Dogs can suffer from depression, but would you know if your pooch was feeling down? Like people, dogs often lose their appetites when they are feeling low and you would probably notice that. But it has emerged that itching and scratching are also symptoms of depression. Which isn’t really that surprising given that the itching is probably caused by a skin condition.
Stress and Anxiety in Canines
Scientists have recently discovered that dermatological issues are one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety in canines. As many as one in six visits to vets are the result of skin problems and it is now known that 75% of dogs with skin problems will be suffering from depression.
Zoetis, the world’s leading animal health company has conducted studies which have shown that dogs suffering from depression exhibit many of the same symptoms as humans with the condition. The most common symptom is being less playful and this is followed by being less sociable with people, restlessness, a reduced appetite and a reduced interest in interacting with other dogs.
Interestingly, canine depression also affects the quality of life of their owners. If your dog is feeling down, you may be too.
Itching and Scratching
Whilst many people assume that itching is normal dog behaviour, frequent scratching and licking is often indicative of a skin condition. If left untreated, such conditions can lead to more serious health issues. If your dog is depressed, the situation is even worse as they will be less willing to exercise.
Canine Skin Problems
Skin issues in dogs are most common around the ears and are often accompanied by inflammation. The affected areas can become infected and this is more likely if dogs keep scratching them. Constant scratching, licking and nibbling are not normal behaviours and you should seek veterinary attention at the earliest opportunity of you think that your dog may have a skin problem.
Fleas and Allergies
A flea allergy is one of the most common causes of skin conditions in dogs and summer is the season when dogs are most likely to suffer from fleas. Parasite prevention should certainly be a priority but skin conditions can also be the result of food allergies and adverse reactions to shampoos and household products. Dogs can also be affected by environmental allergens like pollen and dust. It is important to discover what the cause of a skin problem is, not just to treat the symptoms.
Scientists are currently developing a new injection for dogs which will target the itch signalling in the brain. The treatment will neutralise the protein triggered by the immune system which tells the brain to scratch. If scratching is prevented, sore areas are less likely to sustain further damage and to become infected.
Keep a close eye on your pet. If you can tackle skin problems early and find out what has caused them, you can save your dog from a serious illness and possibly a bout of depression.