Just like humans, dogs can develop anxiety and depression. They are intelligent creatures that are affected by their environment, so it can be hard for some owners when their suddenly dogs act differently and they're not sure why. Here, our Turlock vets share some symptoms and treatments of anxiety and depression in dogs.
What causes depression and anxiety in dogs?
A sudden change in a dog's life can cause them to develop anxiety or depression over time. For example, a dog losing its owner or companion animal, a dog's family showing sadness/grief, a change in environment, or a traumatic injury are all potential causes for a dog to develop a mental ailment.
Generally, any significant change to your dog’s daily routine may bring on symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is important for owners to be able to recognize these signs of cognitive change in their pets so they can help them get treated and live their happiest, fulfilling life.
How do I know if my dog has depression?
Symptoms of depression in dogs aren't too far from the symptoms you see in humans. Common signs include:
- Low activity levels
- Loss in interest in the things they once enjoyed
- Change in eating and/or sleeping habits
- Signs of aggression
- Uncharacteristic howling or whining
How do I know if my dog has anxiety?
Some common signs of anxiety in dogs include:
- Reduced activity
- Passive escape behaviors
- Panting and pacing
Physical symptoms of anxiety in dogs may include sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity, like diarrhea, or lesions causing them to lick or bite their own body.
How can I help treat my dog's depression or anxiety?
The good news is that dogs can often overcome depression and/or anxiety on their own. Depending on the dog and the situation, it can take days to months. No matter what, the love and care of their owners, and sometimes some guidance from your veterinarian, can help them overcome the blues.
Pet owners can try the following techniques:
- Offer your dog more attention. But wait until you see some signs of happiness, like a wagging tail, and reward them for that behavior.
- Keep your dog active with regular walks, playtimes, and other activities you know they enjoy.
- If your dog's symptoms are related to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet or start socializing them with other pets.
Depending on the severity of their symptoms your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication as well as recommend behavior management techniques.
In some cases, depression and/or anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition in a dog. If your pet has not recently experienced a major life change or distressing event, talk to your veterinarian about what else could be troubling them.