Can dogs get depressed?

newhomeseekerJuly 23, 2009

My parents' dog passed away from cancer (allegedly, they did not know for sure) in March. That dog's "sister" (not from the same litter but adopted as puppies at the same time) has some health problems as well. When she was a puppy she was hit by a car (they didn't stop) and it broke her pelvis. She suffered no ill effects from that when she was younger but now has arthritis and the meds that are prescribed damage her liver and heart. Last week she stopped eating for two days and did not have a bowel movement for three days. She just laid around, did not want to go outside. Last thursday night she laid in the kitchen all night (she normally sleeps on their bed) and she wouldn't get up. She wasn't crying or anything just laid there and wasn't interested in anything. At this point they were giving her water with a syringe. They planned to take her to the vet the next day but honestly didn't expect her to last the night.

Thursday night, my mom called me and asked if I could come up to see them and the dog (she used to be mine as I picked her out as a puppy from a rescue) My mom said she couldn't get her to eat anything.

I took off work and went up the very next morning (my parents were at work) My mom said she'd improved some because she ate a little in the morning. My parents live 2 hours away so I don't visit all the time. When I arrived their dog (Jenny) heard my voice and came to greet me. I brought two cans of Fancy Feast cat food with me and she wolfed both of those down. I got her to go outside and she laid on the porch and really didn't want to follow me around. She gave me kisses and her paw (the sign she wants attention) She seemed tired but not on death's door like my parents had suggested. They live on a farm and have about half an acre of a fenced yard for the dogs. They have 2 younger (less than 2 years old) dogs as well.

Jenny loves going for walks so I got the leash to see if she would be interested. She perked right up and I took her for a walk (minus the two younger dogs) I walked her all over the farm (or rather she walked me!) She had to check out every groundhog hole, every interesting smell. She was trotting around with her tail up (it curls like a husky) and her ears perked and she was just like her old self. My dad came home while we were on our walk and when he saw his little girl (Jenny) just trotting around all energetic and happy he was shocked. He almost started crying because he was so happy she was doing better! We went for three more walks while I was there! And my mom took her for a walk that night after I left. I told them maybe she was depressed (missing her brother) and needed a change of scenery and extra attention. She slept on the bed that night like she normally does.

THey did take her to vet and blood work was normal. The vet gave her some antibiotics "just in case" but said nothing he could find other than old age. That maybe her teeth hurt and thats why she stopped eating.

That was a week ago and ever since then their dog has acted like her old self. They try to take her for walks every day and she even started playing with the two younger dogs again.

Anyone have any ideas as to what could have been wrong?? Should they take her to some kind of specialist?

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Absolutely they can get depressed, sad, happy, etc.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 4:05PM
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Unless she has some kind of waxing and waning disease, whatever was wrong is most likely gone. I wouldn't worry about it unless it happened again.

I agree with gina w- dogs (and anything with a brain) can feel sad, happy, depressed, etc. It's a symptom of being a sentient being IMHO.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 4:20PM
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I agree with above posters. Dogs can definitely get depressed. AS long as everything has been good, I wouldn't worry about it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 4:24PM
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Cats can get depressed, too. Our male stopped eating, and was way more neurotic than usual after we put our female to sleep. It's taken him about a week to fully bounce back.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Our 15 y.o. cat's littermate/brother passed away in January. She is still not right. She didn't eat well for a month or two afterwards and has had some pretty intense yowling sessions to this day. She's been to the vet twice and they haven't been able to find anything wrong with her (she is hyperthyroid, but it hasn't changed in over a year, so meds were not off). Her sleep patterns also switched around completely after he passed away. I am convinced that she has taken his loss pretty hard and is still grieving even now. Some people around me think I'm nuts- most tell me that she doesn't even remember him at this point. They were a close unit and looked out for each other, his loss changed the entire dynamic of her world.

After this last 6 months, I am certain animals can grieve long and hard, and maybe never be quite the same again. I'm so glad that your dog bounced back upon seeing you. Hope you get a chance to go spend more time with her soon- it sounds like you are good medicine!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 6:04PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think we as people have a hard time with emotions in dogs like depression, worry, jealousy, etc because it implies dogs are people who speak a different language and the horrific abuse we see daily - dogs on a chain their whole life- is not something we can process easily, mainly because there is nothing to be done. I have to pass at least 6 different houses daily with chained up and caged dogs and it makes me grieve. I try not to have torture fantasies.

My two dogs experience all the emotions and I see it all the time: jealousy, joy, anticipation, anxiety, fear, worry, boredom, desire, excitement, the list goes on. I have seen remorse in one of my dogs and I don't think I am humanizing them one bit. I still treat them as dogs.

Sorry to get off topic- I'm glad she is ok!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 6:45PM
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I agree with everyone and wasn't going to add anymore but...

since your visit cheered up the dog so much maybe make a point to visit more often for a while. Leave an article of clothing you wear often with your scent for the dog to comfort him.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2009 at 8:19AM
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