Experts have claimed that almost a million British dogs are suffering from mental health disorders.
A study conducted by Emory University scientists in 2013 showed that dogs’ brains are strikingly similar to the human brain – especially when it comes to emotions. Like humans, dogs who suffer from conditions like anxiety or depression can self-harm and severely damage their overall health by not eating or exercising.
Dog behaviourist and trainer, Louise Glazebrook, said: ‘Mental health issues in dogs is a very real problem, with dogs across Britain suffering from a range of disorders – most commonly depression and anxiety… It is always important for an owner to understand the cause rather than simply believing that they are being naughty.’Research has shown that the top causes of mental health issues for dogs are the following:
- being left alone too much
- abuse from former owners,
- the loss of a companion – either human or animal
- loud noises.
- lack of exercise
- a change in routine
- tone of voice
- not being taken out with their owners
- not being petted enough not going on their favourite walk.
Nearly two thirds of British dog owners have admitted they feel guilty about leaving their canine companion at home when they are out and 16% said they left their pooches alone for up to seven hours at a time.
Research from Rover.com found that some owners had to take time off work to deal with their pup’s mental health issues. They took four days off on average in 2018, meaning employers lost 31.5 million working days.
Here are some ways in which you can help to improve your pets mental health:
- Exercise and mental stimulation – A sedentary lifestyle can lead to anxiety and depression in dogs, which can often cause erratic or destructive behaviour.
- Massage and body awareness – a gentle massage can help to ease an anxious dog.
- Natural or prescribed medicines – holistic remedies can be very effective for pets, for example using essential oils can be extremely beneficial to a dogs wellbeing. Lavender oil can be used to ease the emotional wellbeing of your dog – it can be put in an oil diffuser or used topically (mix 1 – 3 tablespoons of carrier oil depending on size of dog, with 1 drop oil). Putting lavender oil onto your dogs paw pads also may help with mental wellbeing (back paws between toe pads – paws are sensitive so do take care). However, please remember to only use pure essential oils on your pets, and do your research to see if particular ones are recommended for pet use. Here is one of our favourite oils to use which is of a very high quality: Lavender.
For more information on dogs and depression check out this great site and article.