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Natural Remedies to Treat Depression in Dogs

Posted: 07/08/2022 | BY: Erin Cain | Categories: Behavior , dog , health problems , pet care

Depression is a common problem among dogs and can be caused by many factors. Even though dogs cannot tell us that they are feeling depressed, there’s been plenty of research done on how to tell if your pup might have depression. Fortunately, aside from veterinary care and medication, pet parents can use many natural methods and remedies to address dog depression and anxiety. Let’s discuss the causes of dog depression and how to use natural methods and remedies to treat depression in dogs.

What causes depression in dogs?

Some of the most common reasons for depression in dogs are relocation or grief. A new family member in the household may also trigger depression in your dog. There’s a chance the dog will get less attention from you and your family, which could make him feel left out. Other potential causes of dog depression are:

  • a family member leaving the home
  • lack of purpose
  • boredom
  • death of an animal companion or human
  • physical illness
  • fears or phobias
  • significant changes in an owner’s schedule and daily routines
  • lack of or diminished time and attention from an owner
  • moving to a new home or changing a dog’s environment

The emotional intelligence of dogs is something that some pet parents take for granted. Even the most stoic dog can be affected by major life changes, resulting in mood shifts or behavioral problems associated with

Always check with your veterinarian to ensure that there is no underlying health issue or medical problem causing your dog’s depression and impacting his health. Some dogs will act depressed if they are unwell or in pain. Otherwise, there are natural remedies you can try if your pup seems down following a traumatic experience.

What are dog depression symptoms?

The symptoms of dog depression are varied, just as they can be with human depression. Some dogs will display signs of the following symptoms:

  • lack of interest in walking or playing
  • change in demeanor or behavioral changes
  • lethargy (low energy levels)
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits, especially oversleeping
  • constipation
  • weight loss
  • excessive paw licking
  • hiding or avoidance
  • being needy or clingy

If you notice your dog seems down, it’s vital to devise an action plan immediately. Depression causes the immune system to weaken and can no longer fight off threats such as viruses or bacteria. Long term, this impact on the immune system could cause physical problems in the future if left unchecked. Natural dog depression treatments can make a world of difference to a dog with grief and anxiety.

Natural remedies to treat depression in dogs

When your dog is feeling down, it can be challenging to know how best to help them. Here are some natural remedies that work well when trying to cheer up a depressed dog.

Increased physical activity

You can start to treat depression in dogs naturally by taking your pup outside more often. Make an effort with longer walks or letting him out in the yard for more extended periods. A depressed dog needs something to pique his interest again. The sun is a natural mood booster for both dogs and humans. It supports endocrine function, which releases hormones that have an uplifting effect on our canine companions.

The only way to get your dog back into an active lifestyle is by encouraging them. A walk, run, or sniff around the block are just some examples of things that a pup parent can do daily for this purpose. Spend time with your dog outdoors and try to involve him in a fun activity like playing Frisbee. Intrigue your dog with a new toy or a trip to an unfamiliar hiking spot to keep him interested in the world around him. Increased activity will promote endorphins within your pup, naturally making him a happy dog.

Also, motion activates the lymph system, a significant player in the body’s immune response. The lymph system can filter out and kill bacteria, keeping the body healthy. Combined with the increased oxygen intake, exercise will make your dog feel like a million dollars in no time.

Music

Have you ever noticed how your dog’s mood changes when he hears a song on TV or playing on your speakers? It’s true! Dogs are susceptible to sound, music included. A 2017 scientific study found that songs influence a dog’s emotional state. 

Music’s healing and uplifting sounds may help treat depression in dogs, yours included. Listen to relaxing playlists on YouTube or Spotify for this purpose. Make sure you keep the volume lower as dogs have exceptional hearing and don’t want to overwhelm your pup with sound. When you two are listening to music, help your dog feel relaxed by petting him slowly. The motion is like a healing massage for humans and will re-establish your connection with your furry friend.

Promote socialization

Dogs must spend time with other canines, like their friends and family. Regular trips to the dog park, time spent at doggie daycare, or play dates with neighborhood pups might help prevent pet depression. Interacting with other dogs is vital for your pet’s mental well-being. A depressed dog will likely lose interest and purpose, but spending time with other dogs might help him find himself again.

Suppose your dog suffers from depression because of the grief of losing another animal friend. In that case, you may consider adding a new furry family member to your home. A new pack member may cure your dog’s blues. However, the loss of a companion can be hard to cope with. Proceed carefully with adopting a new pet because if your current pet doesn’t accept the new dog, things will only get worse.

Try supplements and herbal remedies.

