Time to Talk Day – Thursday 7th February 2019
Mental health affects one in four of us yet people are
still afraid to talk to each other about it; usually due to insecurities, experiencing
embarrassment and feeling worried about what others will think of them. This
subsequently means that many of us suffer in isolation, which can often have a
detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health and well-being. Time to
Talk Day is all about bringing people together so that they feel comfortable to
have ‘that’ conversation. Whether it’s with a cup of tea, a chat with a close
friend or meeting up with a family member, the aim is to break the stigma of
talking about mental health and raising awareness in the process. Here at
Scamps and Champs we recognise that it isn’t just humans that suffer with
mental health issues, our beloved dogs can too! Therefore, we aim to prompt the
conversation with our followers regarding mental health for dogs, in order to
inform you with what problems can look like and signs to look out for. By
raising awareness and promoting an informed discussion regarding your dog’s
mental health, we also hope to arm you with the details you need to support
your furry friend on the road to recovery.
So how can my Dog be affected by Mental Health?
As we know
mental health is just as real as physical health and can be completely debilitating if it isn’t treated
correctly. Believe it or not our dogs can be affected by many of the same
mental health issues us humans can from anxiety, depression, social anxiety and
post-traumatic stress disorder, but how can mental health problems in our dogs
be recognised and how can they be treated? People’s experiences impact who they
are and how they choose to behave, it is the same with our four-legged friends.
A positive experience can influence us to make excellent choices and model us
into decent human beings, who have the ability to act and react in a
well-rounded thought out way. However, a negative experience can cause
stress and have a lasting detrimental impact on the way we chose to behave.
Below we are going to cover the main mental health issues that can be
experienced by dogs, explain how to identify each condition and then offer some
advice on how to support your pawly pal back to health.
common form of anxiety identified within dogs is separation anxiety, this is
where your dog absolutely hates being separated from its owner, particularly
for extended periods of time. This could be due to spending too much time with
the owner as a puppy and then circumstances altering, for example an owner
obtaining a new job that takes them out of the home environment. However,
separation anxiety can occur in dogs that have had a troubled start in life and
therefore do not like to be left on their own, as they fear that something bad
will happen to them.
that your dog has separation anxiety:
dog becoming erratic as you leave the house
to your home being found on your return home
mess accidents being found on your return home
is to seek professional help from a dog behaviour expert who can assist you in
identifying why your dog has separation anxiety. Then work with them to find a
solution that suits your dog’s individual needs. If you have a new puppy it is
important that you create them a space they feel safe in such as a crate, bed or
small room, which is their personal safe space of comfort. Then work on
settling your puppy into its safe space each time that you go out and leave
your puppy for short bursts of time, such as ten minutes to begin with whilst
you go to the shop. Then gradually increase the time you leave them up to four
hours, once they are old enough to hold the toilet and wait to go outside.
Often leaving a speech radio station
on such as BBC Radio 4 in the safe space, can assist in keeping them company
and mask outside noises that may be initially frightening for your dog.
can be experienced in dogs when an alteration of routine occurs. This can be in
the form of a change in home environment, an alteration in food or walking
routine or following the death of a fellow canine companion. Whereas in humans
a ‘change of scene’ may be beneficial for depression, any change can actually
be the trigger of depression in dogs.
that your dog has depression:
in sleeping habits
of interest in usual activities
improve this by creating and maintaining a daily routine for your dogs, keeping
their life aspects as consistent as possible. Taking your dogs out and exercising
them efficiently in fields where they can enjoy the grass, mud and fresh air.
If you have just experienced the death of another loved pet and your dog is
showing signs of depression, give them as much love and attention as you can,
support them through the difficult phase. If symptoms of depression persist
then seek advice from your veterinary health professional as they may have
further advice or your dog may have an underlying condition that needs treating
extremely sociable animals and enjoy lots of walks, cuddles and most importantly
company. They require a lot of attention and tender loving care, just like we
do! However, if dogs are not socialised properly as puppies or if they are
bought up in isolation, they can develop social anxieties which are not usually
associated with their breed. Thus, meaning that when you try and socialise your
dog out in public and it is approached by another dog, your dog can become
aggressive as it is frightened about what the other dog may do to it.
that your dog has social anxiety:
and excessive barking
The best way
to eliminate social anxiety is to commence training whilst your dog is young,
by socialising your dog with other humans and dogs on a regular basis. This can
cause an issue if you have adopted a dog or you have obtained an adult dog from
a rescue shelter, as it will already have established negative behaviours
within previous years. In this case it is advisable to seek professional
assistance from a dog behaviourist or dog trainer, who can tailor support to
your individual dog’s needs. In addition, you need to establish trust with your
new furry friend, by spending as much time with them as you can and positively
rewarding good behaviour with treats. This needs to include gradually
introducing other dogs to your dog, commencing on a one-on-one basis and taking
it slowly, monitoring your dog’s reactions and rewarding positive experiences
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
stress disorder occurs in dogs following a traumatic event, just as it does in
humans. This can occur through mistreatment, physical violence or abuse, from
humans or sometimes from other dogs. This can cause long-lasting mental health
issues with crippling effects on a dog’s life, as triggers such as similar
noises or places, can cause the dog to relive the trauma over and over again.
that a dog has post-traumatic stress disorder:
of anxiety and depressive symptoms (as above)
As with anxiety
and depression, canine post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) can cause your
dog to act out more than usual or in un-characteristically for the individual
dog. It is recommended that you seek immediate assistance from your veterinary
doctor in order to see if medical assistance is required. Dog behaviour and
training can assist you in addition moving forward and with the correct
treatment for your dog CPTSD can subside within a couple of months.
further look at our business Scamps and Champs and
our full range of pet caring services available.