As pet owners – we know that our dogs can experience and express a great range of emotions. It’s particularly easy to tell when our dogs are happy or excited – but what if they’re sad or in pain?
Just like humans – dogs too can experience a form of depression and it’s more common than you would think. In fact, according to British newspaper The Telegraph, a study found that 1 in 4 dogs suffered from some form of the affliction.
Fortunately, there are easy ways to recognize and treat your dog who might be feeling a bit low.
Six Causes of Canine Depression
- Loss of a Companion – It’s no secret that dogs have an overwhelmingly large capability for love. It can be traumatic if they lose an animal companion or human companion.
- Weather or Seasonal Changes – Humans are known to experience depression during dark, cold blustery months. So do dogs!
- A Depressed Owner – Dogs often adopt and absorb the emotional state of their owner. If you suffer from depression it may affect your dog. Even more alarming – an owner’s depression might lead to neglect of the dog.
- Medical Problems or Pain – It’s our responsibility as pet owners to be aware of our dog’s health. A change in behavior can indicate a larger problem. If there is a sudden change or shift in mood – it can mean something is physically wrong.
- Recent Major Changes – Again, just as humans do, dogs can suffer anxiety and depression if their daily routines are significantly altered. Whether it’s a new baby in the house, a move to a different home or even a stay-at-home owner taking a job – all of these things can have an effect on your dog’s mood and behavior.
- Old Age – Dogs can sense their mortality just as humans do. They can sense the end of their lives coming near and settle into a depression.
Luckily – there are ways to combat these signs and symptoms. They might even be easier than you think. Keep reading for ways to leading them to a healthier and happier life!
Six Ways to Treat Canine Depression
- Rewards for Positive Behavior – Dogs love affection, encouragement and reinforcement. They respond especially well to rewards. Give your dog a treat when showing signs of happiness. For example – if your dog loves car rides, start taking them on little rides around the neighborhood. If afterwards, they show positive behavior, give them a treat! Remember – don’t reward for negative behavior, it will defeat the purpose.
- Social Interaction – Taking your dog to the dog park or allowing them to socialize with other dogs can release endorphins which in turn will make them happier. Simple as that!
- Increased Love and Attention – It may sound obvious but showing your dog a little extra love and attention throughout the day can make a dramatic difference. It can be as simple as giving them ten minutes of undivided attention and snuggles. Be careful not to be rewarding of bad behavior.
- Exercise – Just like social interaction, exercising can release endorphins that make them feel happy and positive. Not to mention, exercise keeps them in better physical condition and boosts the immune system. Increase a daily walk to two – see if you notice a difference.
- A New Companion – If you sense your dog is depressed due to a loss of an animal companion, a new companion just might change their mood if done under the right circumstances. The moment needs to be right for both the owner and the dog.
- A Trip to the Veterinarian – As mentioned earlier, a change in mood or behavior can be a sign of something physically wrong. If a negative or sad mood persists, it’s time for a trip to the vet to ensure your dog’s physical health.
Be A Responsible And Caring Owner
It’s up to you as the dog owner to make sure you dog is happy and healthy. If your dog is showing any of these simple signs – it’s time to take action. Luckily – with these 6 tips to treating depression – your dog can quickly and easily be back on track to their happy and healthy lives.