BaxterBoo Blog
August 21, 2017

Mental Health Problems Dogs Can Suffer From

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Most pet owners understand the importance of keeping an eye out for health problems that develop in dogs. Canines are capable of developing many of the same health problems that afflict humans. From rabies to a hookworm infection, it is vital to watch out for any symptoms.


However, it is also important to understand that dogs are capable of developing mental health problems in addition to physical health ones. Occasionally, a mental health problem will be correlated to a physical issue while other times, the two are completely separate. If you notice your dog acting strangely, then you should absolutely take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Treatment is available, but you need to know what to watch out for.




Dogs can get depressed similarly to humans. For example, dogs can feel depressed after moving to a new home. If a family member passes away or moves out of the house, then the canine may also experience symptoms of depression. Some common signs of this affliction include:


  • Extreme shedding
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Withdrawing from any kind of social interaction
  • Reducing its amount of physical activity
  • Drastically experiencing weight loss


It is possible for dogs to have temporary or permanent depression. If you recently moved and your pooch is acting out, then you may just need to give it some time to adjust to its new surroundings. In the event the depression seems more severe, then you may want to consider other options. Medication is available, but many pet owners are hesitant about taking this route. You should try playing with your pup more often with its favorite toy. If you are able to adopt another dog, then you may want to think about getting your current pooch a friend. Companionship can do a lot of good, and giving your dog its own support animal can be extremely beneficial.




Many times, depression and anxiety go hand in hand. However, it is completely possible for a canine to develop only one or the other. A few of the most common symptoms that develop with anxiety include:


  • Displaying severe destructive behavior
  • Vomiting or having diarrhea
  • Undergoing self-injuring behavior
  • Attempting to escape from the house or backyard
  • Hiding or withdrawing more often
  • Trembling


Some dogs have mild cases of anxiety, which should not be too much cause for concern. However, other dogs will experience anxiety in an extreme way. One of the most common ways anxiety manifests itself is in separation anxiety. You should be mindful if your dog displays extreme behaviors any time you leave the house. You can typically tell if a canine has separation anxiety disorder if it chews or urinates near exit points in the house. If you find chew marks on a door frame, then you need to address the problem immediately.




Dogs can become extremely fearful of certain things. As an example, dogs are often frightful of fireworks because they are loud and unpredictable. During the Fourth of July, you may want to consider giving your canine a sedative to make it calmer during any firework celebrations in your area.


Dogs can also be afraid of the veterinarian. It is very common, especially if it is a pooch’s first visit. The best way to handle this phobia is to simply get your canine acclimated to the environment. After a few visits, most dogs become much more comfortable with a vet’s office.


It is possible for dogs to be fearful of men in general. In a majority of cases, this phobia comes from being abused by a male earlier in life. It is possible to desensitize a dog to men through slow desensitization.


Many canines out there are afraid of walking down and up stairs. This usually comes from not understanding what stairs are. Many times, the canine simply needs to get used to the structure. You can try making a game out of this practice by playing with your dog that requires traveling up and down stairs. You should always give your pup a treat as a reward after doing a good job of getting over its fear.


Compulsive Disorders


The difference between obsessive compulsive disorders and merely compulsive ones is that OCD involves obsessive thoughts. Since humans are never sure what dogs are thinking, they technically cannot be diagnosed with OCD, but they can display compulsive behaviors that put them in danger.


Compulsive disorders can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Some pooches chase their tails for hours on end while others will run along a fence for seemingly no reason. If your dog chases its tail for a few minutes and then loses interest, then there is no reason to become concerned. You should only worry if you dog displays compulsive behaviors constantly.


It is important to see a vet immediately because dogs with compulsive disorders can end up hurting themselves over time. For example, a dog that always chases its tail may become exhausted, or when it does catch its tail, it refuses to let go, damaging the body part.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Dogs can experience PTSD the same way humans can. It develops similarly to humans in that a dog may display the symptoms of PTSD after undergoing a traumatic event. A past with abuse can cause dogs to be fearful of most people or constantly bark at everything. Being involved in a car accident or being attacked by another animal can also trigger symptoms of PTSD.


It is possible to encourage a dog to get over its PTSD symptoms by encouraging playful behavior. You should monitor your dog’s behavior with other dogs to ensure it is not getting too aggressive. Additionally, you may want to take your canine to the vet. There is specialized dog medication to help treat symptoms of PTSD. Never give your dog any medication that was intended for humans.


The best general advice is to take your doggie to the vet if you notice any extreme changes in behavior. The explanation could be simple, or you may learn your dog has a mental disorder. Either way, make sure you give your furry companion plenty of love and attention.



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This entry was posted by Shauna.

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