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October 15, 2016

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Is Your Dog Depressed?

Is Your Dog Depressed?


The issue of mental health is one that advocates have had to work hard to get into the public eye. Some sceptics go through life with the mindset that if it can’t be seen, it can’t be diagnosed. Even though the massive weight of medical science leans against them, this belief does persist in some areas. Even today, some people are afraid to speak of their issues for fear of a cynical reaction.


So it would be a brave step to raise the issue of mental health in pets. Yet, here we are. If you accept that pets have emotions – and if you don’t, there seems little point having them – then you surely accept they can go both ways. And sometimes, our pets aren’t as sparkly and enthusiastic as they usually are. In short, should your dog be more restrained in affection, less enthusiastic, the cause may not be physical.


Is Your Dog Depressed?


Sometimes, like humans, dogs just feel down


It sounds like a clickbait article or a front-page headline designed to get you to buy a magazine. But the fact of the matter is that pets do get depressed. And even the cheeriest dog in the world can sometimes feel low. Sometimes they’re just bored, and a toy or two will liven them up. Other times, it’s more.


Signs that they are depressed may be that their appetite is off and they don’t show enthusiasm for a walk. A tell-tale sign to look out for is if your dog licks and bites their paws – this can be an attempt to self-soothe when they feel depressed. Additionally, if your dog hides a lot and shuns interaction, it’s a concern.


Some of these signs may just be because your dog is physically feeling under the weather. Because we can’t ask them, if behaviours like this persist it’s wise to consult a vet for advice.


Does Your Dog Have OCD?


Obsessive compulsive disorder is a hugely detrimental condition in humans. A person with the condition will be assailed by thoughts and behaviours they can’t control. Can a dog get OCD? Well, technically no, as we can’t know what they are thinking. But they can indeed show compulsive behaviours.


Chasing their tail is fine, but if it goes on for too long it’s an issue


If your dog is doing those same doggy things, like chasing its tail, biting at flies or barking for longer than usual, investigate. Disturbing life events and changes in routine can trigger these behaviours. If left unchecked they can worsen, to the point where the dog hurts itself. So if your dog is showing signs, speak to a vet to work things out.


Does Your Dog Have ADHD?


In humans, ADHD exhibits itself as an inability to focus on one thing, impulsivity, and indiscipline. In dogs, that’s called “being a dog.” But there is a canine equivalent to ADHD called Hyperkinesis.


This exhibits itself as extreme alertness even in stable situations, and distracted behaviour. Your dog may prowl and pace a lot, and wander off while playing. It’s not fun for them, and if they show signs over a period of a week or more, it’s worth getting them checked out.


As with humans, there are treatments available to help a dog with a mental health issue. These range from behavioural therapy to medication. Many of the same drugs that are given to humans are in fact also available in veterinary doses. It may seem odd that our pets may need to be on such medication but, again as with humans, it can help them get back to their normal, happy selves.