Does Your Dog Have The Blues?

Smiling dog








Have you ever wondered if your dog might be depressed? Many vets and pet behaviorists agree that pets have real emotions. You know when your dog is happy and excited, wagging his tail and doing the circle dance when you come home from work or if you have been away. Conversely, you know when he is sad such as after a scolding when his tail is between his legs and his head is down. So what do you look for when you suspect your pet may be depressed?

Signs and Symptoms:
-not eating
-losing weight
-not interacting with others

There are many possible causes for these symptoms and it is important that you first have your dog carefully tested by a veterinarian to be sure there is no medical reason for the symptoms. Once ruled out, other causes that can trigger depression are: loss of an owner or family member or other pet in the household; moving to a new house; adding a new pet or family member; family member who moves away, such as a student off to college; changes in routines such as a non-working owner going off to a new job and many other significant changes in your household. Dogs also respond to the emotions of their human families. If a family member is in mourning, a dog can sense this. Another side-effect of change or upheaval which can lead to depression is when your dog feels he is not getting his usual attention and play with you. This can happen when you are preoccupied with the move, loss, or change.

We all want our dogs to be happy and content. There are some things you can do if you suspect your dog is depressed. Be sure to give him some healthy attention and take him out and about for mental stimulation. Make time for his favorite game or activity several times throughout the day. If he has lost a companion, bring your dog to a dog park or let him interact with another dog. If you are ready, it might help to bring another pet into your home. Enlist other family members to help keep your dog active when you yourself are feeling down about a loss. One caution is to be careful not to reward your pet’s mood. In other words, if you are overly sympathetic, this can backfire and perpetuate the depression. Ask your vet if he thinks an anti-depressant is indicated if your dog does not seem to be responding. It could be that your dog has a chemical imbalance and needs medication to regulate his emotions.

On a positive note, dogs tend to live in the present moment. Although they may suffer from depression for a period of a few weeks or even a few months, it is not common for a dog to have long-term depression. Given the attention, care and love you can provide, a dog will likely come around. And remember, when you feel good, it rubs off on your pet.

2 Responses to Does Your Dog Have The Blues?

  1. Laura says:

    Hi, my ENGLISH IS SO BAD, so I write in Spanish…
    Por suerte mis perritos no sufren de depresión, si bien de vez en cuando se angustien cuando salimos de casa por unas horas.
    Gracias a Dios, están bien de salud y corren y juegan la mayor parte del día. No estoy segura si los mimos constantes, los permisos que les concedemos (dormir en las camas, “chupar” los platos, etc) tienen algo que ver. Lo que sí sé, es que es un placer verlos sanos y felices, no lo cambio por nada.

    • Susan Lyman says:

      Alo Lau, I translated as best as I could for our English Speaking Audience. Thank you so much for your comment. Muchas Gracias por su comentario! We are so pleased that your dogs bring you so much pleasure! They truly are a bright star in our lives.
      “Hi, my ENGLISH IS SO BAD, so I write in Spanish …
      Luckily my dogs do not suffer from depression, although occasionally become distressed when left home for a few hours.
      Thank God, they are in good health and they run and play most of the day. Not sure if the constant pampering, we grant them permissions (sleeping in beds, “suck” the dishes, etc.) I have something to do. What I do know is that is a pleasure to see them healthy and happy, not change it for anything.
      Lau -.”

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