Many dogs are depressed, and I believe a 'doggy psychiatrist' would call these dogs clinically depressed. The depression isn't caused by concerns about stock market or that their favorite baseball team isn't winning, it's caused greatly by little to do and with little interaction with family members. Often times there are any of or a combination of these explanations:
- More than anything else our dog merely want to be with us. With busier schedules than ever, no wonder. Mom and dad are both at work, then instead of returning home they're on driving duty, shuttling the kids to events. Young couples or young singles hang out after work, while poor doggie not only crosses her legs - but simply misses us. Under- exercised and bored the dog may get into mischief home alone. Some dogs develop (for reasons unknown) separation anxiety.
Does lifestyle play a role is the cause ofthis anxiety problem? Certainly, not always - but in some cases, sure - it's possible. Do dogs have the capacity to simply feel lonely? I think so. While another dog (or two) may help, even a cat....bottom line is that it's no substitute for being with their people.
- Under-exercised, many dogs are overweight or obese. Statistics vary, but most surveys suggest that at least half of all dogs in America are overweight or obese. As dogs grow in circumference, their metabolism slows....These dogs are more prone to arthritis (which is under diagnosed, and may be painful at younger ages and without owners being aware) and a variety of other medical problems may arise as well. Sometimes, especially if painful, these overweight dogs (as their metabolism changes) don't even want to go for walks, so we don't take them out, which leads to less exercise, which leads to further weight gain, which leads to them wanting to even go out even less. Unable and not wanting to run and play, I can argue that these dogs are depressed. They may not cognitively think, 'darn I miss that game of fetch,' but it doesn't mean that they still don't suffer from depression.
So, why are so many dogs overweight in the first place? Many reasons: Some people leave out food all day for dogs, who scarf up until we will it up and we come automatic food dispensers, too little exercise, too much time in backyards (where truth is most dogs do little except sleep), too many treats and too many table snacks. With more time with their people (outdoors playing or just walking) they may be less likely to become overweight.
- I'm not sure what the unemployment rate of dog owners is but I am certain it is far higher among their dogs. All dogs were bred to do something, from herding sheep to catching vermin to sitting in laps. These days, the majority of dogs are unemployed. Dogs live to be with their people (as I suggested) and also to do whatever it is they were bred to do....Even with no sheep to herd, a tennis ball or Frisbee disc may do for a Border Collie, for example. Of course, a Border Collie (a workaholic among dogs) needs far more. A little Shih Tzu merely needs to a warm lap, but with owners never home there may be no lap. Labradors are "happier" with games of fetch and or swimming days here and there...Just as we do better when we have 'a reason to get up in the morning,' I suggest the same is true for dogs.
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