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Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and How To Help

Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and How To Help

Much like their humans, dogs can also experience depression and anxiety. Here, our vets in Farmington Hills list signs to look for and discuss how you might be able to help your four-legged companion cheer up. 

It's true that dogs are capable of suffering from depression and anxiety. This is due to the fact they are intelligent creatures who, like humans, experience a range of emotions.

What causes depression and anxiety in dogs?

Sometimes, a distressing event or major change in a dog's life can bring on symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. 

For example, if a companion animal or owner dies, or even if those around them are experiencing grief, this can impact a dog's emotions. 

Big life changes, such as a new pet, baby or move to a new house, may also affect a dog's emotions. Generally, any significant change to your dog's regular routine can lead to depression or anxiety?

How do I know if my dog has depression?

Symptoms of depression in dogs are similar to those seen in people. 

Common symptoms include a loss of interest in things they once loved or enjoyed, a change in sleeping and/or eating habits and low activity levels. 

Some dogs may also show signs of aggression, including uncharacteristic whining or howling. 

How do I know if my dog has anxiety?

Signs of anxiety in dogs may include reduced activity, passive escape behaviors, tail-tucking, hiding or trembling. They may also show signs of panic including active escape behavior, pacing or panting. 

Physical symptoms of anxiety in dogs can involve sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity, such as lesions that cause them to lick or bite their own body, or diarrhea. 

How can I help treat my dog's depression or anxiety?

The good news is that dogs can often overcome depression and/or anxiety on their own. Depending on the dog and the situation, it can take days to months. No matter what, the love and care of their owners, and sometimes some guidance from your veterinarian, can help them overcome the blues.

Pet owners can try the following techniques:

  • Offer your dog more attention. But wait until you see some signs of happiness, like a wagging tail, and reward them for that behavior.
  • Keep your dog active with regular walks, playtimes, and other activities you know they enjoy.
  • If your dog's symptoms are related to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet or start socializing them with other pets.
  • Depending on the severity of their symptoms your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication as well as recommend behavior management techniques.

In some cases, depression and/or anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition in a dog. If your pet has not recently experienced a major life change or distressing event, talk to your veterinarian about what else could be troubling them. Your veterinarian may also recommend a thorough physical exam to identify any potential underlying issues. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you gotten your cat or kitten vaccinated yet? Book an appointment today. Our experienced Farmington Hills vets can set your cat up for a safe and happy life.

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