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Contributed by Vetted Pet Care

Note from the Editor: This blog was contributed by the team of mobile vets at Vetted Pet Care, as part of SmartyPaws partnership with them. Vetted works with a team of veterinarians in your neighborhood able to deliver house calls and at-home pet care for your four-legged family members.

Why the long face? Does your canine counterpart seem a little off lately? Dogs can suffer from depression just like humans.

But for dog owners, understanding the signs of depression in your dog is a matter of knowing what to look for, which we’ll get to below.

Mental health issues are actually quite common in dogs, particularly in those who suffer from separation anxiety.

We asked our friends at Vetted PetCare for tips on how to tell if your dog is depressed and what can be done to fix it.

What causes depression in dogs?

There are a lot of factors that can lead a seemingly-stable dog to canine depression. The most prevalent cause of dog depression is loss of a companion, whether human or canine. Dogs are emotionally dependent animals, so a pup who loses a family member they love is predisposed to becoming withdrawn and detached.

Many dogs also become depressed as a result of extreme boredom from being left home alone all day.

Drastic changes in routine, such as a move to a new city or a human starting a demanding job, can also wreak havoc on a dog’s emotional state. Dogs can even suffer seasonal depression as weather patterns shift!

How to tell if your dog is depressed

Just like human depression, dog depression isn’t always easy to diagnose. Depression isn’t just “sadness” - most symptoms are behavioral, and they’re often quite subtle. Here are a few symptoms of depression to look out for:

  • Apathy or disinterest in formerly-beloved activities
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Sleeping a lot or changes in sleeping habits
  • Excessive licking or grooming
  • Loses interest in or refusal to participate in physical exercise
  • Hiding and social withdrawal

If you notice any of the symptoms above, you’re right to be concerned. Your first step should be contacting your veterinarian for a full evaluation.

Many chronic illnesses and medical conditions in dogs have symptoms that mimic those of depression.

As a result, it’s important to ensure your dog isn’t experiencing a physical problem right off the bat. You might also want to consider seeing a veterinary behaviorist for help on how to have a happy dog.

Ways to help

Lean on your vet for advice on the best way to treat your dog’s specific kind of depression. While there’s no cure-all, natural remedy for every dog, in many cases, resolving the issue can be as simple as hiring a dog walker, making more trips to the dog park or spending more time outdoors.

In general, dogs with depression respond well to additional playtime, more walks and a consistently healthy diet. If yours doesn’t, ask your vet whether multifunctional dog health supplements or even prescription medication may be able to help.

Sometimes just a little extra quality time with your furry BFF is all you need to help warm their heart and yours.

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