Diagnosing Dog Depression

Dog depression can occur in canines of all ages. Some states of depression are transient, while others persist for several months. Depression may be treated with medication, therapy or with extra attention from the owner. A pet owner should be able to diagnose depression and seek veterinary help to make sure the dog is well both physically and mentally. Extended depression may weaken the dog’s immune system and make him susceptible for several diseases.

Diagnosing Dog Depression

A depressed dog will be quieter than usual and less active. He will lack appetite, lose weight and have insomnia or sleep too much.

The dog may also be constipated, have excessive hair loss and is irritable.

A depressed dog may often become aggressive.

A dog suffering from depression is likely to howl a lot and hide in secluded places.

It is difficult to diagnose depression judging by blood tests, so a vet can only rule out any other clinical cause and decide on depression after.

However, if you notice any change in your dog’s mood, you need to look for help, as depression may be a symptom of a medical condition.

What Causes Depression in Dogs

Depression in dogs may be triggered by a series of factors:

  • Changes
  • Loss (of an owner, a companion)
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom
  • Medical condition
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Bad weather
  • Lack of light

Treating Depression

A vet will consider a few alternative options before prescribing drugs for depression.

A light case of depression may be solved by offering more attention to your pet; play with him, spend more time and just let him see that you care. This should cheer your pet up. However, if this does not work, the vet will recommend a few pills of anti-depressants.

The anti-depressants for pets include Prozac, Valium or phenobarbital. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) are also efficient mood boosters for pets.

Notice that anti-depressants may have side effects such as:

  • Inactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea/ constipation
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive whining
  • Drowsiness

If you notice several side effects, the treatment should be discontinued, as it creates more problems than solves.

Pheromone diffusers that spread soothing smells are also efficient in treating depression. The pheromones will remind the dog of their mother and puppyhood.

If your dog is depressed due to hormonal imbalance or a different medical condition, the treatment should be directed towards solving the medical problem.

Prevent Depression

Depression may be prevented in some cases.

If your dog has lost a companion, you need to get a new companion and get rid of any objects that bear the smell of the old companion.

If you are away a lot, you may get a pet sitter, who will play and offer attention to your dog. Alternatively, give your dog several toys to play with while you are away.

Exercise can prevent depression. Taking long walks will energize your dog and socializing with other dogs will make him happy.