Some people may not think dogs can have depression — they’re animals, not humans. However, as every loving pet owner knows, animals have feelings and can exhibit different moods.

Depression can be triggered for dogs when catastrophic events happen: the loss of a companion pet or the loss of their owner. Dogs are also prone to assessing and mimicking the behavior of their owners. If you’re stressed or depressed, chances are your dog may be picking it up.

John Ciribassi, past president of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, explains dogs can change their personality completely by changing their daily habits and not being as active as they once were. Do those characteristics sound like anyone else you might know? Maybe a sibling, best friend, or spouse, who suffers from depression? Dogs may not be as different from us as we think.

It’s important to rule out medical problems when you start to see changes in behavior, so be sure to visit your veterinarian first if your animal is displaying new, worrisome behavior.

Other symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored are destructive or aggressive behavior, as well as having more household accidents. If your dog is showing signs of aggression and is usually a calmer dog, you need to make sure they get enough exercise. If you don’t see a change in your dog’s behavior, it may be an internal problem. Having more household accidents makes sense if your beloved pooch is eating and drinking more than usual due to an internal problem.

Getting help for your pet is very important, as I’m sure all pet lovers will agree. Seeing your vet is a great way to squelch any worry, as he or she should be your first source of information on any concern. Another way to help sooth your pet is by supplying a little extra TLC. Some extra love, cuddle time, kisses and exercise can go a long way.

If you have recently lost another companion animal, and that’s the cause of your pup’s depression, it just may be a good time to adopt another. Only you can know when you are ready for another dog, but remember this if nothing else: there are so many wonderful dogs and cats that need forever homes waiting at shelters and humane societies. When you’re ready, there will be an abundance of wagging tails and sloppy kisses waiting for you. – Lenae Walters

Lenae has been an animal lover all of her life and has volunteered, as well as worked, at the Licking County Humane Society. She enjoys reading novels in her spare time, as well as running her two lab mixes in the neighborhood park. When she’s not reading, writing, or spending time with her pets, you can bet she’s enjoying time with her family and friends.

Photo Credit: George Hodan

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