Can dogs get depressed? The answer is yes, they can. As a general rule, animals are much less likely to become depressed than are human beings, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. So how do you tell if your dog is depressed? You know your dog best, so you are the person that is most likely to know. If you have noticed any kind of negative change in your dog’s behavior, it is possible that he/she is depressed. However, there are some common signs.:
A Lack of interest in food. Depressed animals usually don’t have much of an appetite. Of course your dog’s lack of interest in his food could be due to some other medical condition so it is always best to consult a veterinarian before naming depression as the cause.
Sulking around the house. This is one of the most common signs of depression. Your dog is trying to let you know that he is depressed. This is his way of calling out for help.
Barking more than usual. If your dog doesn’t usually bark, but has recently started doing so, this is a sure sign that something isn’t right. It doesn’t necessarily mean that he is depressed, but it does mean that something is bothering him.
Tearing up the house. If your dog has been tearing up furniture, peeing in the house, etc. it is a sure sign that he is upset, and there is a pretty good chance that he is suffering from some kind of anxiety or depression.
So what do you do about a depressed dog?
The most common cause of depression in dogs is a lack of attention. This, of course, can happen for many reasons. The most common reasons include:
Getting a new job. If you recently got a new job, chances are your dog is spending a lot more time alone lately. This may cause him to become depressed. There is something you can do however. When you come home, bring him a treat, take him out for a walk and let him know that he is still your best friend.
Getting Married. Yes, dogs can be jealous. If you have recently gotten married, chances are you are spending a lot more time with your spouse than you are with your dog. This may cause your dog to feel unloved, and therefore, to become depressed. You can help your dog feel better by noticing his feelings and spending a little time with him. Have your spouse spend time with your dog as well, giving him treats, taking him for walks etc. Pretty soon your dog will come to see your spouse as a reason to be happy rather than a reason to be depressed.
A new pet. Getting a new pet may make your dog feel extremely jealous and unhappy. He may feel as though he has been replaced. This is especially true when you bring home a new puppy. Whatever new pet you have brought home, there is really only one thing you can do, make sure you still spend time with your dog. If possible, spend more time with him than you did before, that way he will associate the new pet with more of your time, rather than less. Give it time, most dogs adjust well to having a new pet in the family as time goes by.
A new baby. Having a baby may cause all kinds of mixed feeling for your dog. Your dog may become depressed due to lack of attention, or due to concern for the baby. Your dog may be anxious about protecting your baby, as well as sad about how much of your time the new baby takes. Your dog may not understand what the baby is, and may be confused about why it is taking so much of your time. The best thing you can do is try to spend as much time with your dog as possible. Let him get to know the baby. Feed him treats and play with him while you care for your baby. When you are too busy to spend anytime with your dog, get someone else to spend time with him. Dogs need companionship to remain healthy.