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What is Anxiety and Depression?

  • Aggression
  • Excessive barking
  • Destructive behavior (such as chewing)
  • Panting
  • Shaking
  • Hiding
  • Seeking comfort (often through affection)
  • Excessive licking or chewing
  • Excessive energy
  • Attempts to escape
  • Sudden defecation
  • Panic attacks, which can include any or all of the above symptoms
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Low energy
  • Withdrawing or hiding
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety and depression affect dogs in much the same way they affect humans. Anxiety is often a response to triggers or stimuli, such as an owner leaving the house or loud noises. Depression is often brought on by a major life change, such as losing a companion or moving to a new home. Anxiety and depression may also be symptoms of an underlying medical issue.
  • Separation anxiety is a common type of anxiety in dogs because of their social nature.
  • Anxiety and depression can strike any dog, but some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to anxiety. Intelligent, high energy breeds -- such as Standard Poodles, Dalmatians, and Bernese Mountain Dogs -- are the most likely to be affected.
  • Every dog exhibits anxiety and depression differently. For example, while some dogs will develop aggression, others will become timid. Always keep an eye on your dog and contact your veterinarian if you notice any behavioral changes.
  • If your dog is experiencing anxiety or depression, don’t coddle or overly console them. This type of attention may lead your dog to believe that their anxious or depressed behavior is justified/will earn them praise, and the behavior may become worse. Instead, you should reward your dog when they are calm and happy.
  • Additionally, keep in mind that dogs pick up on and often mimic our behaviors. So if you are feeling anxious, your dog may feel anxious too.
  • Puppies deprived of socialization may grow up to be anxious or depressed. The same is true if a pup removed from their mother’s care too early (before 8 weeks of age).
  • While anxiety and depression are behavioral issues, they could also be symptoms of an underlying medical problem. For example, illnesses such as hypothyroidism or encephalitis may cause a dog to become anxious. And dogs with illnesses such as cancer or canine distemper may appear depressed.
  • In some cases, treating anxiety or depression is simply a matter of reducing triggers or circumstances that bring on the behavior. For example, many anxious dogs benefit from increased exercise, and dogs with depression may cheer up when given more opportunities for socialization.
  • For anxiety, behavior modification is another option. Behavior modification involves desensitizing a dog to anxiety triggers. This is usually accomplished with the help of a trainer or animal behaviorist.
  • Medication may be recommended for dogs with severe anxiety or depression. There are both prescription and homeopathic options.
  • Dogs who receive successful treatment for anxiety will begin to appear calmer and more confident. This will make day-to-day tasks such as walking your dog easier, and you may find that your dog doesn’t bat an eye when you’re getting ready to leave the house.
  • Dogs who receive successful treatment for depression will have a boost in energy and appear happier in general; more tail-wagging, a better appetite, and an increased interest in play.
  • Some medications used to treat anxiety and depression can have side effects, such as drowsiness, loss of appetite, and constipation. Contact your veterinarian with any concerns, and if your dog ever exhibits an allergic reaction to a medication, go to the emergency vet clinic immediately.

a PetPlus Member's story

PetPlus is great because it makes the medication more affordable. Sachi uses Amitriptyline, Gabapentin and Selegiline to treat anxiety. image description SAVED $615 last year Liz + Sachi Harpers Ferry, WV Read More

How PetPlus Can Help You

 
Diet save $322

Top Prescription Foods for Anxiety and Depression

Nutritional management of everyday difficult situations and behavioral changes.

 
Medication save $734

Top Prescription Medications for Anxiety and Depression

Treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviors and panic disorders.

 
Supplements save $0

Top Vitamins and Supplements for Anxiety and Depression

Nutrition based options to reduce stress in dogs.

 
Treatment save $50

Professional Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Save 25% at over 4,000 veterinarians nationwide through Pet Assure. Simply show your PetPlus card at any participating vet to receive savings on office visits & exams, vaccines & shots, elective procedures (e.g., dental care), surgery (e.g., spaying & neutering, emergency surgery) and hospitalization (in Network).

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Professional Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Save 25% at over 4,000 veterinarians nationwide through Pet Assure. Simply show your PetPlus card at any participating vet to receive savings on office visits & exams, vaccines & shots, elective procedures (e.g., dental care), surgery (e.g., spaying & neutering, emergency surgery) and hospitalization (in Network).

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What To Expect

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    Prescription Medication

    There are a number of medications intended for the treatment of anxiety and depression in dogs, and the most common are Amitriptyline, Doxepin, and Fluoxetine. Amitriptyline is an antidepressant that can lessen anxiety in pets; it is a generic and less expensive alternative to Elavil. Doxepin works to treat behavioral issues such as anxiety, depression, and OCD, and it also works as an antihistamine to treat allergies. Fluoxetine is commonly used to treat compulsive disorders, panic disorder, and depression; it is a generic alternative to Prozac.

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    Food

    Dogs who are experiencing anxiety or depression may change their eating habits. In many cases, this means a loss of appetite.

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    Nonprescription Options

    There are many canine-specific natural supplements for your dog’s arthritis, like glucosamine and Omega-3 fatty acids. These can reduce swelling or help repair joint damage. Dasuquin and Cosequin are two popular supplements that combine these ingredients with other nutrients like MSM and chondroitin.

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    Professional Treatment

    Even if it may seem like a problem you can handle yourself, you should always consult your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety or depression. Not only because they can help you determine the best course of treatment for your dog, but also because it is important for your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.

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Be patient and enjoy the time you have with your pet.
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