I was an only child growing up in a home with a clinically depressed parent (probably two depressed parents). I spent a lot of time alone - but when I was going through a seriously tough time in my life and didn't really know what to "call it", I turned to my pet dog.
While I was pretty sure that she had no idea what I was saying when I was balling my eyes about the latest problem at home or school -- I could tell that she could sense that I was feeling bad. She used to lay on me. Lick me. And stay very close to me when I was feeling this way. Normally she would stay in "her spot" in the dining room under the dining room table. Near my mother. When she stayed with me, I knew it was to simply comfort me when I was feeling really down.
So while studies have proven this theory about dogs and how they react to depression in humans -- there is also evidence that suggests that dogs can also have feelings of depression, and exhibit similar symptoms.
What Depression Looks Like In Your Dog
1. Your dog mopes around
2. Your dog is lethargic
3. Your dog stops eating
4. Your dog drinks very little water
5. Your dog stops wanting to play
6. Your dog loses noticeable amounts of weight
Circumstances That Result In Depression
1. If you own several pets, and one dies. A dog will often grieve the loss of that pet. Just like you -- he has lost a friend.
2. If an owner dies -- a dog will often go through a grieving process. As the owner of a dog - your are his provider, his alpha, his leader. If you die or disappear, a dog can become lost and therefore sad and confused.
3. If a dog has limited or no human contact -- he can often exhibit symptoms of depression. While some breeds may show aggression under this type of stress, many others will show signs of depression.
4. If a dog is sick or neglected for a long period of time, he may become depressed. Some dogs seem to have lost their "spirit" when they have been abused, neglected, or have been ill for a long time.
5. Some dogs become depressed by a change of living area and/or ownership. When I first adopted one of my pet dogs from a home breeder, it took him about two weeks to reveal his true lively personality. He missed his old owners and the dogs that he lived with there.
Now while I am by no means a dog training expert or dog behaviorist -- there is no denying the fact that some dogs do experience depression at some point in their lives and if you do not see improvement in these symptoms in about 7 days (or sooner) -- then you should consult your veterinarian.
Remember that in order to stay on track with your depression treatment plan, you will need to keep your pets healthy and happy too.
Lisa Angelettie MSW, "GirlShrink" is a Psychotherapist, Author, and Certified Life Coach. Her site GirlShrink.com is the #1 "Advice & Counseling" site on the web. For more information on how to beat your depression naturally - without drugs - learn more at: NaturallyDepressionFree.com