Do Dogs Get Depression? Here are the most common mental health issues adorable dogs suffer from - and how to treat them 🐶

Owning a pet has been shown to benefit our mental health – but what happens when it’s our four-legged friends that are struggling?

While we have come a long way in understanding mental health in humans and how to treat it, the same can’t be said for our beloved pets.

New research released from personalised online pet store Yappy.com has revealed that one in five dogs suffer from anxiety or depression – with 27% of pet owners claiming their mood affects their pet’s mood, and worrying about the impact it is having on their mental health.

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Pets help our mental health in so many ways, whether that’s adding a structure to our day, helping us to meet new people, reducing anxiety and boosting our self-confidence, increasing physical activity or simply just providing companionship, they deserve to have the same in return.

John Smith, Pet Expert and Founder of Yappy.com, explains: “It might come as quite a shock to many people that pets can suffer from mental health issues – although they have a different body and mind to us, surprisingly they do suffer from similar behavioural issues to us. It’s only right that we look after our furry friends, after all they do so much to benefit our own mental health.”

Here are the most common mental health issues suffered by dogs and what we can do to help them.

Depression

Unfortunately, depression is more common in our pets than we might think. The most common signs that a pet is depressed are: they seem sad, they seem lethargic/their energy levels have decreased, their appetite has changed, or they don’t crave attention as much as they used to.

Just like humans, dogs can struggle with their mental health.

The good news is that depression in pets is normally temporary and caused by a major life change, such as moving home and not feeling settled.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is the most common mental health issue in pets, in fact at least one in 10 suffer (11%) with the condition. Separation anxiety often occurs when pets become too reliant on spending time with their owner and suddenly get less attention than usual (especially apparent in our poor lockdown pets!)

If your pet is whining excessively, scratching (themselves or the furniture), destroying items, or pacing in circles any time they are left alone, they could be suffering from separation anxiety.

Noise anxiety

This is one we all know quite well, many pets are anxious of loud noises, whether that be fireworks, thunderstorms or loud music. As many as one in three (33%) of pets are scared of fireworks, and common signs include hiding, trembling, whimpering/whining, and pacing back and forth or in circles.

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder

“Pets don’t get diagnosed with OCD like humans, but feelings of anxiety, fear, boredom, and frustration can all lead to compulsive behaviours, such as excessive grooming, pacing, and whining.

OCD is common in pets who aren’t getting as much attention as they’d like – it’s important to remember that if they’re a solo pet, you’re solely responsible for all of their attention! That’s not to say blame yourself, just give them those extra cuddles when you can.

How can I treat them?

Although the treatment varies depending on how much your pet is suffering, there are numerous things you can do to help them.

Lifestyle adjustments: if you have a big move coming up, you’re starting a new job, or you’re welcoming a new family member, just remember that getting used to these things take time. Gradually get them comfortable with situations without overwhelming them – show them around the new home before moving in day, practice spending less time with them for that new job, or slowly introduce baby items/noises to get them used to it.

Train them to modify behaviour: if you’re wanting to help change your pet’s reaction to people or sounds, train them! Whether or not you invest in a professional trainer is up to you.

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Supplements: various supplements are available to purchase should your pet require them. Why not try our veterinary approved calming supplement for dogs?

Seek help from a medical professional: if you’re really worried about your pet, it’s always best to seek advice from a medical professional, as they will be able to get to the root of the problem and will advise on the best course of action to treat it.”

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