Pet parents can use many natural treatments to treat their dog’s depression without side effects. Here are some herbal remedies and supplements to try with your dog. Remember to discuss these supplements with your veterinarian before giving them to your dog.

Omega-3s and omega-6

Omega-3s and omega-6s support everything from brain function to the immune system. Research suggests their anti-inflammatory properties can enhance mood in dogs. Unfortunately, dogs cannot produce these essential fatty acids independently but must obtain them through all-natural dog food and fish oil supplements.

Probiotics

Probiotics are another type of supplement that is scientifically linked with mood enhancement and treat depression in dogs. In research studies, Bifidobacterium longum positively improved mood and decreased stress levels in dogs. This probiotic also helps relieve gastrointestinal upset, making dogs feel physically and mentally better.

St. John’s wort and Sandalwood herbs

St. John’s wort herb, used for centuries by people, works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain, which promotes positive feelings in a dog. This herb also increases cognitive functions and encourages healthy sleeping habits.

The scent of sandalwood, one of many essential oils, is a calming, soothing influence on your dog’s mental state. While it is safe for pets, it must be genuine and administered with direction from a veterinarian. True sandalwood oil should have a minimum alcohol-free level of 90%. It’s derived from the santalum album tree, and most legitimate manufacturers will list this information on their labels. The best way to expose your depressed dog to this herb is through a diffuser.

Ignatia Amara (Homeopathy)

Like other homeopathic remedies, Ignatia Amara provides calming and soothing effects for dogs suffering from depression related to deep grief or trauma. This remedy is particularly effective for grieving dogs and picking up on their pet parent’s grief.

Focus on more quality time with your dog

If you’re feeling down, your dog might be too. But there’s an easy way to make your pup happy again: just spend some extra time with him! As a dog parent, you know that your pet gets most of his love from your interactions. It’s something dogs can feel even when we are feeding them or taking them out for walks.

Just spending time with your dog can help break his negative mood. Whether walking around the block, playing fetch in the yard, or sitting next to your pup while watching TV, sometimes the best antidepressant for your dog’s depression is more time bonding with you.

Reward positive behavior

Rewarding your dog with treats for depressive behavior can backfire if he thinks that’s what it takes to earn tasty snacks. Instead, wait until you see active interest from your dog before giving him any food rewards. Focus on teaching him new tricks and encouraging environmental enrichment. Reinforce good behavior with healthy dog treats, which will, in turn, help your dog associate mental stimulation and physical exercise with positive effects. Giving your pup positive attention is a natural way to treat depression in dogs.

Get pet insurance for a healthy and happy dog!

Dog depression is a severe condition that can impact any dog, anywhere, at any time. Purchase a pet insurance policy for your dog before your dog shows signs of canine depression. The cost of treatment and medication can add up fast. However, with a pet insurance plan, you are reimbursed up to 90% of your vet bills.

Don’t wait for something to happen to your dog! Let Pet Insurance Review find the best offers for your dog’s needs from top providers. Get a free quote for your dog today.

References:

  1. Rosen, N. (2020). How Depression Affects Your Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.dispatchhealth.com/blog/how-depression-affects-your-immune-system/
  2. Stromberg, J. (2016). Why scientists believe dogs are smarter than we give them credit for. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/2015/4/7/8360143/dogs-intelligence-science
  3. Gallant. (2019). 6 Ways Your Dog is Telling You He’s Not Getting Enough Exercise. Retrieved from https://gallant.com/blog/6-ways-dog-telling-hes-not-getting-enough-exercise/
  4. Bowman, A., et al. (2017). The effect of different genres of music on the stress levels of kennelled dogs. Retrieved from http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/135846/
  5. Soukiasian, K. (2018). Prevent canine depression: Make sure your dog has a chance to interact with other pups. Retrieved from https://dogsbestlife.com/home-page/prevent-canine-depression/
  6. The Grateful Pet. (2022). Omega-3 & Omega-6 for Dogs: What is the Difference? Retrieved from https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/
  7. Ledger, R. (2016). Pet Therapy: Would your anxious dog benefit from probiotics? Retrieved from  https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/
  8. Wardle, N. (2018). What Can St. John’s Wort Do For My Pet? Retrieved from https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/
  9. Scents and Aroma. (2021). Is Sandalwood Essential Oil Safe For Dogs?  Retrieved from https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/
  10. Blanco, D. (2016). Homeopathy for Dog and Cat Emergencies: Sadness, Loss & Grief. Retrieved from https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/
  11. Pets at Peace. (2022). Ways to Help Your Grieving Pet. Retrieved from https://thegratefulpet.sg/omega-3-omega-6-for-dogs-what-is-the-difference/

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