Life is tough, and it can be for dogs too. Just like how daily struggles and brain imbalances can cause depression for humans, it also takes a toll on our furry friends. Of course, you want your best friend to be happy and healthy all year long, but things can take a turn for no fault of your own. Unfortunately, you cannot ask your dog if they’re depressed and get a straightforward answer. However, they are animals that show emotion through their actions, and you can easily identify if they aren’t acting themselves.
Just like if your dog was sick with a physical illness, you can look at warning signs that they aren’t coping mentally as well. If they are exhibiting one or two of the signs, it may not mean they are depressed, but it means you can take them to the vet and try and get them help. Below are some actions to watch out for and what you can do to help if your furry friend is feeling down.
1. Losing interest in activities they previously enjoyed
A huge warning sign that your pup isn’t as happy as normal is if they aren’t interested in playing or going for walks. For example, if your furry friend has a special toy that they love interacting with daily and then suddenly doesn’t want to go near it, this could be cause for concern. Similarly, if they always jumped with joy the moment they saw their leash but instead act as though they haven’t seen it, your dog may be depressed.
2. Sudden change in energy levels
Dogs are active animals; there’s no denying that. However, if your pup goes from running off their energy ten times a day to never at all, then there may be something affecting their mood. Unless your dog is very old, where a change in energy levels can be normal and nothing to worry about, it may be a tell-tale sign that they have depression.
3. Noticeable difference in sleeping pattern
Everyone has said at least once that they wish they had the life of their dog. Eat, sleep, and play is all they have to do. However, although dogs have the option to rest as much as they want, it isn’t usual for them to spend all day every day in a deep slumber. Just like when a human is feeling down, a dog will lose interest and simply want to sleep their days away. This is a factor that could suggest they have depression.
4. Eating more or less than usual
If you’ve had your dog for a while, you’ll know the ins and outs of their eating routine. Therefore, it can be quite easy to notice if they are eating more and less than they usually do. Depression typically causes a dog to eat less, but it can go the other way. However, if this is the only warning sign they are displaying, don’t be too alarmed. Eating habits can change for a number of reasons, such as them exercising more or a change of environment.
5. Excessive licking of their paws
Just like humans bite their nails when they’re nervous or upset, dogs tend to lick their paws. It’s a way to soothe themselves when they’re feeling stressed or under the weather. Some licking can be fine and nothing to worry about, but if it is a constant occurrence, then it may be something to look into further.
How to helpSocialize your dog
Friends can make everything better, and the same applies to your furry friend. Try and introduce them to other dogs that can keep them company. This doesn’t mean you need to get another dog, but simply taking them for a walk where you know there are other pups or to a dog park can make all the difference.
Get out in the sun
A potential reason your dog is feeling a bit down could be due to the fact they aren’t getting enough activity. You need to remember that dogs are animals who have evolved from being wild and roaming the outdoors. By taking them on more walks on sunny days or down to the beach or park for a day out could cheer them up and allow them to release some excess energy.Show some more love
A hug can go a long way. Maybe you’ve just started a new job or haven’t had the time to show the love to your dog you used to. If this is something that may have happened, try and find some time in your day to simply sit down with your furry friend and give them a cuddle. Just like humans, they need an element of compassion and closeness, so this could help their depression.Keep a regular routine
A routine that constantly changes can be confusing and stressful for your dog. By sticking to roughly the same timetable each day, your furry friend knows when they get their walks, food, and anything else. It can help perk them up and keep the tails wagging each day.
Seeing your dog in distress can be upsetting for you too, so you need to not be so hard on yourself. A dog can be depressed for a number of reasons, and the main thing is to help them feel happier. If your furry friend is showing a few of these warning signs and you’re still unsure, then you may want to talk to your veterinarian. Taking steps to help them requires patience, but there’s no doubt they will get back to their happy selves in no time.