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Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & How To Help

Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & How To Help

Sometimes our canine companions can feel a little blue. While the occasional sign isn't usually a concern, there are times when you should reach out to your vet. Our Montecito vets talk about some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety in dogs and when you should schedule an exam.

Depression and Anxiety Affecting Dogs

Does your dog not seem like themself lately? Do you think that your dog may be anxious or depressed?

Here are some of the typical signs of anxiety or depression in dogs. If you notice three or more of the following symptoms you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination right away. 

Symptoms of Depression in Dogs

    • Disinterest in playing with people or toys
    • 'Sad' expression
    • Lack of energy
    • Avoiding you or hiding
    • Growling, howling or aggression
    • Sleeping too much
    • Decreased appetite
    • Not sleeping

Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

    • Destructive chewing or destroying furniture
    • Obsessive paw licking
    • Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
    • Panting for no reason
    • Pacing aimlessly
    • Whimpering, trembling, or whining

What are the causes of depression in dogs?

Keeping a routine is important to your furry friend. This means that when something in their life changes, it can throw everything off balance leading to changes in their behavior.

While obviously, emotional events such as their owner’s death or prolonged absence can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression in dogs, other less extreme events such as a move to a new home, injury or illness, change in routine, or even a new pet or person in the home could be the cause of your pup's case of the blues.

What can you do to help your dog?

Anxious or depressed dogs benefit from predictable routines and environments, closely monitored social interaction and lots of physical activity. Below are a few more tips on how to help reduce your dog's depression:

Bring Your Dog in For a Checkup

Some symptoms linked to depression and anxiety may actually be caused by serious medical conditions, some of which can be life-threatening and require emergency veterinary care. The first thing you should do if your dog doesn't seem happy is to schedule a visit with your vet.

Although dogs will often recover from depression with just a little extra love and attention from their pet parent, your veterinarian can provide medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.

Give Your Dog Some Attention 

Bored pets often get into mischief, and become anxious or depressed. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy and help curb dog anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your dog's body and mind active while you're out of the house.

Let Them Play With Other Pets and People

Dogs generally love to spend time around people or other animals. If your dog seems lonely and sad try taking your pooch to the dog park, group classes or doggie daycare for additional social interaction. You may even want to consider getting a companion animal for your dog.

Show Them Patience

Dogs need lots of love and patience to feel safe and contented - even more so if they are feeling depressed or anxious. By giving your pup a little extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are concerned that your dog is feeling more than just a little down or that there may be more to the issue, contact our vets in Montecito to schedule an examination.

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