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Can dogs get depressed?

(March 26, 2010)

Dogs are generally happy and affectionate animals. However, it is possible for your dog to suffer from bouts of depression. Dogs have a wider range of emotions than most of us realize, and just as they display high levels of emotions in terms of love, loyalty, affection, and jealousy, they can also display emotions like grief, fear, paranoia, and sadness. Although to a lesser degree, dogs can get affected by some environmental factors which can cause them to be depressed. Dogs can also show symptoms of depression because of a chemical imbalance in their system.

The signs to look for which point to dog depression include lethargy, refusal to play with you, lack of affection, sitting and staring for long hours, loss of appetite, and general malaise. Though dogs may be less complicated than humans, the effects of depression on them may be the same. Dogs can be depressed because of grief, such as if a member of the family has passed away. If you are ill or unwell, this may cause depression in your dog as dogs tend to be extremely attached to their human family. Sometimes depression is weather related. In particular wintery conditions, it may not be feasible to take your dog for a walk. Your dog might even get depressed if a member of the family has left the home. If someone has gone on holiday or is moving out of the house, your dog might become depressed by this. In addition to dealing with the stress of your child moving to college, you may have to deal with your dog being depressed.

Dogs can also suffer from dog stress. This is a condition where a dog’s environment has caused it stress. Symptoms of this include nervousness, barking, and other symptoms that may be associated with depression.

When you suspect your dog is suffering from depression, you should visit your vet. The first thing to do in such a situation is to make sure that you have ruled out any other causes for the changes in behavior. Get the dog checked out for any medical conditions that could cause similar symptoms to depression. If all of these have been ruled out, you can ask your vet for anti-depressant medications for your dog.

At the same time, you may also try and engage your dog in activities that will cheer it up. Showing extra affection, taking your dog out for walks or to the park, or countryside are activities that could stimulate it. If you are able to get your dog to play with you, indulging in such a physical activity will stimulate your dog and give it some exercise. This might stimulate the dog’s mood and have an overall good effect on the dog.

Submitted by A on March 26, 2010 at 01:27


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