Dogs, just like humans have their off days; they can mope around, spend more time sleeping than they usually do, go off their food or avoid human contact all together. Usually, they revert to being their usual selves, with their blue mood going just as quickly as it appeared, however, if their low moods persists, it is something to be aware of and take seriously.
Dogs experience a deep and varied emotional life, and we as dog owners often witness the expanse of these emotions through our dogs life. Because dogs share a similar neurological make up to humans, they are capable of experiencing a series of complicated emotions, such as depression.
The symptoms of canine depression are similar to the symptoms experienced by humans. Typically the dog will show some of the following common symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss, due to refusing to take food
- Loss of interests in play activity
- Withdrawal from people
- Clinging to owner
Again, as with humans, dogs can experience depressive symptoms for a whole host of reasons, however, depression is usually a reaction to a stressful event, or a imbalance in the dogs neuro chemical make up, usually referred to as clinical depression.
In the case of an imbalance in the dogs neuro chemistry, medication can be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of depression in the dog, by restoring the chemical balance.
Reactive depression can be due to a number of reasons that could include any of the following:
- The loss of a human friend or the dogs owner
- The loss of a canine friend
- Bad treatment
- Weather changes
- Environmental changes, for example, change of house or location
- Loss of attention due to a new addition to the family, such as a baby
- Separation from it's owner for long periods during the day
- Boredom due to being left alone
- Lack of exercise and mental stimulation
Depression is a challenge to diagnose, especially to the untrained, therefore, if you have a dog who is exhibiting the symptoms above above, it would be sensible to take your dog to the vet, in order that a correct diagnosis of your dogs condition can then be made, as a physical illness or condition could be the root cause of the symptoms, and not depression.
If the diagnosis confirms your dog has depression, then there are a number of ways it can be rented, depending on it's origin. If your pets depression is due to a chemical imbalance, then your vet may recommend a course of medicine, such as Prozac.
If your dog is experiencing depression due to a stressful event, then a program of rehabilitation will help him overcome his strong feelings, and a return to his normal state of being. Begin by identifying the root cause of your dogs depression, then work from this point. If your dog is depressed due to the loss of a canine friend, you may want to consider getting a new friend for him. If you have a dog who has eperienced bad treatment from a previous owner, and has developed depression as a result, then it's time for you to help your dog renew his faith in human kind.
Spend time with your dog playing his favorite games, or alternatively, take regular walks to your local park, or some other of your dogs favorite out door places. Giving your dog a chance to stimulate his sensations, especially his favorite sense-his sense of smell, will give him a respite from his depressive feelings.
Try not to leave your pet alone during the early stages of his recovery. If you have a friend or neighbor who is willing to spend time with your dog, for a while during the day, then take advantage of the kind offer, alternatively you could contact a pet sitting service.
If you are not totally happy with giving your pet medications prescribed by the vet, such as Prozac, then you may want to try more natural remedies. You may want to try using some or all of the following, to help restore your pets emotional balance, naturally:
Bach flower remedies
Flower essences have proven to be of benefit to humans experiencing all manner of negative emotions. Flower essences are also safe and beneficial in helping depressive symptoms in dogs.
St. Johns Wort is one herbal remedy proven to help depression in humans, that is also safe and effective treating depressive symptoms in dogs.
The use of essential oils is another safe and totally natural way to help your pet. Oils can be dispersed around the room with the use of a burner or diffuser. Your dog can then be left to inhale the oils calming and restored properties.
Alternately, you can use massage along with your essential oils. Touch alone will have the effect of promoting your dogs natural 'feel good' chemicals. However, when massage is combined with essential oils, the healing process will accelerate.