By Lisa Mason, Contributing Writer
Some people have a hard time believing that depression happens with humans; much less that it can affect our canine companions. According to animal experts, like Bonnie Deaver, DVM, who is an executive director at the American College of Veterinarian Behaviorists, it certainly does happen.
The important thing is to make sure you don’t confuse your dog’s action with him just having a bad day, or picking up on your own down mood. If you are just having a down day and are suffering from the blahs, the dog can and sometimes mimic your mood. True depression in a dog will be triggered by something that has happened in their life.
Dogs can show signs of depression when you move to a new house. Everything is strange to them and they aren’t sure if it is home, or if they are just visiting. You can combat moving depression by making sure you bring the dogs favorite toys and feeding dishes as soon as you bring the dog to the new home.
Before you get busy unpacking and arranging things, spend a little time with the dog. Put his or her dishes down where they will be fed from now on and fill them with fresh water and the dog’s favorite food. Don’t worry if she doesn’t dig right in, she may be nervous in a new place. The dog will know that their food is available.
Spend a little time playing and having fun with your dog. Let him know that this is a happy place. If the dog begins to show signs of depression, such as hiding, refusing to eat or play, you will have to be patient and continue to coax him gently. Take her for car rides or walks and then return to the house so that he gets the idea of this being home.
Dogs may also get depressed if someone that has lived in the house moves away. This is especially true if this person interacted with the dog a lot. If you have had house guests for an extended period of time, the dog will get accustomed to them and actually miss them when they leave. This is especially true if there were small children that played with the dog daily. Be patient and offer extra playtime or extra-long walks so that the dog doesn’t feel so lonely.
Watch the dog carefully, as he may be suffering from true doggie depression, or he may just be picking up on how you are feeling if you are miss someone that has recently left home. Also, make sure the dog isn’t refusing to eat or play due to other medical reasons. If he appears to be in pain, or is having diarrhea, vomiting or sneezing, he may physically hurt or be ill and should see a vet. If the signs of depression get worse or last a long time, especially if she is refusing to eat, you should also contact the vet for an evaluation.
If you had a multiple dog household and one of them dies, or leaves the house, your dog will grieve just like you would grieve at the loss of a family member. You’ll need to be patient and show lots of love and compassion. If you are not sure if your dog is suffering from depression, the blahs or an underlying illness, your vet can help you figure it out. They may suggest things you can do to help your dog, or in worse cases, the vet may prescribe medication, if he determines it is true depression. The medication for doggie depression is actually the same thing humans take for depression, only in much smaller doses.
Lisa Mason is a dog owner and writer for Doggie Clothesline, an online dog clothing boutique that features dog accessories and custom dog gifts, as well.
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