depressed dog

Do you think your dog may be depressed? Here are 6 simple ways to keep him off the shrink’s couch.

We’ve all passed through times in our lives that bring us down, when we feel there’s nothing we can do to make it better. In some cases, we call it depression. Unfortunately, mental health issues have become a common diagnosis in the human world. But can dogs get depressed too?

Dogs are social animals and have feelings just like we do. As such, they can also get depressed. The reasons can range from loneliness or a lack of stimulation to a dietary imbalance. You can recognize a depressed dog by his low energy, diminished enthusiasm or a refusal to eat. He may engage in unwanted behaviors when you’re not at home, such as howling, excessive barking or chewing up your favorite blanket.

As always, whenever your dog starts acting out of character, the first step is to take him to the veterinarian for a check-up. Many physical ailments can mimic depression – for example, a dog that feels sick or in pain may refuse to eat or exercise. It’s important to rule out illness or injury before assuming your dog is depressed. If the vet can find nothing physically wrong, try these five tips for cheering up your canine companion.

1. Keep the radio on.

If you’re away from home for long periods, leave the radio or TV on. No, it’s not green, but your best friend’s happiness is at stake! Hearing voices makes your dog feel less alone and may ease separation anxiety. You can also get DVDs and CDs designed specifically for dogs that need some form of distraction when left alone.

2. Always make daily time for your dog.

The fastest way to a depressed dog is to ignore him. Take him for a walk at least once a day. Talk to him, provide him with toys and always have something for him to do. An idle dog is a bored dog. And a bored dog is on his way to big time depression.

3. Be alert for destructive behavior.

This includes howling at night and too much barking. These are stress signs and usually mean something’s wrong. When these behaviors surface, it’s time to give your dog more attention.

4. Keep his brain busy.

Hide healthy treats and goodies around the house for your dog to find. It’ll help keep him happy and occupied. Kong toys stuffed with treats are another good option.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you’re simply not able to fulfill your dog’s needs for company and stimulation, hire a pet sitter or dog walker. If your dog is having fun all day, he’ll be free of depression and separation anxiety. If all else fails, consult a holistic veterinarian or an animal behaviorist for extra assistance elevating his mood and restoring his well-being.

Yes, you’re busy. You’ve got a job, a family and a tight schedule. All the same, your dog should not be left alone and bored out of his mind for hours on end. Remember, he’s a social animal. He needs to spend time with people, make friends with other dogs, and have fun!