Depression, in a nutshell, is the feeling of being sad and/or lonely that may have been caused by different circumstances in our lives. And we all do experience this being humans as we are. But did you know that this also happens to our pet and best friend? Yes, indeed, dogs also may have fits of depression.
First, we have to understand that dogs are pack animals. They have a need for belonging and we have to assure them of such. Sudden change in their lives can cause depression. They have feelings like us. Unfortunately, they cannot freely express what they truly feel since they cannot talk. Being a concerned owner or caregiver, we should take a look at what is really going on to learn how to interpret what they are trying to tell us through their actions.
Before depression sets in, we have to remember that it is caused by one or more of the following factors which cannot be ignored. It goes without saying that grief ranks first, like the death of an owner or the passing of a lifelong companion.
Losing someone you love who you spent several years with is really painful and it brings about a great a deal of depression. Any kind of change in the household also upsets them. Examples of this are the birth of a new baby or having a new pet being given lesser attention to what he had been used to. Even moving to a new house or location can cause depression in dogs. Having a different routine such as no longer going for walks or shortened playtime likewise makes an impact.
And here are the warning signs that you may want to watch out for:
Loss of interest in the usual activities. If he used to wag his tail and now points downward or keeps it in between his legs, something may be bothering him. Dogs enjoy long walks and they have a great time playing.
Loss of appetite. Dogs always look forward to their mealtime. If he sniffs his bowl of dog food first, tastes it, eats only half or even worse, none of it and decides to walk away, you should take a closer look.
Excessive paw licking or destructive chewing of his paws. Dogs normally lick and chew their paws. But if you observe that your pooch is doing it more than usual, your dog may be depressed.
Hiding away or withdrawing. Dogs love to be in the company of those they love and have affection for. So, if he suddenly turns away or would rather be alone and will not respond the way he used to when called upon, it is time to find out what is really going on.
Anger or irritability. When your dog surprisingly barks for no reason at all or growls at you when you start to touch or cuddle him, this may also be a sign that he is depressed. The worst thing that he can do is bite.
Sleep changes. Dogs spend a lot of time sleeping but if he further sleeps when you walk in the door after leaving him almost the entire day that is another story. It may also be the other way around. If he is having difficulty to doze off and he whines or howls in between his sleep, you have to really stop and try to understand what he is trying to tell you.
Please look for a behaviourist if your dog is suffering from depression so that you can help your dog become happy again. Please get in touch via our contact form to learn more. Bark & Birch can help!