Posted by: | October 18, 2012

Depression in Dogs is More Common than you May Think



As a great pet parent, you work hard to ensure you’re doing the best job possible for your pets.  Making sure they eat the highest quality food, they have the best dog walking / exercise routine, and they get as much love and affection as they can possibly stand.  Right?  Well, if so, then how can a dog suffer from depression?


The fact is that dogs can suffer from depression.  You may think they have an easy life because all they have to do is lie around all day.  But that isn’t really how the canine mind works.

To better help understand your dog, you must always think from their perspective.  You have many things going on in your life which may occupy much of your time.  You have work, friends, family, hobbies, books, tv, the internet, games, this blog, etc…  All your dog has is YOU.  Yes, your dog is completely obsessed with you.  You are what he/she thinks about all day long while you are away, and all night long as you both lie on the couch and cuddle, watching tv until you both call it a night and go to bed.

It’s easy to understand just how important you are to your dog.  Which also explains just how easy it is for them to become depressed when they can’t be with you.  Think about it, you are pretty special.  Right?





Recognize the signs of canine depression.

Signs may include:

– Lack of enthusiasm or motivation.  Are you happily greeted when you arrive home?  Are they still excited to get their favorite treats or food?

– Weight loss.  Monitor their appetite and food intake.

– House soiling.  Is your dog house trained and just started soiling inside again?

– Anxiety.  Dogs have a natural amount of daily anxiety.  It should be walked off with their morning walks every day.  If you notice they are still anxious after their walks, this may be an issue.

– Nervousness, phobic or impulsive aggression.  Your home should be your dog’s ultimate safe place.  He/she should ALWAYS feel safe and welcome in their own home.  If you notice signs of discomfort, nervousness or aggression while your dog is home, this is certainly a bigger issue and needs to be addressed immediately.

– Lack of sociability.  Not all dogs are social.  If a dog hasn’t been socialized properly at an early age, he/she most likely will never be social.  However, if you have a social dog who tends to be more withdrawn during social gatherings, this is a glowing indication of your dog trying to tell you something is wrong.

– Grief.  Mourning or grief is something that everyone (including dogs) will handle in their own way.  If a pet or loved one has passed, moved out, or is no longer involved in your dog’s life, your dog will most likely experience a grieving period.  Remember that pets need closure just as much as humans do.  It’s important to let them say their goodbyes.

– Medication.  Obviously people and pets may react differently to certain types of medication.  This is why most veterinarians will urge you to pay close attention to your pets when they are medicated.  Pay close attention and ALWAYS inform your vet of any concerns or issues.


Causes of Canine Depression:

– Loneliness.  As I mentioned earlier, dogs are companion animals.  Your dog needs you.  It’s understandable to be busy.  If you are, then help them by hiring a professional dog walker to tire them out while you work long hours.  There’s nothing better after a long work day than to come home to a dog who is tired.  A tired dog is a happy dog!

– Stress.  Dogs can soak up stress like a sponge.  If you are experiencing more stress or tension at home, please don’t infect your dog with it.  Find a way to help relieve your stress before passing it to them.

– Changes in schedule.  Dogs are the ultimate creatures of habit.  They love a solid, daily routine.  Try to keep them on a regular schedule if possible.  Keep their walk times, feeding times, etc., around the same time each day.

– Food.  In the past few years, we have seen tremendous progress in the pet food industry.  We now have many different options (grain free, raw, etc.) to help our pets.  We’ve seen a sky-rocketing increase in food allergies in dogs.  We’re seeing many dogs with allergic reactions to poultry, and skin infections and digestive issues with many of the common grains found in dog foods.  If you are serving the wrong foods to your dog, this is an issue which needs to be addressed immediately.  Read the ingredient labels on your foods.  You can even have allergy tests done through your veterinarian to determine exactly which foods your dog may be allergic to.

– Aging.  Much like humans, some dogs do not accept aging well.  Very active dogs (like shepherds) who LOVE to run and jump can be seriously disappointed when old age takes over and they can’t do the things they used to.






– Develop a routine and stick to it.  This will give your dog a sense of security.

– Consult your veterinarian to determine if there is an underlying medical issue.

– Socialization.  Try bringing your dog with you more often.  More involvement in your life will help them.  Bring them along on errands, just as long as they don’t have to wait in the car.  This is 2012.  Many restaurants, stores and other public places are more dog-friendly than you think.

– Training.  Even though your dog most likely went through some type of obedience training earlier in life, there are many great group training classes you can enroll in to help your dog socialize and get more out of life.  Find a friend with a new dog or puppy and enroll in their training class.

– Walk variety.  Instead of the usual walk around the neighborhood, load your dog up in the car and hit the park.  Try a different walk.  Take a slower walk to let them discover the smells of a new neighborhood.  Give them a little variety.

– Talk to them!  This one is crucial!  This is one rule that I absolutely live by.  Talking to your dog shows them attention.  And attention from their favorite person in the whole world is what they love most of all.  Your dog LOVES your voice, so let them hear it!  Any time you are reading a book, magazine, an online article, Facebook posts, etc., read it aloud so your dog can be involved too.  They will LOVE it!

– Companionship.  ONLY if you can financially afford to bring home another pet, you could consider adding more love to your home.  If you “crunch the numbers” and realize that you can afford twice as much dog food, the vaccines, the vet bills, all the usual expenses we pet owners regularly see, consider letting your dog choose its brother or sister.  Understand there will be a lot of patience required if you choose this option.  You will also need to give twice as much love.  But it can also be incredibly rewarding.

Thanks for caring!

Tim Heise
– Certified Pet Care Specialist
Absolute Pet Care, LLC
Scottsdale, AZ


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