Thursday, September 22, 2016

Experts Say 1 In 4 Dogs Have Canine Depression, But Here Are 6 Simple Things To Prevent It

There’s nothing like coming home to your dog. Their tail is wagging, they’re trying to lick your face, and you can barely make it through the doorway before your pup is waiting to be cuddled.

Our pets rely on our acknowledgement, love and attention. So when we get too caught up in our everyday lives, we can often miss changes in behavior, loneliness, or stress.

As published in The Telegraph, a study has revealed that one in four of Britain’s dogs suffers from depression.

With 25% of our beloved animals feeling depressed, it’s time we take affirmative action to care and protect our pets.

So how can you help your cute canine?

Here are 6 ways you can identify if your dog is suffering from depression, and the steps you can take to prevent it.

1. Change in appetite

Often a dog’s eating patterns will change if they are feeling upset, causing them to eat more or less than usual.

Cesar’s Way shares, "When some dogs are extremely sad, they lose interest in food and often lose weight. Alternatively, there are dogs that seem to use food as a kind of solace when they are depressed and want to eat more, leading to weight gain.”

Track your dog's eating

Take note if your dog seems to be developing different eating patterns. If it appears your pup is becoming under- or overweight, it's important to start tracking the amount of food your dog is consuming and their exercise habits.

Medicine Net advises to "go as far as making a chart that quantifies amounts of food offered and actually consumed, and duration of and exertion during the various walks the dog is taken on." If numerous members of your family are responsible for feeding your dog, ensure everyone is aware of whose responsibility it is to feed your pet each day of the week, and schedule exercise and walk breaks in your family calendar.

If it appears your dog is gaining or losing weight after regulating their eating routine, it is important to have your pup examined by a veterinarian.

2. Behavioral Changes

“[Your pet] may act differently, become withdrawn, and seem as though it has lost all energy. It may not want to play, go for walks, and it may become irritable,” explains Mental Health Daily.

If your dog usually loves going for walks and now seems withdrawn and doesn’t even notice when you shake their leash, it may be a sign of depression. Be sure to observe your dog’s energy levels and mood regularly.

Keep your pup engaged and active

The good news is that with proper care and treatment, your furry friend could bounce back quickly. Web MD shares that "most dogs bounce back from depression within a few days to a few months with just a little extra TLC." If you notice changes in their behavior, "keep them engaged, do more of the things they like to do, get them a little more exercise, and they should be fine.”

It's also recommended to reward your dog when they show signs of happiness, and avoid encouraging negative behavior. Praise your dog when he or she appears happier and avoid encouraging negative behavior by giving your pup treats when they are down or moping.

If your efforts don't seem to be working, a trip to your vet may be necessary. Although often considered a last resort, it could be beneficial to discuss other options that will help improve your dog's mood, such as medication or anti-depressants including Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.

3. Loss Of A Loved One

If you have ever lost a loved one, you know how much of an impact it can have on your mood. Our dogs are the same, and if they lose a special companion in their life, they could be at risk for suffering from depression. 

Maintain a normal routine

"Maintaining a normal routine for your pet, such as maintaining a familiar eating time or playtime, is the best way to help with the transitional process" explains Cesar's Way.

It's also important to show understanding and compassion towards your pup and portray a stable, consistent presence. If you notice your dog is extremely sad, it may be beneficial to add additional playtime to your pup's schedule. Cesar's Way shares that more time playing with your pup can help "raise serotonin levels, which may have a positive impact on your dog’s behavior." Toss a ball, go for a long walk, or take your pup to a dog park, and continue to keep a careful watch on their mood.

4. Inclement Weather

Similar to how humans can suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder), dogs can also suffer from the dark winter months and long days.

Mental Heath Daily shares that “changes in the seasons can have a major impact on the moods of our pets ... the summer months may allow pets to get more sunlight, run around outside more, and feel excitement in contrast to the winter months in which they may be cooped up inside most of the day."

Schedule winter activities or research light therapy

Try to ensure your pet is still spending time outdoors playing and being active, despite the shorter, colder days.

If negative symptoms persist, similar treatments used by humans to improve seasonal affective disorder can also be beneficial for your pet.

"Light boxes commonly used by humans for SAD have been found to be effective in treating dogs, too," Dogington Post explains. "The premise behind the light box is that it fills a room with artificial sunlight to help balance the body’s production of melatonin, thus keeping sleep cycles and moods in check." If you notice your pup is feeling down due to the weather, schedule a visit with your vet to see if treatment could be beneficial.

5. Visible Signs of Distress

It's extremely important to pay close attention to your dog to see if they are showing signs of distress such as pacing, spinning, howling, defecating, or chewing or licking their paws more than often. Cesar's Way explains that “depressed dogs will often lick or chew their paws to soothe themselves,” and signs of distress could be rooted in physiological or psychological issues.

One of the believed causes of distress is a lack of interaction and companionship. "Animals whose owners work particularly long hours or have just returned to work display particularly visible signs of distress," The Telegraph reports.

Ensure your dog has social interaction

If you work long hours, try to leave your dog with a friend or relative, or schedule walks and play time for your pup within the work day.

Many pet owners leave their dogs alone for hours on end, "despite vets advising four hours as the absolute limit," Daily Mail explains.

Dogs are naturally sociable, so it is important for them to play and interact with other dogs and their owners. Ensure you are aware of how long you are leaving your dog alone, and make arrangements to have your puppy walked or taken out for playtime if you are unable to.

6. Growing Old

When we get old, our health can start to deteriorate, and we often are no longer able to enjoy the activities we once enjoyed. The same goes for our dogs, who can become more depressed as they age. "Part of this simply is that they don’t have the same energy level as a young puppy, but other times it’s because they sense that their time is almost up,” Mental Health Daily explains.

Try alternative activities and games

As your pet ages, ensure you give your dog lots of affection and attention. Try to offer your pet activities that they can enjoy despite their aging body, and think of games they can partake in to avoid boredom.

We know how much you love your dogs, which is why it’s so important to notice any changes in behavior. Spend time with your furry friends and make sure they know how much you love them – they only have one life!

Main and collage image via Daily Mail | Alamy


Author: verified_user