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Dog Depression How You Can Help Your Pet

Updated on January 17, 2018

I'm writing this article from an Animal Communicator's point of view while there is plenty of clinical information online there is not much information coming from the dog's perspective.

Dogs experience emotions much like humans. Some emotions are easy to see by the way they wag their tail when they are happy or excited. But dogs, like humans also become depressed. Their symptoms can be the same as their human counterparts, loss of appetite, lethargy, sleeping a lot or not being interested in their favorite toy, but the dog kingdom doesn't often suffer from clinical depression.

There is a definite reason why your dog will sometimes have the blues. They range from small things such as an interruption in their daily routine to big things such as losing an animal or human companion. I will take you through some of the most common triggers for depression in dogs and then tell you how you can them overcome them. If you suspect your pet might be depressed always see your veterinarian. There may be a physical reason your pet isn't feeling up to par, more on this later.

If you suspect your pet might be depressed, think first of any changes you might have made in their schedule. For instance your child may have had the whole summer off and is now returning to school. Your dog got use to the extra attention and companionship while your child was at home so it only stands to reason they are sad when they no longer have their playmate.

This issue is a relatively easy one to handle. It may take some time, but create a new routine for your pup. When you walk your child to the bus or even if you drive them take Fido with you. They can see the child is leaving. Be sure the child says good-bye and that they will see the dog later, believe me a dog understands. For a few days you may have to pay extra attention to your canine companion to make up for the loss of the child's affection.

Do fun things with your dog like play ball, add another walk or even take them on a small hike. Another thing you can do at home is them a job to do. In your dog's mind they became your child's guardian and playmate for the summer. Now that the child is not there they need to be assigned a new task. Let them help you around the house. Dogs love to be included in daily chores. Things like walking with you to take the garbage out, or going with you to get the mail at the end of the driveway, dogs love to work and are great helpers.

Unless you can take your pet in the store with you please leave them home if you are running errands. They should never be left in a car. Your car can get thirty-five degrees hotter inside than the outside temperature and it can happen within ten minutes. Even if you leave the windows open a dog can get overheated very quickly.

A child going off to college can really upset your dog's life. Someone that has been a constant part of their life will suddenly be gone. Your pet knows the minute the suitcases come out that someone is leaving. A dog can become depressed as soon as the packing starts. Don't you remember what happened the last time you took the suitcases out to go on a trip? The vacancy in the house will surly disrupt your pet's routine, especially if the one leaving is the one that takes care of the dog.

If your child is the main care giver of your dog and they are leaving, a few weeks before their departure switch the feeding and walking duties to someone else in the house. It can be you or another child a spouse, anyone. That way the dog gets use to a new routine before hand. Be sure the person leaving leaves an old shirt or something with that persons scent on it. If you can accommodate the dog on the trip to drop off your child do so. If you have to leave them home try taking them to a boarding facility where they can have fun and play with other dogs while you are gone.

If you have another child that will be home to take care of your pet be sure the other child sticks as closely to your dog's routine as possible. Regular feedings and walks can go a long way in balancing out the absence of another person. Again you may need to shower your pet with some extra love for a few days.

The loss of a pet cannot only be devastating for you, but your dog may suffer too. Your dog will most likely miss the companionship more than the other pet. I know you can never replace your old buddy, but your pet may need a new companion as soon as possible. Pets that are use to having a buddy around don’t due well if they are suddenly alone. They have come to depend on another body being in the house with them. This isn't always the case, but a lot of the time it helps. It may even help you. Remember you are never replacing your other pet. One can never do that, but a new companion can help you both heal.

Not every pet suffers when a partner is lost. I had an Animal Communication client come to me sure her pet was suffering from depression because her other dog had recently passed. Maggie never seemed particularly attached to this other pup so it seemed unlikely she was suffering from the loss. Mel said Maggie was not eating, had lost weight and she was worried about it. While talking to the dog, the dog she showed me her food. I asked Mel if she had changed Maggie's diet recently and she said yes. I told her, "Maggie doesn't like her new food because it was too mushy." Mel admitted she was trying to use up the food she had fed the dog that had just passed. Since this dog was older the food was much more bland and soft (the mushy food Maggie didn't like.) Her dog was upset about the change in diet, not the loss of the other pet. Once Mel changed Maggie back to her old food she started eating again.

