Of course, we all think about the health of our pets – a balanced diet, plenty of exercise, vet check-ups and vaccinations. But did you know that sometimes our dogs can suffer similar mental health problems to us humans too?
We may think “it’s just his way” or say it’s “part of his breed”. But there are a number of issues that can affect dogs in much the same way as us.
What are the signs that your dog is suffering sadness and depression?
Dogs can and do feel sadness, fear and even depression and become lethargic and disinterested.
- Hyperactive behaviour? OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can appear as repetitive behaviours such as tail-chasing, excessive digging or chewing.
- Continuous barking? Separation anxiety may lead to frantic barking or destructive behaviour if left alone.
- Noise sensitivity? Noise anxiety can produce similar stress behaviours to separation anxiety if your dog is fearful of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms.
- Worried around people or other dogs? Social anxiety leads to a fear of other dogs or people. Even of almost anything that is new or unknown. Some dogs are quite happy in familiar surroundings with their own family but anxious of strangers or new places.
How to help your dog with sadness or depression?
You can help – firstly though, be sure to get your dog checked by your Vet to rule out any other underlying medical problem.
- A sedentary lifestyle can lead to boredom - and weight gain - so try to make sure your dog has regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep him fit and busy in both mind and body.
- Is there a dog-walking group near to you? If so, join up and walk together – you and your dog will make new friends and new experiences. Or maybe a Dog Agility Club if you have a very active breed who needs both physical and mental stimulation too.
- Have you ever tried dog massage? Do some research to discover the correct techniques and you may discover this helps to ease stress and create a sense of calm in your dog – and you!
- Contact a dog clinical behaviourist.