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How to cheer your dog out of depression

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We’ve established in a previous article with the help of several university studies that dogs are able to develop complex emotions such as anger, jealousy, and depression. However, despite the lack of scientific research into the matter, we have managed to gather the symptoms your dog might be showing when they are feeling depressed and acting less like itself. When dogs feel down their energetic behavior disappears, their appetite becomes poor and their excitement just ceases to exist – the lack of thirst for life becomes clearly visible in their behavior.

Dogs experience depression just as humans do, and so the signs of their sadness have proven to be very similar to ours. Moods affect dogs’ behavior just like it does ours and if your dog seems down, or not keen on interaction, you might want to consider that your dog could suffer from depression. However, it could also be experiencing another medical issue that is causing it to act differently than it usually does. In this article, we are going to discuss the symptoms, the causes and the treatments of a depressive phase your dog might be going through.

Your dog might seem a little withdrawn and distant. Changed behavior in this case also includes your dog losing excitement for walks, not wanting to play and displaying a noticeable loss of energy.

Decreased Excitability:

Activities your dog is usually excited to do, might not seem as exciting to it as it was before. It might no longer want to go on walks or seem eagerly waiting for you to get home.

Excessive sleeping:

Sleeping is common for dogs when they left alone at home, but finding your dog sleeping for unusually long intervals even when you are present isn’t quite normal. You might be facing a bigger problem, if all your dog seems to be doing is sleeping.

Inactivity:

One of the most known symptoms of depression is inactivity. Your dog might seem stuck in their bed all day, or in their comfortable area without moving around. If the situation continues to get worse, the dog might refuse to go out completely.

Limp Tail:

A dog’s tail reflects its mood. If your dog is suffering from depression, you might find that their tail isn’t as perky as usual. Keep an eye out for your dog if you find their tail to be pointing down in a limp.

Overeating:

While some dogs may refrain from eating at all and suffer from loss of appetite, others may fall victim to overeating. Just as we turn to food for comfort in times of depression, your dog might turn eating into a coping mechanism. If you notice significant weight gain, you might want to consider that your dog is depressed.

Restlessness:

While on the one hand, some dogs tend to escape depression by sleeping, others, on the other hand, tend to sleep less. Changes in sleeping patterns should alarm you that something is not alright with your dog.

Urination Indoors:

If your dog is depressed, it might refrain from going outside, or bark to alert you that it was to pee. If your dog is well trained, and you start to find it peeing indoors, it might as well be depressed.

Depression can be caused by many factors and in some cases, it may be due to a chemical imbalance. Other factors play different roles in causing your dog to fall into depression, such as:

Abuse:

If your dog is adopted, could it be possible that it had been subject to abuse by its previous companions? If your dog shows signs of distrust, aggression, this might mean that they did not grow up in a safe loving environment that probably led to its psychological distress.

Clinical Depression:

If no other previous factors seem to match your dog’s condition, it might just be suffering from a chemical imbalance. If this case continues to go on for a while, your dog might need to take antidepressant medications prescribed by the vet.

Death:

The loss of a sibling or the owner itself may cause the dog to become depressed. Dogs develop strong emotional bonds with those around them and connect with beings they are surrounded by. If a significant person or animal to the dog is taken away from them, it is very possible that it gets depressed.

Depressed Companion:

If you yourself are depressed, it is very likely to inflict upon your dog as well. Taking care of oneself is already a pretty difficult task when depressed, and taking care of another being is a whole other level of responsibility one might neglect without noticing.

Environment:

Dogs are strongly influenced and affected by their surroundings. If you move to a new home or adopt it newly into yours, it might feel a little depressed due to the change. Change in the amount of time you spend with them might also cause them to feel depressed.

Loneliness:

If your dog stays at home all 7 days of the week, with no other companion, it will lead to its depression. A dog is a social being just like us, and it needs time, dedication, attention, and love. It is important before you adopt a dog, to fix a schedule with enough time for them in it.

Seasonal and Weather Changes:

According to the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), seasonal changes can have a huge impact on the moods of dogs. In the summer where your dog gets more time outside in the sun, in contrast to winter months where they stay indoors most of the time. The weather also plays a big role in a dog’s mood. Some dogs are terrified of stormy weathers. Since dogs are extremely sensitive to the pressure changes caused by a storm, many of them can sense an upcoming one and therefore become depressed.

Treating depression is no easy task. It requires patience, time and a lot of compassion. Giving your dog extra attention will make them feel important and remind them that they are part of a family in which they are appreciated, cared for and loved. Giving your dog a treat every once in awhile might boost its mood and confidence and revive its excitement about life. Socialization is also a major key to getting your dog out of the bubble they seem to have locked themselves up in. Being around other lively dogs and pets and seeing them play will awaken its love for games and runs and walks.
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