When a companion animal loses their human it really shakes up the dog's world. I have known dogs that have passed shortly after their owner’s did. They simply died of a broken heart. This type of situation is sometimes hard for a pet to get over. Its worse if the pet ends up in a shelter. It is so important to make sure you have made arrangements for your pets in the event they must leave you or you must leave them. I can’t express that enough.

It is helpful if the new owner knows your pet’s routine. It also helps it it is a friend or family member that has had a lot of contact with your pet. I have a neighbor that leaves his dog with me whenever he has to go out of town on business. His dog is very comfortable at my house if anything happened to my friend I know his dog would have no problem moving in with me and carrying on with her life.

Every pet owner needs to keep these things in mind. This is why it is also important to socialize your pet to may different kinds of environments. Nothing is more devastating to watch than to see a dog who has never socialized with anyone but their owner to try to adjust to a new environment. I have worked with many of these situations and it breaks my heart. Their poor baby does not know what to do when facing a new challenge.

Another situation that can throw your pet into a tizzy is if you suddenly go back to work. Dogs are creatures of habit. They like to do the same things day in and day out. Any sort of change can upset them and they really don't like to be left alone. It may take your pet a little time to get use to spending the day alone, but there are also things you can do.

When you go back to work, remember you will be up and moving around, but your pet will be left at home with nothing to do, but be depressed about the fact you’re gone. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise before you leave for the day. This may mean you need to get up extra early and take them for a walk. Exercise can go a long way in preventing destruction from an overactive pup.

If you dog usually eats in the morning make sure you feed them, even if its at an earlier time. It might be helpful if you start your work routine a few weeks before you start your job. That way your dog can get use to a new routine while you are still at home.

Hire a dog walker for the days you are gone. Knowing they are going to get a break during the day gives your pet something to look forward to. Remember to introduce them to their new walking buddy before hand. Doggie Day Care is a great way for your pet to get exercise and socialize while you are at work all day. There is nothing better than coming home and your pet is as tired as you are. Kong toys are also a good item for a lonely pet. Fill a kong with peanut butter and put it in the freezer. Give it to your pet before you leave for work or have the dog walker give it to them after their afternoon walk. You can also buy interactive toys that will keep your canine pal busy while you are away.

A new baby will most certainly disrupt everybody's routine in the whole household, but poor Fido tends to get the short end of the stick when a new member joins the family. Daily walks become a thing of the past, feeding times change and Fido gets no attention at all. With all you will have to be concerned with trying to fit time in for a dog may seem impossible. There is an easy solution. Give your pet a job to do. Make them feel like they are a part of the whole operation.

I got a call from a client who was pregnant and worried how it was going to affect her dog. She didn’t want the dog getting jealous of the baby and actually thought the dog might hurt the baby. She was also worried her young dog was to boisterous to walk calmly alongside a stroller. I took her and her dog out to a park and first taught the dog recall in case she got away. After that I borrowed a stroller and we practiced walking her pup. At first the dog was scared, but after a while she learned to ignore the stroller and walked very nicely along side. I simply told the dog it was her job to help walk the baby. When we gave her a job to do she straightened right up and accepted responsibility.

I told her to make sure her dog has jobs to do at home as well. For instance if you have to go get a bottle leave the baby, tell your dog to take care of the baby while your gone and then praise them and thank them when you get back.

My friend use to leave her infant daughter on a blanket on the floor while she dusted the furniture. She instructed her Labrador to watch the baby while she cleaned. That dog learned how to lie on the blanket next to the baby and not move until my friend told her to. If the baby cried the dog barked to alert my friend. Now mind you my friend was in the same room but the dog let her know the baby was crying. My friend always thanked her dog for helping out. As long as you make it part of the dog's job to help you there shouldn't be any problems with jealousy or depression.

Dogs and cats alike can feel down when they are in pain. That is why if your pet is acting out of sorts its important to make a visit to the vet's office. Arthritis, a tummy ache, or even an injury can have your dog singing the blues. They may sleep because its the only way for them to ease their pain. Get them in for an exam and maybe a painkiller and you will see them back in the pink before long. I have heard of very few cases of clinical depression in which the pet is actually given an anti-depressant. That's why it is important to get you pet to the veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem.

Although dogs can feel a myriad of emotions they tend to live in the present, so their blue moods usually don't last very long, but who ever wants to see their pal feeling down? Always make sure your pet isn't hurting. You probably won't need medication, but your vet may have some ideas about how you can help your pet get back to their old self again.


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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Interesting article. I will share it on my dog twitter.


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