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Treating Anxiety & Depression In Dogs

Treating Anxiety & Depression In Dogs

It might not surprise you to learn that dogs can suffer from anxiety and depression the same way humans can. Our Poway vets are here to share the signs and what you can do for your pooch.

Dogs are emotional creatures and therefore are capable of suffering from depression and anxiety. This is because they are intelligent creatures who, like humans, experience a range of emotions.

The Causes Of Anxiety & Depression In Dogs

A major change or a distressing event in a dog’s life can sometimes bring on symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

For example, the loss of its owner or a companion animal, or even a sense of grief being experienced by those around them, can all affect a dog's overall emotions. 

Major changes to their life or daily routine, such as a move to a new house, a new baby or a new pet, may also have an impact on a dog's emotions. Generally, any significant change to your dog’s daily routine may bring on symptoms of depression or anxiety. 

Diagnosing Your Dog With Anxiety or Depression

The general symptoms that can indicate that your dog has anxiety or depression are very similar to those experienced by people.

Common symptoms include low activity levels, a loss of interest in the things they once enjoyed, and a change in eating and/or sleeping habits. Some dogs may also show signs of aggression, including uncharacteristic howling or whining.

To be 100% sure that your dog has one of these conditions, speak to your vet. This can allow them to determine why your pup might be feeling this way and provide them with treatment.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Anxiety?

Signs of anxiety in dogs may include trembling, tail-tucking, hiding, reduced activity and passive escape behaviors. They may also experience signs of panic including panting, pacing and active escape behavior. 

Physical symptoms of anxiety in dogs may include sympathetic autonomic nervous system activity, like diarrhea, or lesions causing them to lick or bite their own body. 

How Can I Help Treat My Dog's Depression Or Anxiety?

The good news is that dogs can actually overcome their depression and anxiety without your intervention. Depending on the dog and the situation, it can take anywhere from days to months. No matter what, the love and care of their owners, and sometimes some guidance from your veterinarian, can help them overcome the blues. 

Pet owners can try the following techniques:

  • Offer your dog more attention. But wait until you see some signs of happiness, like a wagging tail, and reward them for that behavior.
  • Keep your dog active with regular walks, playtimes, and other activities you know they enjoy.
  • If your dog's symptoms are related to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet or start socializing them with other pets.

Depending on how bad your dog's symptoms are, your vet might be able to prescribe anti-anxiety medication as well as recommend behavior management techniques.

In some cases, depression and/or anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition in a dog. If your pet has not recently experienced a major life change or distressing event, talk to your veterinarian about what else could be troubling them.

If your dog has severe anxiety or depression and it is affecting their health, or they've severely injured themselves as a result, contact our Poway emergency vets immediately for urgent care. 

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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(858) 748-7387