Just like humans, dogs can go through periods where they feel down in the dumps for days, or even months, on end. Unlike humans, however, they can’t talk (or bark) about their feelings. That’s why it’s impawtent for us humans to look out for the warning signs of a depressed doggo. Even though they can’t use words to express themselves, a change in behaviour could offer tell-tale signs of their depressed state of mind.
Why your doggo might be feeling low
Your dog might be depressed because he or she…
- Is feeling under the weather or ill.
- Is missing another dog or person.
- Is feeling homesick or doesn’t like the change in scenery if you have recently moved to a new home.
- Might have the heebie-jeebies – for example, the neighbour’s new dog might be twice his/her size, which can cause anxiety and fear.
- Might be picking up on your mood.
How do you know you’ve got a depro doggo?
According to a Wellness Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, a dog is depressed when s/he displays a change in normal behaviour. “While ‘normal’ is generally a spectrum, if you notice a shift from what is typical of your pet, the cause could be emotional stress”, says Becker. It’s important to note that many of these behaviours can also be indicative of other physical conditions, so it can be helpful to rule out other issues. A veterinarian can give a professional assessment and offer treatment for the problem at hand.
Here are some common warning signs to look out for:
- “I’m not hungry” or “I am an emotional eater”
If your dog just sniffs their food, only takes a small bite or finishes the entire bowl in under a minute, it could be an indication of an emotional issue. Some dogs might be emotional eaters, while others starve themselves to showcase their state of mind. If you notice that your dog is suddenly just skin and bones or has packed on the pounds, s/he might be suffering from depression. Consult a qualified vet immediately if you notice sudden changes in their appetite and weight.
- “Just let me sleep in”
According to the American Kennel Club, dogs sleep an average of 12 hours a day. If you, however, notice that your pooch only wakes up for a bite to eat or a quick “bathroom” break, they might be unhappy. Conversely, insomnia can indicate the same thing, so regardless of the amount of sleep they’re getting, if it’s significantly more or less than usual, it could be a sign that they’re feeling blue.
- “Must lick excessively…”
Your dog’s urge to overdo the self-grooming isn’t always a sign of OCD, it could be a way of dealing with feelings of sadness. “Most people are not aware, but excessive licking (or chewing) can be a way of self-soothing,” says veterinary health expert, Dr Gary Richter. If your pet is licking or chewing excessively, make sure to rule out any bug bites or skin conditions.
- “I don’t have anger issues, just leave me alone, humans”
Did you know that the root of a dog’s aggression could simply be depression? If your pet is normally laidback and suddenly starts to bark or growl at anything that comes their way, it could be a sign that they’re hung up about something.
- “I’m not in the mood to play games”
Toys aren’t the only things a sad dog may lose interest in. If your dog’s energy is low and s/he doesn’t seem interested in going for a walk or playing with other dogs, it could indicate that s/he’s feeling down. If Fluffy isn’t his usual, playful self, it might be worth taking a trip to a vet for an overall check-up.
If you notice any of the above warning signs, please visit a qualified vet who will prescribe an appropriate treatment plan. Be patient with your pooch and offer loads of TLC through the good times, and especially through more challenging times. After all, they’re the ones who pick us up with a wagging tail, cuddles and kisses when we’re down in the dumps, which make them just as part of the family as our two-legged family members. Even more of a reason to consider pet insurance to cater for their every need, particularly in times of distress. Don’t let unexpected vet bills give you the blues, quote and buy dotsure.co.za pet cover online in under 5 minutes. Let’s keep the good vibes rolling in and the tails wagging. 😉
Like this blog? You’ll might also find these interesting:
- What you need to know about pets and anxiety
- Does your dog have a sleep disorder?
- A dog for depression?