A growing number of dogs are being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, obsessive-compulsive behaviour and other disorders — and prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.
A recent study carried out by vets in Switzerland says that a growing number of dogs are suffering from mental health issues and mood disorders — which could be due to their owners’ hectic modern lifestyles.
One British dog owner, 36-year-old Louise Whittaker from Kent, found this to be the case five years ago, when her then six-year-old collie Forrest became so anxious when Louise started a part-time job that she was unable to leave him home alone.
“When I first got Forrest as a six-month-old pup, he didn’t seem to mind when I was out at work,” Louise told the Daily Mail. “But he became increasingly fraught, guarding the door every time I put my lipstick on to leave the house. I’d return from work to find him distressed and with his paws bleeding from hours spent clawing at the plaster around the front door. Out walking, he’d become aggressive at the sound of drills or lawnmowers and was unable to cope around other dogs or people — a canine training class I thought might help was a disaster. Then he made an attempt to attack me in the garden last September, and I knew drastic action was needed.”
The vet prescribed diazepam for Forrest and he’s not the only dog to need medication to get his mental health back on track.
Former chief RSPCA vet Dr. Mark Evans said dog owners shouldn’t “take it for granted that dogs come packaged ready to deal with the crazy 21st-century lifestyles that we lead as humans.”
“In some dogs, the anxiety manifests itself as aggression or destructive behaviour, while others quietly contain their feelings or become clingy, and the owner may not even realise something is wrong,” he revealed.
The PDSA advises dog owners to look out for the following signs of depression in their canine friend:
- A change in eating and drinking habits
- Weight loss
- Change in personality — dogs may withdraw from their daily routine such as going for walks or playing, preferring instead to sleep
- Destructive dehaviour and soiling in the home
- Continual barking