What’s more, some dog breeds are at a higher risk of developing emotionally problematic behavior patterns due to their temperament or lack of necessary daily stimulation. As a devoted pet parent, here’s the symptoms to look out for in your four-legged friend, plus how you can help your pooch as happy as possible.
What Causes Depression in Dogs?
As a dog owner, ask yourself: what am I not providing my pet with and what can my dog be going through that could potentially induce stress?
Some of the most common causes of dog depression include:
Physical health problems. When in pain or discomfort due to a physical health problem, dogs can develop excessive stress that can eventually lead to depression. If you notice symptoms like aggression, excessive barking, and growling, or general unusual misbehavior, take your buddy to the vet to check he or she isn’t suffering from an uncomfortable health issue.
Stressful and abrupt routine changes. Dogs don’t enjoy change, especially abrupt and sudden changes like moving, separating from their current owner, loud noises and new people, and traveling. One variety of this issue is separation anxiety, which many dogs experience when grieving for the loss or separation from their best human friend. It mostly manifests in the form of panic attacks due to the absence of the owner.
Your emotional state. Yes, dogs can very much sense if you are depressed or worried. The closer you are, the more empathic the dog will be toward your feelings. Your pooch can sense your mood, behavior and energy level, so if you’re not feeling your perky, happy self, he or she may feel a bit down too.
Dog Breeds Most Prone to Depression and Anxiety
While there are many context-related causes of depression and anxiety in dogs, some breeds are just more likely to suffer from these emotional problems, as their temperament and personality require different approaches and daily habits.
1. Border Collie
These highly intelligent adrenaline junkies thrive when around a lot of people and playing outdoors. For this reason, they are very prone to separation anxiety and don’t take well being left alone for too long. They are also very active, so keeping them indoors most of the time with little or no fun activity can lead to severe anxiety. Rare breed varieties, like the lethal-white Collie, usually suffer from genetic disorders like blindness and partial or complete hearing loss, which can make them extra sensitive and emotionally vulnerable.
2. German Shepherd
These herding dogs are similar to the Border Collies since they also enjoy a lot of exercise, social activities and having a lot of company. Since they belong to large-sized breeds, keeping them in a flat is not a good idea unless you plan to organize plenty of walks. When left alone and sedentary for too long, they can get very nervous and upset, which is eventually what makes them depressed.
3. Cocker Spaniel
These hunting canines very much enjoy being engaged and played with all the time, which is why they are prone to developing a high-attachment disorder. To prevent your Cocker from being too clingy, start teaching him or her from an early age the importance of separation time.
This way you’ll be able to prevent severe anxiety and depression these dogs tend to experience often.
4. Basset Hounds
Although their droopy eyes and slowness give them a melancholy look, Basset Hounds are very social dogs that were bred for hunting and scavenging. If not given enough attention and love, these loyal and devoted pooches can easily suffer from separation anxiety.
5. Labrador Retriever
This much-loved family dog takes solitude and lack of activity very hard. They are used to affection and human contact, so they easily get bored and slide into depression. Make sure to exercise and play with your Labrador as much as possible to avoid any disruptive behavior.
How to Treat Depression and Anxiety in Dogs
Dogs instinctively incline towards things that make them happy and satisfied. This makes your job as an owner easier, as all you have to do to help your animal companion is make their living environment as engaging as possible.
What’s more, you will naturally need to spend more time with your depressed dog, to work on its self-esteem, trust and bonding ability. Socialization and companionship are very important in canine mental and emotional health, and research has proven that puppies who develop strong relationships with their owner grow up to be more emotionally healthy and stable adult dogs.
That said, dogs that are naturally more attached to their humans need to be taught from an early age that separation is a normal thing and that some periods of the day they need to be left on their own.
Luckily, canine emotional disorders are not as complex and layered as humans’, so there are ways you can help your furry friend overcome depression by understanding the cause of the problem and what the dog actually needs to get back to its natural happy-go-lucky state.