs

Alleviating Your Dog’s Back-to-School Blues

By Tamara McRill

It can be cute watching your dog tug on backpacks and careening for the door once school’s out, but the sadness some dogs feel in the fall is no laughing matter. The “Dog Days of Summer” could stand for the glorious months pets spend playing and bonding with their youngest owners, but all of the fun winds down in August. The kidlets go back to school and their four-legged best friends are left bereft of company for the majority of the day.

The feelings depressed dogs can go through at this time are very real, and they will need your help to minimize its impact. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do just that.

Before School Starts

In the weeks before school starts, you can be working on transitioning your pet to his new fall routine. Gradually shift play, exercise and meal times to the times these will occur when school is in session. Don’t forget to also work on a new potty schedule.

It can be hard to lessen contact between pet and child during the times they would normally be in school, but try. If your dog will be spending more time outside or in a certain room while your child is in class, now would be a good time to get her used to it.

If your child is going off to college and is your pet’s primary companion, now is also the time for you – or whomever will be taking over – to start taking a larger role in their care.

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Can You Tell if Your Dog is Depressed?

By Linda Cole

Dogs can get down in the dumps just like we can. Depression can be a serious and life threatening condition if it’s not recognized and treated. However, dogs can’t tell us when they don’t feel right, so the only way we can tell if something is wrong is by observing how they act.

A dog’s personality can be just as complicated as their owner’s. Just like us, dogs have their own favorite areas of the home where they feel secure and comfortable. If that area is an out of the way spot, like under the bed or in a closet, it can be misread as the dog hiding. A depressed dog may hide, but he could also just want a quiet place to relax. There are other symptoms to look for that are better indicators of depression.

Symptoms of depression in dogs

Depression works much the same with a pet as it does for us. There’s an apparent lack of interest in food and sometimes even water. If your dog misses one or two of his CANIDAE meals, there’s no cause for concern as long as he’s still drinking water. But if his lack of appetite lasts longer than a 24 hour period, and he isn’t drinking water, you should have your vet check him out to make sure there’s not a medical problem or injury that’s causing him to not want to eat or drink. Sometimes a depressed dog may go the other way and overeat.

Besides loss of appetite, other symptoms to watch out for can include no energy (lethargy) in a normally active dog or sleeping more than usual. A depressed dog may appear to be easily startled by a noise or another pet or person in the same room. A dog that wants to be left alone, won’t move his head to look at you when you call his name, or paces from one room to another and can’t seem to find any place where he’s comfortable, is showing symptoms of depression. Your dog may be depressed if he constantly follows you around the house or yard but doesn’t want to interact with you, especially if he always has in the past.

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Do Our Emotions Affect Our Pets?

By Julia Williams

I recently saw a TV commercial that featured a depressed man whose dog sat there looking very sad because his owner was not giving him any attention. An internet search revealed it was part of the “Depression Hurts” campaign for the anti-depressant Cymbalta. This ad asks, “Who does depression hurt? Everyone.” Apparently, this includes our pets. Delving further on Google, I found this interesting post on Twitter: “Is it just me, or does the Cymbalta commercial kind of guilt you into taking depression meds so your dog won’t be sad for you anymore?”

This got me to thinking about human emotions, and pondering whether we, as pet owners, pass our moods and feelings on to our pets. Could a depressed owner create a depressed dog? Could the pet of a stressed out, anxious, angry, manic or overly fearful owner begin to feel the same way? In contrast, would the pet of a cheerful, optimistic, happy-go-lucky human be just like them?

I suppose one first has to ask, do pets have emotions? Some people, especially scientific types and those who are not “pet people,” say no. They believe emotions exist only in humans. However, most pet owners tend to disagree, because they see proof that animals have emotions every day. Responsible pet owners who spend quality time with their animal companions, can tell what kind of mood they are in by reading their body language and facial expressions. We know whether our pets are eager or fearful, happy or sad, mad or content. What are those then, if not emotions?

Every pet owner likely has no shortage of anecdotal evidence of their dog or cat picking up on their emotional state. We see firsthand just how sensitive animals are to our moods, and we see them react accordingly. When I am sad and crying, my cats all crowd around me. They head-butt my hands and face, try other things to get my attention, and stick to me like glue if I am in bed. It’s as if they are saying, “We know you are hurting, how can we make it better?”

