Nutty paw-fessors: Doggy mental disorders
Published on Friday, 20 November 2015
Typically, depression in dogs results from a dramatic change in lifestyle or a traumatic event. The most common cause is the death of a canine or human companion. That said, it is not unheard of for dogs to get depressed over other changes, like having a new member—furry or otherwise—in the household.
Depressed dogs are withdrawn and listless, and may display changes in eating and sleeping patterns. “The symptoms may vary depending on the severity of depression, and in extreme cases, can even manifest through conditions like vomiting,” says Dr Michelle Chin, veterinarian with The Animal Ark Veterinary Group.
Thankfully, depression in dogs is usually a short-term problem—it is rare for dogs to remain depressed for long periods. With more attention and care from their paw-rents, most affected pooches revert to their cheerful, bubbly selves in a matter of months. Dr Chin advises, “Until your dog is ready to overcome the problem, support him with the attention he needs, and engage him in activities he enjoys.” For serious cases, antidepressants may be prescribed, but may present possible side effects like confusion, sleeplessness, and lethargy.
More accurately named Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), this disease is related to the ageing and deteriorating condition of the dog’s brain. It is common in dogs above seven years of age, and according to Dr Loon, develops progressively, but often goes unnoticed in its earlier stages.
Memory loss, forgetting learnt behaviour, and slow understanding of commands.
Like dementia in humans, there is no known cause of CCD, and it is usually irreversible. Your best bet is prevention, rather than cure. Dr Loon shares, “Owners can reduce the incidence of CCD by providing enrichment. Teach new tricks and commands, go for regular exercises and walks, and play with your dog daily.” Ideally, this should be done as your dog ages, and not only when symptoms arise. Medication can help to mask symptoms, and will usually improve the patient’s quality of life. Acupuncture is sometimes prescribed by vets that practice traditional Chinese medicine.
For the full list of our top five dog mental disorders, flip to Body and Soul (pg 68) of our Oct-Nov 2015 issue!