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Depression and Anxiety in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments

Depression and Anxiety in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments

Dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression, much like humans. Today, our Redding vets share the symptoms to look for and how you can help your canine companion cheer up.

As proud pet parents, it shouldn't surprise you that dogs are intelligent, emotional creatures. As such, they are indeed capable of suffering from depression and anxiety much as humans can.

What Causes Depression And Anxiety In Dogs?

A dog's life can sometimes undergo a major change or distressing event that can bring on symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

For example, the loss of its owner or a companion animal, or even a sense of grief being experienced by those around them, can all affect a dog's overall emotions. 

Big life changes, such as a move to a new house, a new baby, or a new pet, may also have an impact on a dog's sense of stability. Generally, any significant alteration to your dog’s daily routine may bring on symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Depression?

The symptoms of depression in dogs are like those displayed by humans.

Some common signs of depression in dogs include becoming less active, losing interest in things they once enjoyed, and a change in eating and/or sleeping habits.

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

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Anxiety?

Signs of a dog exhibiting anxiety may include trembling, tail-tucking, hiding, reduced activity, and passive attempts to escape. They may also experience signs of panic including panting, pacing, and active escape behavior. 

Physical symptoms of anxiety in dogs could include abnormal sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity, like diarrhea, or skin irritations/lesions causing them to lick or bite their own body. 

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, given time. The dog and the situation affecting them will influence how long it could take for them to recover, ranging from 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. 

Some of the following techniques could help your dog feel better:

  • Offer your dog more attention, ensuring to reward signs of happiness, such as a wagging tail.
  • Encourage your dog to stay 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 how severe your dog's symptoms are, your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-anxiety medication and 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.

To learn more about anxiety and depression in dogs, or to talk about options for treatment, contact our Redding vets to book an appointment today. 

New Patients Welcome

Dana Park Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Redding companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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