How To Spot, And Treat, Canine Depression

Feb 23, 2016 By Jake Brannon

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world, affecting an estimated 350 million people. People of all ages and backgrounds suffer from it, including young children and the elderly. 

But humans aren't the only ones who suffer from depression. A recent study from The Telegraph found that 25 percent of dogs suffer from depression. Any pet owner knows that animals are capable of experiencing a wide range of emotions, many of which can be beneficial or detrimental to their overall health.

Here, we'll share the six most common reasons why dogs suffer from depression and six great ways you can treat it. You'll find that many of the causes/treatments apply to humans as well. Depression is difficult, to say the least, but we and our furry friends can get through it together.

1. Medical Issues, Pain or Discomfort


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Just like humans, it's easy for dogs to start feeling down when they aren't feeling good in other areas. Anything from a sore foot to an upset stomach can have a big impact on our dog's mood. It's up to us to pay attention to our dog's behavior and take note when things seem off. Take them to see a veterinarian and find out whether or not their depression is linked to a different medical condition that can be treated.

2. Big Changes


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Have you ever moved to a new city and felt "off" while you spent time getting used to your new surroundings. Dogs need time to adjust to major changes in their lives as well. Introducing a new person into the house, like a baby, can trigger depression in dogs, but it can even be something as small as a schedule change that makes it so you don't see them as often.

3. Losing A Companion


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Dogs, the loving creatures that they are, struggle to deal with the loss of someone they loved. "The two most common triggers of severe dog depression are the loss of a companion animal or the loss of an owner," says WebMD.

4. An Owner Who's Depressed


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Many people like to joke that dogs and their owners have the same personality, but there's actually a lot of truth to this. Dogs have a tendency to mimic their owners’ emotions, making them susceptible to depression when they're suffering from it themselves.

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5. Severe Weather And Changes In The Seasons


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When it gets cold outside during the winter months, we often experience lethargy and changes in mood from being cooped up inside all day. A dog's mood can also be affected by changes in the seasons, or even severe thunderstorms which are known to cause anxiety in many of our furry friends. When this happens, do your best to comfort your dog and wait until the weather gets better.

6. Getting Older


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Growing older means becoming aware that you won't be alive forever. Humans are known for wrestling with thoughts about their own mortality, but dogs also experience fear and awareness that their life is coming to an end. It may also be the fact that their mobility and energy diminish as they grow older, making it more difficult for them to do what they love to do.

Now that you know what's causing your dog's depression, it's time to help treat it! Here are six great ways to make your furry friend feel happier.

1. Exercise


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You've probably heard about how physical activity releases endorphins that boost our mood. Unsurprisingly, they do the same thing for canines. Our physical and mental health are closely linked, so remember to make sure your pet is getting enough exercise each week.

2. Rewards


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We all use treats to reward our dogs for tricks and good behavior, but did you know that you can use them to reward a good mood? Whenever your dog seems to be at their happiest, reward them with a treat to encourage them to be happier in the future.

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3. New Friends


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DJ Khaled was wrong when he said "no new friends." Introducing your dog to new companions is an important part of keeping them happy and healthy. Interacting with friends keeps our minds active and gives us someone to look forward to spending time with.

4. The Dog Park


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While not for every dog, the dog park is a great place for your dog to meet other pups who they can play with in the future. It also gets them a great deal of exercise, making the dog park a jackpot of positive stimuli for your pet.

5. An Extra Dose Of Love


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Cats may be fine without us for hours on end, but dogs need to be reminded how much we love them. This is especially important for those of us who leave our dogs home alone while we go to work. Remember to take time to play, snuggle and share your happiness with them.

6. Visit The Vet


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If depression persists, a trip to the vet is the most logical next step. Like we said before, depression can be a warning flag for something else wrong with your dog.

H/T: LittleThings

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