Have you ever left for a vacation and upon your return an unhappy mutt greeted you? You took every precaution to make sure your canine companion was in the loving care of a friend, family member, or reputable kennel, but when you pick him up, he may give you the cold doggie shoulder.
Conversely, he may be ecstatic to see you, but won’t touch his food when you are at home. He may even suffer from anxiety when you just go outside with the trash.
A varied form of canine depression may be observed after the death of a loved one – either canine or human. Perhaps he has stopped eating and is only drinking a little bit of water occasionally, and the prospect of a walk is leaving him cold.
In some cases, your dog may actually whine silently yet persistently. It is hard to deal with mourning doggies, but there are some things you can do to ease your canine companion’s suffering.
Before you do anything else, make sure that there is no physical ailment that is causing your dog’s change in behavior. If a dog stops eating, for example, ensure that it isn’t due to an illness. The veterinarian should be able to perform some simple tests to rule out any physiological cause for the dog’s change in behavior.
If your dog is healthy but sad, you may want to think about the things he enjoys most. Perhaps he always likes to walk at the special dog beach? Or maybe his favorite pastime is a ride in the car with the windows rolled down and his ears flopping in the breeze? Now is a good time to take him to do these things he enjoys.
Additionally, you will also want to increase his activity level and take him out more. Exercise can work wonders in a depressed dog, and he may bounce back quickly. Of course, none of these are fixes and it is still possible that none of these ideas will work.
At that point you want to make sure you shower your dog with love and understanding. Do not discipline him for his behavior and do not yell at him in your own frustration.
It is easy to just tell him to snap out of it, but if you will remember your own times of the blues, someone telling you to snap out of it does precious little good. As a matter of fact, it only makes things worse, because if the dog senses your irritation with him, he may quite possibly begin to avoid you.
If your dog is missing another dog, perhaps you had another dog living with you who has since passed on, or because of the split in a household the other dog moved away, you could try to make “play dates” with other dog owners and have the dogs interact. Additionally, you may wish to consider adding another dog to your household.
If all else fails, there is the mode of medication. Believe it or not, but there are antidepressants for doggies and your veterinarian will be able to prescribe something that will most likely work for your pooch. While these medications are not a cure-all, they do provide some help in alleviating the chemical imbalances in the dog’s brain that cause the behaviors.
If you want to eschew medication as long as possible, you could also get a referral to an animal behaviorist who will be able to ascertain the exact causes of your dog’s depression and work with you on a behavior modification plan to readjust him.
As you can see, dogs aren’t unlike us – doggie depression is a very real illness that can affect your canine companion. Probably the worst thing you can do is to ignore it and leave him be. He will not get any better, and a poor intake of food may lead to a whole host of other health related issues that will need to be addressed.