How can you know if your dog is truly happy with their life?

Animals get depressed just like people. The signs can also be similar.

A depressed or distressed dog will present at least some of the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Over sleeping
  • Anorexia or over eating
  • Self mutilation (i.e. excessive chewing or licking)
  • Obsessive compulsive behavior (i.e. spinning, barking)
  • Anxiety (i.e. panting, pacing, whining, shaking)
  • Aggression or possessiveness
  • Fear (rational or irrational)
  • Destructive behavior (i.e. wrecking furniture)
  • Purposeful marking or incontinence
  • Sudden bad behavior (i.e. not listening, stealing food, leaving the property)
  • Strange body language (i.e. ducked head, tucked tail, hunched back, lack of eye contact and slinking walk)
  • More frequent illnesses

If you are concerned your dog may be unhappy, pay close attention to how your dog behaves. Any new or unhealthy habits should be noted and mentioned to the vet.

Depression and sudden aggression in dogs can be linked to certain health problems like seizure disorders and pain. Whether your dog’s behavior is due to a physical illness or a mental illness, most likely it can be cured or managed with proper medication and lifestyle changes. Dogs have been successfully treated with the same psychiatric drugs that are given to people with mental health issues.

I think we can always treat our pets better. They can’t tell us how they feel, so it’s our responsibility to recognize whether our dogs are acting out of the ordinary. Enrichment and change of scenery can do wonders for any pet’s mental and physical health.

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