Why is My Dog Depressed?

 

Depression isn’t typically diagnosed in dogs, but veterinarians and behaviorists know the signs of depressive behavior well. But because we can’t ask dogs why they’re behaving this way, it’s important to pay attention to the context around this behavior and know the common causes. Here are 5 reasons why your dog might be acting depressed.

1. Lack Of Attention

There’s a reason why dogs are often saddest in the morning before you leave for work and happiest when you walk in the door after—they want to be around you. Dogs are social animals and love to be with people. Many are left alone long hours without access to human contact, access to bathroom facilities, or an outlet for their energy or natural instincts.

This can lead to depressive behavior, but for many owners, there’s not much they can do about their job schedules. That’s why it’s important to spend quality time with your dog when you can, and that can take many different forms, including physical activity, mental stimulation, brushing, petting, or any other number of activities.

2. Not Enough Exercise

Physical stimulation is important for a dog’s overall health, but your dog’s exercise routine must also sufficiently meet his or her emotional needs. A fenced-in yard can’t replace a regular walk with new smells and sights and sounds.

A good baseline for exercise is a total of five miles of walking per week, but that varies from dog to dog depending on his or her age and energy level. It’s more important to let your dog take her time and enjoy the surroundings, even if that means you just do one block over 20 or 30 minutes.

3. Death Of Family Member Or Fellow Pet

This is one of the most common reasons for depressive behavior in dogs. Unfortunately, it’s also probably the most difficult to deal with because the source of the behavior is irreplaceable. In the case of losing another pet in the house, some respond well to the addition of a new pet, while others will remain depressive, wanting only the company of the one who’s gone.

As for the loss of a human family member, research has shown that a dog’s bond with her owners is similar to a baby’s bond with her parents. Other family members need to step up wherever possible to meet the dog’s physical and especially her emotional needs, in tragic situations like this.

4. Owner Is Depressed

That dog-owner bond goes beyond loss, and one study has shown that dogs can tell whether we are happy or sad by our facial expressions.

Dogs are also being used to detect low blood sugar in diabetics, as well as cancer. They certainly can tune into people and our subtle changes in body language and emotion, so they can be impacted by a family member’s depression. We can’t fool our dogs. They are very in tune with our emotions.

5. Behavior Correction

The way you train your dog may lead to depressive behavior. Dogs who are corrected for unwanted behavior may soon stop offering behaviors at all in order to avoid punishment. Using things like shock collars or other extreme forms of punishment may lead to a state of mind known as learned helplessness that can be associated with depression.

This occurs when people or animals feel helpless to avoid negative situations. In studies, dogs no longer tried to escape shocks if they had been conditioned to believe they couldn’t escape. Instead of punishing for “poor” or “negative” behavior, try rewarding for good behavior. Dogs trained with rewards are often more confident and attentive to their owners than those who are punished.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372

Is Sugar Bad for Dogs ?

 

As much we enjoy eating sugary treats like ice cream and candy, they shouldn’t be fed to dogs. Although it is a necessary component of their diets, certain sugars, like those found in sweets, can be harmful to dogs just like it is to people. Here are the reasons your dog shouldn’t have sugar.

1. Toxicity

Both chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol—found in many sugar-free candies—can be toxic to dogs. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can be poisonous to your pet. Dark, semi-sweet and Baker’s chocolate can be lethal if ingested.

Dogs can’t digest theobromine as efficiently as humans. Theobromine can be used medically as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Since dogs can’t process theobromine, excessive amounts of it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, a racing heart rate, muscle spasms and occasionally seizures.

2. Cavities

Another downside of consuming too much sugar? Dental caries or cavities. The problem with sugar is that bacteria in the mouth use it which produces acids. Acids increase the loss of minerals in the enamel or the outer coating of the teeth, leading to dental disease.

You can’t avoid sugar – pretty much everything you can put in your dog’s mouth contains some form of sugar to some degree. The best you can do is feed dog foods that are lower in carbohydrates and brush your dog’s teeth. It is also essential that your dog’s teeth be checked at least annually by your veterinarian and that you agree to professional cleanings as recommended by your vet.

3. Upset Stomach

If you want to avoid having to clean up vomit or diarrhea, it’s probably best to avoid giving your dog sugar. In the short term, a sugary treat can lead to an upset stomach.

All animals rely on the bacteria and other microorganisms in our gut to help us digest the food we eat. A higher dose of sugar than our pets are used to can upset the balance of those micro-organisms and lead to diarrhea – sometimes explosive, sometimes bloody, and sometimes even with vomiting.

4. Weight Gain

Refined sugar is largely empty calories. If you’re constantly giving your dog sugar, they can gain weight, which can stress joints and lead to other problems down the road.

Heart disease, joint problems, lethargy, and difficulty breathing from the additional weight on the chest wall are just a few of the other problems that can result. In general, even if your pet avoids these diseases for a while, quality of life is decreased (less energy, less interest in playing, etc.) when he is overweight.

5. Metabolic Changes

Sugar causes increased secretion of insulin, which the body needs to store and use sugar. Insulin has many effects on other hormones in the body, which can change a pet’s muscle tone, fat storage, immune system and energy levels.

These changes can lead to weaker, less active and obese pets who are more susceptible to other hormone related diseases, infections and obesity. In the long term, sugar can cause some significant changes to your pet’s body and metabolism. The most common challenges are obesity and diabetes.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

Pet Sitting,  In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in Your Home, Doggie Day Care.

Diana@WestsideDogNanny.com
310 919 9372