How to Treat a Dog's Depression

By Jon Dayton

A beloved pet is a part of the family. That's why it's so difficult to see a pet become depressed and listless. Moving, adding a new pet or a new baby or experiencing the death of another pet can all cause depression in a pet. If your dog seems to be withdrawing into a depressed state, don't despair. Simple treatment options normally can help dogs bounce back from depression, and medication is available if other treatments do not work. Dogs will usually bounce back to their former demeanor when their bout of depression ends.

Identify the symptoms of dog depression. Leaders of The American Society of Animal Behavior have said that depression in dogs has similar symptoms to depression in humans. Common signs would include dogs becoming withdrawn, experiencing changes in eating and sleeping habits and not participating in things they used to enjoy.

Spend more time with your dog to try and get him out of a depressed mode. Spend more time playing games with your dog and doing things he enjoys, like walking, exercising or even riding around in cars. Also, spend more time just petting or cuddling with your dog.

Reward your dog for showing positive behaviors. When your dog shows signs of happiness, reward him with a treat and pet him. Do not use treats as a way to make your dog happier. When you give a depressed dog treats, he will assume he is being rewarded for his sad behavior. This will only encourage your dog to stay depressed.

Visit a veterinarian for depression medications if rewarding positive behaviors and spending more time with your dog is not working. Medications for depressed dogs are the same as for depressed humans, which include Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. It can take two months for depression medication to work on dogs, but dogs should be much improved after 6 to 12 months.