If you’ve ever thought your dog was depressed, you could be right. Both dog depression and anxiety do exist.
Here are some suggestions to treat depression naturally in dogs. But first, what are some symptoms and causes of dog depression?
Symptoms Of Dog Depression
Some signs your dog is depressed may include …
- Change in behavior or demeanor
- Lack of energy
- Lack of appetite
- Change in sleeping habits
- Acting clingy or needy
- Lack of interest in play, walks or fun activities
Note: If your dog seems depressed, always make sure you rule out physical causes for depression. Dogs can act depressed if they’re in pain or not feeling well.
Dog Depression Causes
If you’ve ruled out physical causes for your dog’s depression, the three main culprits that could send your dog into a tailspin are:
- Loss of a family member
- Lack of purpose
Dogs can grieve just like we do.
If your dogs are especially close, you may notice grieving in your dog when the other dies. Sometimes dogs may pick up on their owner’s feelings. But other times you will notice behavior changes in your dog that show she’s grieving the loss of her best buddy.
Or your dog may grieve the loss of a human. This can happen even if a close family member is away in hospital for a while.
Homeopathic Remedy for Depression Due To Grief
If your dog is depressed because he’s grieving the loss of a family member, the homeopathic remedy Ignatia amara may help. Buy a 30C potency, and give your dog a dose once a day for about 3 days. Ignatia is a remedy that helps with any symptoms that arise from grief.
Hopefully your dog has more to do in life than wait for you to come home or finish working at your desk. Television and food aren’t enough to occupy him. Dogs do need to do more than just lie around all day.
If you don’t have time to get your dog out for walks, hire a dog walker or arrange doggie playdates for him. You can also play games to provide him with entertainment and mental stimulation.
#3 Lack of Purpose
Most dogs don’t have jobs like they used to. Dogs used to hunt, work on the farm or look after children, other animals or the house. Nowadays dogs can’t even bark to let you know someone is near the house … or the neighbors complain.
Dogs need purpose just like we do.
How To Help Dog Depression
Here are some simple ways to help your dog feel better …
Exercise is a natural antidepressant for your dog! You may remember as a kid, telling your Mom, “I’m depressed.” And your Mom’s answer was probably something like … “Get out of the house and get some fresh air. Walk, run, skate or ride a bike or play with your brother, but get out and do something for at least 30 minutes!”
It turns out exercise helps reduce and may even prevent depression. In 2018, the HUNT Cohort study, involving more than 33,000 adults, estimated …
“12% of future cases of depression could have been prevented if all participants had engaged in at least 1 hour of physical activity each week.” (1)Exercise and the Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study
Other studies (2) have also shown that exercise can help boost the immune system. The lymph system is activated by motion. The lymph system’s nodes, vessels and ducts are major players in the immune system, capable of filtering out and killing unwanted bacteria and organisms.
And remember the increased oxygen intake helps every process in the body, so get out there with your dog and DO something.
Exercise with Purpose: Give Your Dog A Bone!
This is a different kind of exercise but I love the effect it has on my dogs.
Raw meaty bones! Aside from being nutritious, they exercise the jaw, neck and shoulders, help keep teeth clean and keep your dog focused on a task. Think about it. They twist and turn it, hold it in different positions and decide the best way to get the job done while thoroughly enjoying themselves.
And a happy dog is more apt to be a healthy dog as well.
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A Happy Dog is a Healthy Dog
These are simple ways to naturally help depression in your dog. This “medicine” is free and has only positive side effects. How long it lasts depends on the patient, but extra doses do no harm whatsoever.
Remember, your dog’s walks are one of the highlights of his day … and now you know exercise can help him if he feels depressed too.
- Harvey SB, Øverland S, Hatch SL, Wessely S, Mykletun A, Hotopf M. Exercise and the Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study. Am J Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 1;175(1):28-36.
- Campbell JP, Turner JE. Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan. Front Immunol. 2018;9:648. Published 2018 Apr 16.