Spotting the signs of depression in dogs

Dog lovers have been offered advice on how to spot the sins in depression in their four-legged friends.

The animal experts at Pure Pet Food have teamed up with their resident vet, Dr Andrew Miller to look at the signs and symptoms of depression in dogs.

They believe that just like humans, dogs can display withdrawn, depressive behaviours that can lead to inactivity and altering their sleeping and eating habits.

There are a number of triggers which can cause depression in dogs. The most common is a loss of companion in the family home – so another dog, cat or other pet that has passed away.

The second is the loss of an owner. The dog will need time to grieve and come to terms with the change of a dynamic in the home.

Other triggers include moving, a new baby or an addition to the household, changes to routine or empathy for an owner who is feeling depressed or unhappy.

They suggest a number of ways to help pets, including rewarding happy behaviours, more walks and exercise and a healthy, nutritious diet.

Pure’s resident small animal vet, Dr Andrew Miller said: “Just like humans, it’s sensible to assume that our four-legged friends can suffer from depression. There are some obvious signs to look out for. Becoming inactive and withdrawn are all classic symptoms as is a change in eating and sleeping patterns.

“Dogs can often lose their appetite in these circumstances, just like us. If an owner recognises any of these, then the first thing to do is to get their dog checked by a vet to rule out any underlying health problems.

“It’s then all about encouraging your dog to take part in activities they love. That could be more walks or runs through the woods and playing with their favourite toys. Rewarding these behaviours with treats is a good way to reinforce these positive steps.

“It is easy for owners to fall into the trap or giving their pets treats to help lift them out of the depressive state, but all this succeeds in doing in reinforcing those behaviours – something you definitely don’t want to do.”

Dr Miller continues: “The key really is to get your dog out more, playing with other animals and making sure they drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. Maintaining a regular feeding pattern is important even if your dog has lost their appetite. Perhaps try serving smaller portions or keeping any leftovers in the fridge.

“It’s important that the diet is well balanced and contains all the nutrients your dog will need to send them on the road to recovery. Fish, eggs and poultry are all good as they contain tryptophan which helps increase serotonin levels and lifts your pup’s mood.”

A spokesperson from PurePetFood.com, said: “We’ve worked closely with vets and pet nutritionists to develop our range of dehydrated and freeze-dried pet foods. They’re all created from fresh ingredients, including chicken, eggs, fish and vegetables and contain all the essential minerals and nutrients your dog needs.

“The range has proved to be very popular with pets suffering from a range of ailments and allergies like stomach sensitivities, IBS, Pancreatitis and fussiness.”