We might not realize it, but our support dogs can experience depression and anxiety, much like humans. A significant change in your dog’s life, such as a child moving away to college, the death of another dog in your household, a move to a new home, etc., can all create stress for dogs. Triggers such as the owner leaving the house for some errands or loud noises such as fireworks or nearby construction can create anxiety.
Dogs show their depression and anxiety in a myriad of ways. From hiding and shaking to low energy and lethargy or weight-loss to attempts to get away, it is essential to know if your dog struggles with their mental health. Failure to treat dogs for these health concerns can lead to self-harm. Dogs may engage in tail biting, flank sucking, or a licking disorder where they obsessively lick an area, ultimately leading to an ulceration or skin infection.
In many cases, treating depression or anxiety in your dog can be as simple as removing the trigger. If you live in a new neighborhood where there is a lot of construction, consider moving your pet’s kennel to another section of the home. Or, cuddle your dog when the loud noises begin to show them that they are safe. On Independence Day or when fireworks might be prevalent, have your dog wear a thunder jacket (also great for stormy days) to bring them some comfort.
When to Seek Medical Treatment for Your Depressed or Anxious Dog
If attempts at comforting your dog aren’t working, you may need to seek medical attention. Your vet will take the time to understand what is causing your dog’s discontent and will work with you on ways to bring peace and joy back into your furry friend’s daily life. In some extreme cases, your vet will consult with a veterinary compounding pharmacy when available drug options aren’t right for your pet’s needs.
Treats to Help with Anxiety and Depression in Dogs
Compounded medications are a customized form of medicinal treatment for dogs that don’t like to take medications or when a standard approach just isn’t working. In some cases, your vet will have the ability to compound a drug, but in most cases, your vet will work with a compounding pharmacist on your pet’s behalf to ensure the best treatment. Vets develop compounded medicinal therapies on a case-by-case basis for the intended patient.
Giving your dog a calming chew may work sufficiently to help your dog with their anxiety. You may need to experiment with different products based on their ingredients to see what will work best for your dog. Common calming ingredients include L-theanine and L-tryptophan, which are amino acids. These amino acids help reduce the stress response in your dog, ultimately contributing to relaxation.
Many dog owners also like products that contain valerian and chamomile, as they are natural sedative herbs with calming qualities. If a chew doesn’t work for your dog, you may find a spray or plug-in diffuser that contains synthetic versions of calming canine pheromones.
If your dog is depressed and not eating, then you might be interested in a nutritious chew that will engage your dog and help them to gain weight. Weight gain chews are helpful for dogs with a variety of conditions, such as depression. However, pregnant or nursing dogs, hunting dogs that need the energy to stay active, or those with poor dental hygiene can also benefit from weight gain chews. These items contain nutrients such as dried whey, dicalcium phosphate, milk protein phosphates, and more that can help your dog regain energy and weight for a healthier and longer lifespan.