Puppies can and do get depressed, for reasons similar to reasons why people get depressed. It could be a drastic change in environment or the death of a family member. Depressed puppies are at risk of death or ill health since they will not eat or drink on their own. In their minds, life is not worth living. Puppy owners do well to heed the warning signs and do their best to get their puppy out of depression and back to normal.
According to The Dog Bowl, symptoms of puppy depression include extreme calm, indifference, howling and dislike of physical contact. Depressed puppies may stop eating if their depression is severe. They will not want to make eye contact. Their extreme calm and indifference prevents them from getting interested in the world around them. They will not play and they will not enjoy going for walks. Disinterest can be seen in eyes that look dull.
Depressed puppies can cause damage to their health and development if not cared for properly. Since they are growing at a fast rate, if they stop eating and exercising, they can cause damage to internal organs as well as neurological development. Depression symptoms are similar to symptoms of other medical conditions, so it is important that the puppy be checked by a veterinarian to rule out other health concerns.
Causes of puppy depression can range from moving to a new location to sibling rivalry. Some puppies get depressed when left alone all day. Vet Info states, "Your puppy may become anxious in your new home because it has no sense of where he or she belongs." Puppies may get depressed if they sense that someone does not like them. Boredom can also lead to depression.
Prevention is always better than treatment, especially when it comes to puppies. If a big change is coming, puppies should be slowly acclimated to the change. If the change happens unexpectedly, puppies should be kept busy. Just like people, if they are focused on something else, they cannot focus on the negative. Owners need to beware of their own feelings. Puppies are very keen to what others are feeling. If people around them feel depressed, they may mirror those same emotions.
Puppies that keep eating and drinking well on their own are able to come out of depression without medications. Severe cases of depression may require the puppy version of Prozac to help them overcome the worst part, according to The Dog Daily. Mild cases usually clear up within a few weeks. Severe cases can last as long as a few years. Doggie daycare may be part of the solution to provide more stimulation and interaction with other dogs.