Best Methods to Cheer Up a Sad, Depressed Dog
Dogs can become depressed, and sometimes they do need to be cheered up.
Why bother? As we have learned from human medicine, depression can have a lot of side effects. A depressed dog is more likely to contract an illness, and if your dog is depressed sometimes he will not be able to get better.
Depression may be an everyday occurrence; some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and will become stressed and depressed every time they realize they are about to be locked away alone. Depression might happen only once in a while, like when something special upsets your dog.(A new baby in the house?)
Depression may be a very unusual happening (hopefully once in a lifetime) like the death of a special playmate, or even a human family member.
You can deal with all of them.
How Do I Know My Dog Is Depressed?
If your dog is depressed you will most likely see the following signs:
· Sleeping excessively.
· No interest in going for walks.
· No interest in playing with a ball or old toys.
· Eating much less or more than normal.
Ways To Cheer Up Your Dog
Did you read those symptoms of depression? They are also the symptoms for many disease problems.
If your dog is showing clinical signs of depression, you should have him examined by your local vet. He may want to do bloodwork to make sure there are no internal organ problems. Since some of the symptoms of depression are so similar to arthritis, he may want to do x-rays. If no abnormalities are found, these are a few things you can try:
· If you can take your dog for a walk in the morning, when the sun is shining, it should help him throughout the day. If this is not something you do set your alarm a half hour earlier in the morning. Your dog´s well being is worth those few minutes of sleep.
· Spend extra time with him. As I mentioned above, this should really be walking, even if it is only in the normal times and areas.
· Take your dog away to a new place. I do not mean that you should take him for a ride in the car. This needs to be a walk, a long walk if you both can handle it (this is not always easy with a depressed dog), so that he gets plenty of exercise and comes home and sleeps.
· Take some special treats with you when you go for a walk. When your dog is playing ball or acting normal praise him lavishly, and give him some of those treats. It is possible that your dog will associate acting normal with rewards. (Using this same logic, you do not want to go up and give him treats when he is acting depressed.)
· Bring him home a new toy. As well as distracting him, a new toy might make your dog happy. This should be the kind of toy that you both will interact with.
· Play music for your dog. This is a controversial topic and some behaviorists think it has no effect whatsoever. Maybe not, but it will not hurt.
· Dogs are social animals. If you really are not able to take much time away from your regular schedule, sometimes a new puppy helps. This is not always a solution, however, and if you do get a second dog and your older dog becomes more depressed you should be sure you can take him back to the breeder if you have to rehome him.
The last alternative
If his examination and bloodwork is acceptable, your vet may recommend medical therapy. Prozac and Zoloft can be prescribed for your dog.
I suggest you try behavioral changes first and then try drugs later. Even if you do have to resort to the medications, you need to realize that these drugs take a long time to start working.
Behavioral therapies might be more effective. If you start the drugs right away, you will never know if the dog responded to them or to the improvements you made to his lifestyle. They have several serious side effects, so for the sake of your dog, I would prefer families handle this problem naturally if at all possible.
More About Your Dog...
- How to Get a Dog to Relax
Is your dog bouncing off the walls? These four techniques will help relax ALMOST any dog. Give them a try.
- My Dog Is Jealous
Dogs have emotions. Jealousy is one of the strongest, and when your dog feels it she may do all sorts of funny things. This article lists a few tips to deal with the emotion if it becomes a problem in your house.