Canine depression is real. Yes, just like people, dogs can get depressed. Unfortunately, depression is a very common disorder these days. Of course, there has been a lot of research done on this phenomenon. Thanks to that research, there is some very interesting data regarding canine depression.
Interestingly, dog depression isn’t so different from human depression. Man’s best friend, being the most empathetic animal, suffers in a very similar manner.
Canine Depression Prevention
Preventing these kinds of mental pathologies in our pets is perfectly possible. Experts say it’s good to let the animal develop good behavioral habits. That is the best way to prevent disorders, like anxiety and depression. A dog can be compared to a child when he displays certain attitudes. You need consider his emotional and physical needs.
It’s always best to start with the simple things. Your dog must have proper living conditions. He needs to have healthy food, fresh water, playtime, socialization with other animals, etc. The animal should feel at ease and happy with his life. In reality, it’s quite easy to prevent depression in dogs.
Recreational activities and socialization are fundamental factors for pets. Depending on your dog’s size, he will need to go outside around one and three times a day– and not only to go to the bathroom! During a walk, the dog can exercise, socialize, have fun, and explore his senses.
Psychological factors are important, too. The dog will always need emotional stimuli. Playing with him, talking to him, and giving him attention, are basic ways to do this. Likewise, the animal should feel loved and valued by his family. Don’t forget that most dogs coexist with only humans. Sometimes it can become difficult to adapt to living with another species.
Make sure the animal doesn’t spend too much time alone. This may be the reason why he has anxiety and depression disorders. Dogs are very sociable animals, even more so than humans. If they go too long without company, they get sad and discouraged. After those first symptoms, they will become depressed.
Canine depression treatment
Take immediate action if your dog is already depressed because this disease affects dogs the same way as it does to people. However, it can have worse consequences on canines because dogs are very sensitive. They experience feelings differently– aggression, fear, sadness, euphoria and much more. They are special beings who feel emotions intensely.
If the dog experiences any changes in behavior, it may be a good idea to visit an ethologist. An ethologist is a professional who specializes in animal behavior. He can prescribe proper treatment for canine depression, according to each case. Treatment normally involves changing the animal’s habits.
Treating canine depression involves certain behavior modification techniques. The specialist will visit the animal’s home environment. That way, he can get a clearer idea about the situation. However, the therapeutic process involves a lot of patience, especially on behalf of the pet’s owner.
Positive reinforcement is a technique that has produced very good results. It involves a reinforcement with stimuli for the animal. He will be taught good habits based on rewards, prizes, and signs of affection. The ethologist will guide the animal’s owner so that he/she can get involved in the treatment too.
There are other techniques for more severe cases. Multimodal therapy, for example, that uses antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs. However, this type of solution should only be a last resort. You should work on your animal’s behavioral habits first.
There are other modern alternative therapies that are being taken into consideration. Homeopathy, Bach flowers and acupuncture are a few of them. Either way, the veterinarian should always be the first one to assess the animal.
Dogs usually respond well to behavioral therapies. That isn’t the case with people. The fact that the animal is more sensitive and intuitive makes its emotional disorders easier to treat. Very few cases of canine depression are known to have had lethal consequences. Still, you should always be on the alert, and treat the problem as soon as possible.