Overall growth in animals is very similar to that of humans. Along with being physically fit and healthy, it is very important that we maintain our mental health. The same goes for our furry babies. Mental health is a prime factor in their overall health and development. Their emotional needs need to be catered to in the same way we cater to the emotional needs of our loved ones. Let’s try and get a better understanding of this concept and how we can help our little fluff balls.
That wagging tail and happy little face might lead you to believe that dogs can never be unhappy. Contrary to popular belief, dogs also suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Some of the major mental issues affecting dogs are-
Anxiety- One of the leading causes of anxiety in dogs is due to separation. Dogs tend to feel extremely anxious when left alone in a house for long periods of time. Due to this anxiety, dogs might lash out on objects around the house. Hence, you come back to a ripped up cushion or half-eaten sofa leg.
Depression- Depression can be very difficult for dogs to cope with. Though this is treatable, the amount of time taken for any dog to get through this phase varies. Depression can be triggered due to various reasons, such as- loss of a companion, change of place, etc. Get to know more about depression and how you can help in the next section of our blog.
Obsessive Compulsive behavior- No, we cannot term this as OCD but dogs do tend to show compulsive behaviors. Continuously chasing their tail for very long amounts of time, barking continuously, etc can come under this. Dogs show such behavior when they are under stress or are frustrated.
PTSD- Dogs can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as well. Canine PTSD can take place if the dog goes through a traumatic event or has been treated cruelly. It can cause a dog to act out if they are presented with a similar situation
Dogs try to convey their needs and wants through their body language. Sometimes we are unable to read exactly what they need as their body language differs from ours. Here are some ways in which your dog is trying to communicate with you-
- Let’s play!- A dog with the front end lowered with a wagging tail and ears up want you to play with them. A playful dog will also have dilated pupils and an open mouth with an exposed tongue.
- I’m stressed- A dog with a drooping body and a lowered tail is usually stressed or worried. Their ears will be pulled back, they might even pant a little bit.
- Stay away– If your dog has their tail and fur standing with a crinkled nose, it is a cue for you to step away. This may even be accompanied by growling.
- I’m scared– A dog with a lowered back and a tail that is facing downwards or in between their feet is fearful or scared of something. This is usually accompanied by whimpering and sweaty paws.
- Alert- A dog with their ears forward and a horizontal tail is very alert of their surroundings. The dog is having a look around the environment and taking in all the details.
- Just chilling- A relaxed dog usually has a relaxed stance with a high head and an open mouth. Ears are also relaxed and overall the dog is in an approachable mood.
Depression in dogs
How to cater to their emotional needs
Dogs are emotional beings and need our time and love. As their guardian, it is important for us to understand what this means. Their emotional needs can be as vast and complicated as those of a human being. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Spend more quality time with them
Take out some time from your daily routine and spend some quality time with your little one. Don’t just take them out for a walk, be with them in the present. Play a game of fetch or just play around on the carpet. Make sure they know how much you love them.
- Take them out for some socialization
This point depends on your dog. If your dog likes spending time with other dogs or people then take them out to a park or for a playdate. Socializing with their own species and meeting new people can be a fun experience for them.
- Keep them active and entertained
The stored energy inside them needs to be utilized. Keep them active and entertained. Try out new games and activities, this will give them various outlets to spend their energy on. If you are too tired and don’t want to participate in a movement heavy activity, you could give them an edible long-lasting dental chew. This will keep them entertained as well as act as a supplement to their diet.
- Feed healthy
Emotional well being is greatly determined by their physical health. If they aren’t feeling well physically, then they will not feel good emotionally. Feed them healthy, fresh food. Throw in a few treats once in a while as well.