The short days and cold weather this time of year can have all of us feeling a little glum. Pets can feel the vibe, too, and sometimes are affected by a down mood, just like people. Volunteer Veterinary Hospital hopes to help pet owners recognize if their dog is depressed so that they can help man’s best friend feel better.
Signs Your Dog is Depressed
Depression and other forms of mental illness can happen in our pets. Because they don’t talk to us, though, sometimes these issues can go undiagnosed. Depression, in particular, most often occurs when a pet has been through some type of life change or traumatic event. These might include loss of a human, loss of an animal companion, or major change in routine.
Depression in dogs can manifest in different ways. Some signs that you might want to intervene can include:
- Increased time sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Changes in housetraining
- Changes in normal personality traits and behaviors
- Obsessive behaviors like pacing or overgrooming
While it might be easy to blame these types of changes on depression, there are definitely other medical problems that can have similar symptoms. It is always best to contact us when your pet has a dramatic change so that we can investigate possible causes of a problem.
Cheering Up Your Pup
The first thing to do when you think your pet might be depressed is to have an examination performed to rule out other medical issues. Nothing is worse than not treating a problem that is painful or otherwise harmful because we didn’t recognize it was there.
Once we are sure that there isn’t a physical cause for your pet’s symptoms, we can focus on techniques to help boost your pup’s spirits.
You might make an effort to:
- Add predictable exercise into your pet’s routine
- Get your dog’s brain working though puzzle toys, games, and training sessions
- Up the touch factor with grooming or snuggle sessions
- Get your pet out of the house for a trip to a friend’s house, puppy play date, hike, or dog park excursion
- Socialize with other pets if your dog enjoys doing so
- Make your pet’s day-to-day schedule as reliable as possible
- Groom your dog
- Enrich your dog’s environment
If your dog has the blues, putting a little energy into creating a stable and loving home environment can go a long way. If the problem is long-standing or seems to be worsening, please don’t hesitate to reach out. In some situations more aggressive intervention is needed.
You know your dog best, and if you think there is a problem, it is never wrong to seek help. You are your pet’s advocate, and we appreciate you taking the job to heart. Contact us at (865) 609-0311 with any questions or concerns about your pet’s mental health.