Caring for Your Pup's Mental Health
Causes of Depression & AnxietyThere are several reasons why dogs may experience anxiety or depression. Typically, a big change in their life or distressing event can impact them. Just like we do, they could be mourning the loss of a human or animal friend. New environments can affect dogs; whether it’s a move to a new home or a change in weather, dogs need time to adjust. Your dog could also be depressed when you leave the home or suffer from separation anxiety. If you introduced a new pet or person into the home, that can also affect them.
Signs of Depression
- They don’t have as much energy as usual
- They don’t seem interested in playing with people or toys
- They hide from you
- They growl or howl more than they normally do
- They seem aggressive
- They sleep too much or not at all
- They have a decreased appetite
- They have destructive behaviors such as chewing or destroying furniture
- They lick their paws obsessively
- They have trouble controlling their pee or poop
- They pace around
- They pant when it’s not hot
- They whine, whimper, or tremble
How You Can HelpVisit your vet. They can determine whether they’re experiencing anxiety, depression, or something else, then create a course of action (such as medication or a behaviorist). It could be that your pup has these symptoms due to an underlying health issue. If their behavior is mild, your dog may start to feel better shortly on their own and stop the behavior. If you want to help them out, there are plenty of things you can do.
- Establish and stick to a routine. Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Keep your walks and meals at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Socialize them. Dogs are social animals, and if yours seem sad or lonely, take them to a dog park or doggie daycare to help them get more social interaction. Sometimes, adding another pup to your home can help.
- Increase their exercise. If your pup is bored or understimulated, they might expend their energy through bad behaviors. You can exercise their brain with a puzzle. You can also teach them a new trick to get rid of that energy. Plus, when you train your pup, it increases your bond and rewards their positive behavior.
- Update their diet. If your dog isn’t eating, a change in diet could increase their appetite, and high-quality food can help blood sugar. Additionally, research shows adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet can enhance their mood. You can increase this through food that includes fish oil. You can also add probiotics to their diet to help increase serotonin.
- Show them a little extra TLC. Make them feel loved and safe to help alleviate some of their anxiety or depression.
When we bring a fur-baby into our lives, it is up to us to ensure that they're feeling their absolute best. Just like physical health and wellness, mental health is vital. We must be proactive in our pups' well-being. This means regularly exercising, eating quality food, showing them some love, and taking them to the vet when needed. Let us know what tips you have for keeping your dogs happy and healthy.