Like humans, dogs occasionally suffer from spells of depression and may need medication. This frequently occurs when there is more than one dog in a household and one suddenly dies. The surviving dog or dogs may become lethargic, drink only small amounts of water, stop eating and sometimes lose weight. They may no longer want to play with you and will shun your attention.
It’s not always the death of another dog that can set off a bout of depression. Even the weather can adversely affect a normally happy dog. Sometimes depression in a dog can also be caused by a chemical imbalance, requiring medication to correct the problem.
As a pet owner the first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Once you’ve ruled out all the possible physical causes for your dog’s depression, it’s time to start looking for mental sources.
Has your pet recently lost a friend? Was there another dog he played who is now gone, perhaps on vacation, or passed on to dog heaven.
Has there been a recent death in the family? The death of a household occupant, whether or not that person was close to the animal, is often a reason for canine depression.
We may not notice it very often, but pets do grieve, and it can be difficult to snap them out of it.
If the depression seems to worsen and whatever you do does not change the mood of your dog, ask your vet about anti-depressants. Depression may not seem like a big deal for an animal, but if left untreated for a long time it could cause a life-threatening physical condition.
To help you decide if your depressed dog needs medication, have your veterinarian do a physical exam on your pet for dog pain. While prescribing Prozac or a similar anti-depressant may benefit your pet, it won’t help if your dog has contracted a disease like Canine Coronavirus or Distemper resulting in lethargy and a loss of interest in normal things.
If your vet determines that depression is the cause of your dog’s behavior, he or she may recommend medication like Prozac for dogs or another dog-safe anti-depressant. You might try increasing your own activity level and involve your dog in your exercise routine, whether it is walking or jogging.
If the grief is a result of the loss of another dog, and you’re not ready to add another canine companion to the household at this time, you might want to try a doggy day care center where your pet could spend a few hours a day playing and interacting with other dogs.
Depressed dogs are no fun to have around your house. The sooner you make an appointment with the vet to see if your dog needs medication, the sooner your dog can return to a healthy life.