How to tell if your dog is depressed
When people suffer from a mental health issue such as depression they may show signs and symptoms of the condition or be able to talk about the situation, but for our four-legged friends, it’s not that easy. Most people don’t realise that dogs can suffer from mental health issues just as much as humans can. Unfortunately, if they are suffering, they aren’t able to tell us about it, but it may be the reason for unusual behaviours. Anything can be the trigger for depression in dogs such as the loss of a group member, so watching out for the common signs of depression in dogs can alert us to any mental health concerns and enables us to upkeep their general health and wellbeing.
Watching for the warning signs
Humans and dogs have similar traits especially when it comes to behaviours. If your ‘always hungry’ pup suddenly becomes food shy and loses weight, or you have a dog that has started to overindulge and gain weight this could be a key indicator of a sad dog and a common sign of depression. Everyone knows the saying ‘it’s a dog’s life’ and whilst some dogs like to sleep a lot, if your pet is sleeping more than usual for them, this can be a sign of depression, but so can restlessness, especially if your dog is unable to get a good night sleep.
Know your dog’s behavioural traits
Our pets can become excited over the smallest things but if your dog suddenly loses interest in playtime and walks and seems uninvolved this could be a sign of low self-esteem – a less active dog is usually an unhappy dog. In addition, to soothe themselves, dogs with mental health issues may over lick or chew their paws, which is linked to psychological problems. Finally, if your pet no longer wants to interact with you and ultimately starts to avoid or even hide from you this is a major indicator of a sick dog.
If you notice that your dog is showing one or more of these signs of depression a trip to the vets is a must to rule out any injury (which can cause depression too) and undertake an examination in order to receive a diagnosis. If your dog is found to have depression, there are plenty of ways to help, from behavioural adjustment therapies to medication. Making sure to get help sooner rather than later is important, however, so don’t hold back if you think something may be amiss