Can Dogs Suffer from Depression?

Pets are a bit like people. Each one is entitled to a bad day every now and again. But what if your faithful companion hits a stretch where they clearly aren't themselves? Many people wonder if it's possible for pets to be depressed, and unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Recognizing the Signs

At first, a change in behavior may seem innocent enough. But let it go unchecked and it could become a trend. You may notice:

  • An overall drop in energy or activity
  • A loss of appetite
  • A change in sleeping habits

Keep an eye out for these signs as they may indicate depression.

Identify the Causes

Your pet's depression could be triggered by stress resulting from one or a combination of factors. Consider whether any of these scenarios has occurred in your life lately:

  • Did a child just head off to college? 
  • Has a neighboring pet moved or passed away?
  • Is there construction occurring in or around your home?
  • Have you recently moved?
  • Has your workday changed?

If you answered "yes" to any of these, your pet may be dealing with a legitimate case of the blues. But the best way to validate your suspicions is to first work with your veterinarian to rule out any physical causes behind the change in behavior. For instance, a refusal to go for walks may indicate a potential injury or arthritis. In other cases, it may be the result of an underlying chemical imbalance.

Bouncing Back

If you suspect your pet is depressed, it's time to help get them back to themselves again. After consulting with your veterinarian, see what you can do to help keep your pet stimulated. Here are a few ideas:

  • Dial up the activity level by working in some extra play or an additional walk each day, even if it's short.
  • Embrace a change of scenery by getting them off the couch or away from their favorite place to mope.
  • Go for a spin. Taking your pet for a ride might help snap him out of his funk.

It all starts with making life fun again. And making these small changes in pets’ routine will work wonders in getting them back on track.