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How can I tell if my dog is depressed?

Lack of appetite, sad expression or even obsessive behaviors such as excessive paw licking can all be signs of depression or anxiety in dogs. But how do you know for sure if your dog is depressed or anxious, and what should you do if they are? Our Morton vets explain.

Dog Anxiety & Depression

Does your dog seem anxious or depressed? Our Morton vets often see dogs suffering from anxiety and depression due to a variety of reasons.

Anxiety and depression in dogs may seem trivial but can be very serious, leading to destructive behaviors that many pet parents are unable to cope with. If you think that your pooch is feeling anxious or blue a trip to your vet to identify the underlying cause of your pup's symptoms is essential. Your vet will be able to diagnose the cause and offer solutions or treatments to help your dog feel more contented and happy.

But what are the signs of anxiety and depression in dogs? 

Common Signs of Depression in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from depression you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • No interest in playing with people or toys
  • "Sad" expression
  • Lethargy
  • Avoiding you or hiding
  • Growling, howling or aggression
  • Sleeping too much
  • Lack of appetite
  • Not sleeping

Dog Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety leads to behaviors that are very different from those caused by depression. If your dog's nerves seem to be on edge here are a few other signs of anxiety to watch for:

  • Destructive behaviors such as chewing
  • Obsessive paw licking
  • Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
  • Panting for no reason
  • Pacing aimlessly
  • Whimpering, trembling, or whining

While depression and anxiety in dogs can be difficult for both the pet and their owners, there are other health concerns with could also be the cause of your dog's symptoms. If your dog is exhibiting any of the behaviors or symptoms above, contact your vet to book an examination for your pooch.

Causes of Depression & Anxiety in Dogs

Our canine companions are creatures of habit that are happiest when there are steady routines in their lives. Any major life changes or distressing events can have a significant impact on their emotions.

Although more obvious events such as their owner’s death or prolonged absence can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression in dogs, other less extreme events such as a move to a new home, injury or illness, change in routine, or even a new roommate could be the cause of your pup's gloomy demeanor.

Ways To Help Your Pooch Feel Better

Anxious or depressed dogs generally benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people) and a consistent routine including lots of physical activity.

Here are a few more tips on how to help you to reduce your dog's depression or anxiety:

Book a Checkup For Your Dog

  • Some symptoms of depression and anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious or depressed is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs may recover from depression with just a little extra love and attention from their pet parent, your veterinarian can provide medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.

Keep Your Pup's Body & Mind Active

  • Boredom can often lead our furry friends to become anxious or depressed. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy in order to help quell your dog's anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your pup's body and mind active while you're out of the house.

Make Time For Socialization & Play

  • Our dogs are social creatures that love to be around people and other animals. If your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression you may want to consider getting a companion animal for your pup or take your lonely pooch to the dog park, group classes or doggie daycare for additional social interaction.

Show Your Canine Companion Plenty of Love & Patience

  • Of course, our pets need lots of love and patience in order to feel safe and contented - even more so when they are prone to feeling depressed or anxious. By giving your dog some extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues and restore your pup's sense of fun and happiness.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety? Our Morton veterinarians are here to help. Contact Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital today to book an examination for your four-legged family member.

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Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals in Morton and surrounding areas. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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