Your dog looks at you with sad eyes and prefers to just lie in the corner? Even his favorite toy is left lying on the left and when going for a walk he joins you listlessly? Your four-legged friend could be depressed! We give tips on how to recognize depressed dogs and how you can help them.
Why Is My Dog Depressed?
Not in the mood for nothing and a sad charisma: When you observe these characteristics in your dog, many dog owners ask themselves whether their dog is sad or even depressed. In humans, depression stands for a depressed (Latin: “depressed”) mood that can be traced back to an illness or a mental disorder.
When we talk about “depression” in dogs, we mean that the dogs appear very sad and lackluster and are therefore impaired in their quality of life.
In most cases, dog “depression” does not result from a real illness. However, physical illness can lead to fatigue, causing these symptoms.
Signs Your Dog is Depressed
In many cases, symptoms that show up in sad dogs can be a sign of illness. That is why:
If this rules out physical causes, it could be depression.
The dog is …
- driveless and even ignores his favorite toy.
- hardly cares about his surroundings.
- is not happy about your coming home or being petted.
- has less appetite.
Possible Causes of Depression in Dogs
Why is my dog sad? In order to answer this, your empathy is required. What has changed in the life of the four-legged friend plays a role here.
For example, working dogs that “retire” can develop depressive behavior. You are missing the daily chores. Of course, the loss of a four- or two-legged friend can also lead to the four-legged friend mourning.
Possible causes of depression in dogs include:
- Diseases associated with pain or discomfort.
- Too little employment.
- Bad experiences: death of the owner, relocation, injuries from fighting.
- Stress and excessive demands.
Unresponsive Dog – What To Do?
If physical illnesses are excluded, research into the causes begins. Do not jump to conclusions here. In the case of young dogs, for example, it can be difficult to find out: Is my dog over-or under-challenged? If in doubt, a professional dog trainer will help.
Treat Diseases and Their Symptoms
Your veterinarian is the first point of contact when it comes to treating an illness. Cancer or underactive thyroid can cause the dog to appear depressed. For chronically ill four-legged friends, tailor-made pain therapy can be part of the treatment.
Does the dog seem sad because it is less able to move because of osteoarthritis? Then consider alternative activities. This can include physical therapy including swimming. Sniffing and intelligence games can also be a satisfying activity for dogs who cannot move well.
If the dog is not busy, it is important to find a good amount of activity. Many herding dog breeds such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds require more physical and mental activity than the owners can allow. After all, only a few have a flock of sheep to tend on the property.
It is important to find a reasonable balance between activity and relaxation.
Because eager workers “overwind” quickly, so that they can hardly be reassured afterward. Dog sports in which the dog and owner work closely together are well suited. These include dog dancing, drift ball, or agility. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some dogs like Siberian Huskies benefit from long tours and also need a large plot of land to run freely.
Depressed Through Traumatic Experiences
Give your four-legged friends time for their grief, but invite them regularly to actively experience everyday life with you. For example, look for unknown hiking trails for joint tours that will activate the dog.
If the dog has lost its original caregiver, patient training can improve the bond with you. Pick up your four-legged friend where he is and do not overwhelm him.
Relaxation for Stressed Dogs
Relocations, changes of ownership, or excessive training requirements can stress a dog. Even new family members in the form of two-legged offspring overwhelm some dogs.
Fixed rituals and a regular daily routine help against this.
Take a few minutes a day that belongs only to you and the dog – for a small game or training, for example. Whether moving or crying babies: A protected place of retreat helps the dog. Here he can possibly make up for a lack of sleep: Dogs like to doze for over 14 hours a day.
Stressed four-legged friends benefit from tasks that they can solve well. If your dog is overwhelmed during training, take a step back. Practice basic commands and praise him for a job well done. This increases your self-confidence and reduces stress.
Mood Enhancers for Depressed Dogs?
In some cases, such as grief or severe fear of loss, the veterinarian may prescribe fluoxetine for dogs. It is an active ingredient that can also help people with depression. However, the treatment usually only makes sense in combination with behavior therapy.
Some owners report homeopathic remedies that help against depression in dogs. These must match the character and the situation, which is why a visit to the animal health practitioner can help.
That Puts Dogs in a Good Mood
As different as the causes of depression in dogs are – the following tips offer first aid for healthy dogs:
- spend two to three hours a day with the dog outside;
- proceed step by step during training and regularly repeat what you know;
- always give the dog access to a place of retreat;
- do not leave the dog alone for more than four hours a day;
- ritualized pats for dogs who love body contact;
- several small training units of a few minutes per day;
- allow 14 to 16 hours of sleep per day.