I also know that when I am in high spirits, my cats seem happier too. Rocky will sometimes meet me at the door when I come home. After I pick him up, hug him exuberantly and tell him how glad I am to see him, he then prances around the kitchen like he’s king of the castle. Dogs are often more aggressive to people who fear them. Much like children will do when their parents fight, dogs and cats slink away to hide or sulk when their owners are arguing.

Nonetheless, it can be hard to convince science-minded individuals that animals have emotions, primarily because it’s nearly impossible to measure feelings. While it may be crystal clear to a pet owner that their dog or cat has as a full spectrum of emotions, science can’t quantify them – yet. As such, it’s easy to discount the role that emotions play in pets.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it seems silly to believe that the ability to sense mood occurred for the first and only time in the human animal. Yet even if we believe that animals have emotions and can sense our moods, does that mean we automatically transfer our feelings to our pets? If a person is constantly agitated or angry, I am positive this would negatively affect their pet’s emotional state. But is the pet taking on those emotions, or are they merely reacting to them? What do you think?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Deal With Depression in Dogs

By Ruthie Bently

Do dogs get depressed? Yes, just like humans, dogs can suffer from bouts of depression. When my AmStaff Nimber passed, his canine companion Katie went into a depression and began misbehaving. I realized that Katie was grieving and began looking for another AmStaff to add to our family, which solved the problem. While this helped in my situation, it isn’t for everyone.

Several other things can lead to depression in dogs. It can be something as simple as the weather or changes in barometric pressure. Other causes of depression in dogs can be the loss of a close companion, either human or canine. If you begin working longer hours and cannot spend as much time with your dog as you used to, or if you and your dog used to meet a dog regularly for a play date and don’t anymore, that could bring on depression. To counteract this, try socializing with your dog more at the dog park, show more attention and affection, and try to schedule more time for your dog. If this isn’t possible, look for a doggie day care where you can leave them for a play date, or hire a dog walker to give them more daily activity. If you can’t take your dog with you on vacation, find a kennel that gives your dog extra exercise or allows them to play with other dogs so they aren’t in a crate all day.

Moving to a new house can cause depression in dogs, because your dog may be unsure of their place in these new surroundings. Make sure when you move that you take along all their current supplies (bowls, beds, toys and crate). Even if their things don’t go with the new color scheme, keep using them until your dog gets acclimated to the new house and neighborhood, and feels comfortable there. Once they feel comfortable in the new house you can start replacing their old things with new ones.

Separation anxiety and family additions can cause depression too. If you suspect your dog may be depressed, try to ease them into a new situation. If you are pregnant, try to get your dog used to the idea before the baby comes home. If you are getting a new pet, consider introducing your dog to it on neutral territory to lessen the chance of any depression.

If you do all these things and your dog is still acting depressed, it’s a good idea to see your vet to make sure the problem isn’t caused by something physical. Some illnesses can lead to depression in dogs, or they could have a chemical imbalance. They could also have a hormonal imbalance like hyperthyroidism, which might lead to depression.

Some of the symptoms of dog depression are being unresponsive when you call them, excessive sleeping or lethargy, loss of interest in drinking water and a lack of appetite or weight loss. Their behavior may change and become aggressive or anxious. If you suspect your dog has any of these symptoms consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. If these symptoms persist for any length of time they can become life threatening.

If you suspect your dog is depressed, review any changes you’ve been made recently in their environment or routine. Has their feeding, walking or playtime schedule changed? Is it something that can be changed back? Our dogs are so sensitive to their surroundings; they can tell when we are under the weather even before we know it, and may empathize with us.

There are several medicines vets use to treat canine depression, but they’re usually a last resort. Phenobarbital is an anti-seizure medication that’s sometimes used for canine depression. It can cause kidney and liver damage, so any dog on phenobarbital needs regular blood tests. Prozac, while proven to have good results, has side effects. Your dog may be less friendly, less active and their personality may change. Phenobarbital and Prozac are only available by prescription from your vet.

There are holistic remedies, flower essences and several herbs that have been used to treat depression in dogs. While they may have no side effects, each dog’s reaction to these can be different, and many veterinarians are reluctant to use them in the treatment of canine depression. I would suggest you consult your regular veterinarian and ask to be referred to a homeopathic veterinarian if you wish to explore these treatment options. There are even therapists you can take your dog to, and they may use aromatherapy or music to help improve your dog’s mood. As with any other health issue concerning your dog, see your vet before making any changes that involve medicine or alternative therapies.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.