If your dog isn’t their cheerful and energetic self, you may be suspecting depression. Man’s best friend can become withdrawn and unhappy for different reasons just like people.
Dogs experience similar emotions and/or chemical imbalances in their brains. Symptoms will surface behaviorally including changes in sleeping, eating habits, inactivity and altered mood.
Antidepressants are commonly used among people for treating depression. The question is can dogs be helped with these medications and if not what are the alternatives? Let’s get down to details regarding dogs and depression.
Can I Give My Dog Something For Depression? Answer: Yes, with vet approval
It can be treated once the underlying reason(s) for the depression are known.
Your dog’s problem may not actually be depression. Occasionally I give my dogs something called Happy, a natural electrolyte supplement which is way safer than prescription drugs. It seems to work well for them during stressful situations.
Assessing K9 Depression
The best way to treat doggie depression is with a proper assessment and diagnosis. It could be that they just need some positive reinforcement through the effective use of treats. Also, lack of quality time doing what they love to do (ie. being outdoors) may be a factor.
On the other hand, imbalances of chemicals in the brain are something that do typically require medication. Dogs can take human antidepressant medication in smaller doses than us humans to treat serious symptoms. These powerful drugs which are designed for humans so you need to get vet approval as well as the proper dosage.
Don’t take it upon yourself to start giving your dog any of your anti-depression meds!
More on Dog Depression
Separation anxiety is a common behavioral issue in canines. Having an unpredictable schedule or being away from home for long periods of time can trigger this form of depression. Did you recently change your schedule or relocate? Some dogs don’t deal well with this and depression can set in. A change in owners, abuse, the death of a family member, poor adaptability to various circumstances and even the weather can also play a factor.
Popular SSRIs for Dogs
Antidepressants, such as Prozac, aren’t designed for animals. They can easily cause lethargy and vomiting. Serotonin syndrome can also develop leading to high body temperature, agitation, tremors, high heart rate, disorientated behavior and even seizures. Read about drugs like Ativan and Celexa. Talk to your vet about antidepressant medications specifically formulated and approved for dogs.
Another Treatment Option
Clomipramine is approved for treating separation anxiety in dogs. This drug is recommended since it helps with anxiety disorders, moodiness, obsessive compulsive disorders and some other behavioral issues. Remember, medication such as this doesn’t reverse depression, rather it masks it by making dogs feel more relaxed and calm.
If your pooch ingested a prescription drug, such as an SSRI antidepressant, immediately visit a veterinary professional. Depending on the dose, it could be serious as these medications are potent. Bring the pill bottle with you so the professional can properly access the situation.
Assessing Your Priorities
People lead busy lives and sometimes neglect their dogs to some degree. If you’re away from home all day this can affect their outlook. Try to improve the situation and get outside with your dog more often. Look them in the eyes and provide positive reinforcement.
Depression is often a product of subconsciously questioning acceptance and love. Don’t wait until your dog becomes hardened in their disposition. Be as attentive to them as they are to you. Try a new toy or treat to show them that you still care. It’s amazing how emotionally sensitive dogs can be.
Conclusion on K9 Depression
Try to treat your dog’s depression without using meds. Improve their mood with extra care and companionship. This is often easier said than done but worth trying. Behavioral modification or a training program could decrease your dog’s doldrums. If your pet isn’t exactly depressed but you think they have anxiety or sadness, there are better solutions. For example, one of my dogs gets nervous during thunderstorms so we sometimes put a Thundershirt on her.