Our pet pooches are for any proud dog owner, a member of our family! This is why it’s essential that we look out for our dogs’ health, both physical and mental.
It may be hard to believe, but just like their owners, dogs too can suffer from mental illnesses. You might notice a sudden change in their behaviours, maybe your dog is suddenly quieter, or perhaps they’ve started chewing up furniture when they have never done so in the past. These are all symptoms of a change in your dogs’ mental health, and it is important that you are aware of them and take action if you feel the need.
Popular pet brand Lords & Labradors took a deeper look at dogs’ health and found that dog owners have become more aware of and concerned about their dog’s mental health. Lords & Labradors found that the most searched for mental health issue in dogs was separation anxiety, which is where your pets, who have developed a dependant bond with it’s owner or a particular family member becomes distressed when separated from them. This can commonly occur when an owner may go on holiday, and perhaps has seen an increase with ‘Covid dogs’ when their owners have returned to working in offices.
According to the RSPCA, the three biggest signs that your dog has separation anxiety are:
Destructive behaviour – often targeted at the door you left the house from, as well as chewing and destroying furniture.
Noise – such as howling and barking.
Toileting Troubles – Accidents occurring in the house in an otherwise toilet trained dog.
Additional, but less common symptoms are listed as the following: Self-mutilation (such as chewing paws to bleed, and pulling fur out), Trembling, whining or pacing (similar to how a human will pace when suffering anxiety), Excessive salivation, Vomiting and Repetitive behaviour.
A dog suffering separation anxiety may show some of the above, but not all and if you have concerns you should speak to your personal vet for advice.
Another type of mental health concerns in dogs is Obsessive-compulsive disorder or commonly known by it’s abbreviation O.C.D.
Again just like their owners, dogs can also suffer from this condition. O.C.D can often be mistaken for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression as it displays as the following symptoms:
- Chasing after unseen objects
- Self-mutilation (this commonly results in loss of hair or skin injuries/irritations)
- Licking a part particular of the body repeatedly
- Repeatedly chasing their tail
- Increase in frequency of a repeated behaviour
It is the similar symptoms to separation anxiety which is why it can be mistaken for depression or anxiety which is why it is essential you’re should seek your vets advice and possible prescription. Your vet may conduct numerous tests in order to determine a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is determined the vet will suggest possible solutions and treatments.
One of the most recognised mental illnesses in humans can also be found in your dog too! Depression in your dog can present itself in a number of ways similar to anxiety and O.C.D. However there are some additional symptoms your dog is more likely to display as well.
- Reluctance to go on walks
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite (If your dog goes off it’s favourite foods and treats this is a big sign you should seek your vet’s advice)
- Becoming more withdrawal and isolating itself.
- Less likely to play with it’s owner or other dogs.
Causes of depression in your dog may be a result of a loss in the family; both human or pet related. You may have moved home and your dog is uncomfortable in the new home. You may have found your routine change has impacted on your dog. If you believe that your dog is suffering from depression, like with every concern you should speak to your vet and try and work out what may be causing this change in behaviour.
Just like your own mental health, your dog’s mental health is important too! Always keep an eye out and trust your gut if you think that there is something wrong with your dog’s mental health! You may even find there to be a physical ailment that is causing the mental illness in your dog!