Much research has been done, and help is now available, for humans who suffer from depression. But have you ever considered that dogs can also become depressed?
While there is conflicting research about whether or not dog depression really exists, talk to many animal behaviourists, vets and pet owners and they’ll tell you that dog depression is real, and the symptoms can be similar to the human variety.
Some signs of dog depression include:
- Sleeping all the time – dogs sleep a lot anyway, but if your dog has depression you might notice a change in his sleeping habits. Perhaps he’s sleeping at times he would ordinarily be awake and playing. Perhaps he’s not bouncing up to the door when you get home but rather curled up on his dog bed, or he’s sluggish in the mornings when he would ordinarily be asking to go for a walk.
- Trouble sleeping – an anxious, restless dog might also have trouble sleeping. If you notice your dog fidgeting in bed or wondering around at night when he usually sleeps soundly, these could also be signs that something is up.
- A change in appetite or eating habits – like humans, a depressed or very sad dog will often lose his appetite or might eat more.
- Hiding – watch out for a usually friendly dog who suddenly becomes shy or scared. While a dog who suddenly wants to be left alone could be suffering from a physical illness or injury, this could also be a sign of depression.
- Lethargy – if your normally active dog suddenly loses interest in ball games or walks, this could be a symptom of depression.
- Other symptoms of anxiety and depression include obsessive behaviours such as scratching, nibbling or chewing, of himself or other objects.
Of course, these symptoms can also be indications of physical illness, and sometimes they can occur because of a trauma or change in the household or routine. Whatever the cause, though, it’s wise to take note of these behaviours and take your dog to the vet as soon as you can.