Depression is a medical illness that affects how humans feel, think, and act. It is a daily struggle and for most, it means losing interest in their favorite activities. Symptoms range from mild to chronic conditions that will affect a human’s daily life.
According to research conducted by the U.K. Charity Guide Dogs, nearly 75% of dogs may display symptoms of anxiety or depression. However, depression in dogs is not exactly the same as clinical depression in humans, but they do feel blues, sadness, and grief.
What are the signs of depression in dogs?
Unlike humans, dogs can’t directly tell us what they are feeling. So when they are feeling under the weather, or experiencing mental health problems, it will show through body language and behavior.
Here are some signs to know if your Shiba Inu is depressed.
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in their favorite activities (walks, play time)
- Destructive behavior
- Needy behavior
- Withdrawn or distant behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns
Causes of Depression in Dogs
Depression in dogs is caused by a major change in their life, such as changes in their environment or social situations.
Dogs are creatures of habit so significant changes in their routine or surroundings can cause stress.
Here are the common causes of your dog’s depression.
- Loss of an owner or a pet companion
- Environment changes (moving, rehoming, or addition of a new baby or pet)
- Major change in schedule
- Lack of physical or mental stimulation
- Trauma from injury, disease, or abuse
- Socially isolated for long periods
Additionally, dogs are also empathic to their humans. They respond to the moods of their owners and can recognize human facial expressions and body language so some dogs show signs of depression when their owners are also depressed.
How to Help Your Depressed Shiba Inu
Like humans, depression is different for every dog. And like all other health conditions, it is important to know the roots of the symptoms.
Fortunately, dogs are resilient creatures and even a small change can bring huge improvement to their mental health.
Here are a few ideas you can do to help your depressed dog.
- Playdates. If your dog has lost his companion, having them play or engage with another pooch can help. You can adopt another pet, but make sure that the new dog is the right fit for you and your lifestyle.
- Mental and physical stimulation. Take your dog on longer walks, play games with them consistently, give them toys that are mentally stimulating like puzzles, and always encourage and invite them to play their favorite activities.
- Make sure they are eating. A topper to the food can encourage your dog to eat. Do this temporarily or gradually as sudden changes in their diet can cause digestion issues.
- Give them ‘me’ time. This does not mean locking them up in a kennel or leaving them alone at home. But alone time where they can enjoy playing with their toy or activity.
When to see the veterinarian
Though dog depression can be treated with a few of the ideas mentioned, some signs need the veterinarian’s attention.
- Not eating
- Stopped or no improvement
- Has other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea
There are rare circumstances where the stress caused by depression can lead to underlying health issues.
If your dog’s depression is not improving, consult your veterinarian.