Yours truly missed a section out.
Indiana sends me a ‘doc’ file with his guest post and I convert it to ‘Mac OS’ by using the software Pages. This time I missed the last section as it was on another page.
So here we go again!
Image Source: Unsplash
Three Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Dog’s Mental Health
Dogs provide unconditional love, companionship, and so much more. They can even improve your physical and mental well-being with their presence alone. For many people, dogs are more than just pets – they’re members of the family.
There’s actually more truth to that thought than you may realize. According to contemporary science, dogs go through similar chemical and hormonal changes as humans when they’re experiencing emotions. Simply put, dogs have feelings just like we do.
Dogs can experience stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and more. Because they depend on us for care, it’s important to make sure you’re prioritizing their mental well-being as well as their physical health. Your dog can’t ask you for help when they’re feeling stressed or depressed. It’s up to you to recognize some of the common signs and understand what you can do to help.
So, how can you prioritize your dog’s mental well-being? Let’s cover a few tips that can make a difference for your four-legged friend.
1. Recognize Signs of Distress
If someone in your family is feeling anxious or depressed, they can talk to you about it. They can reach out for help when it’s needed. You might even have an easier time picking up on some of the common signs, including a sense of hopelessness or social isolation.
While your dog can’t ask for help when they’re feeling stressed or depressed, there are still signs you should look out for. According to the American Kennel Club, some of the most common symptoms of depression in dogs include
- Clingy behavior
- Loss of interest in things they typically love
- Withdrawing from people
You know your dog better than anyone. If it seems like their demeanor has changed and they look sadder or seem lethargic, don’t ignore it. Depression can be brought on by everything from grief to chronic pain. Rule out any medical issues that could be causing those changes by working with your dog’s vet. If they’re otherwise healthy, it’s fairly safe to assume their mental health is suffering and they need help.
2. Keep Them Active
Like humans, dogs need regular exercise. It benefits their physical health, but it also promotes mental wellness. Different breeds need different amounts of physical activity. However, a good rule of thumb is anywhere from 30-45 minutes each day.
A sedentary lifestyle isn’t just harmful to your dog’s physical health. It can fuel symptoms of depression. How would you feel if you had to lay around all day with no mental or physical stimulation? It might be fine for a while, but it would be easy to fall into a “funk” without something to look forward to.
Taking your dog for a walk each day, going to the local park to let them run around, or even hiking with your four-legged friend can improve their mental health as well as yours. Exercising together will also strengthen your bond and provide your dog with the mental stimulation they need to reduce stress and feel calmer.
You’ve probably heard the saying that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. However, a dog that’s tired from an hour or so of exercise is also likely to be a happier dog!
3. Learn What They Love
Dogs often get stereotyped as being happy or excited all the time. While there’s no better feeling than seeing your furry friend wag their tail when you get home each day, it’s important to understand that they can have interests and hobbies they enjoy more than others.
Finding out what your dog loves to do can make it easier to improve their mental well-being.
When you live in a pet-friendly city, it’s easy to cater to your dog’s likes. These locations offer things like
- Pet-friendly parks
- Opportunities for socialization
- Restaurants that allow you to bring your dog
You’ll boost your own social connections (and mental health) in pet-friendly environments by meeting like-minded people and getting more support. You can also quickly learn more about your dog’s interests, simply through exploration. Maybe they prefer long nature hikes as opposed to walking in the city. Maybe they get really excited when they’re around other dogs, so you can spend more time at local parks or pet-friendly restaurants.
Don’t be afraid to try new things with your canine companion. Even bringing them to work with you can help to improve your bond and keep them from feeling lonely all day.
The most important thing you can do for your dog’s mental health is to pay attention. Look for any changes in their behavior, and get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. Your dog depends on you for everything, and it’s not fair to assume that their mental health can’t change and fluctuate as much as anyone else’s.
(That’s better this time)
Right on! Dogs sleep a great deal more than we humans but they still need their exercise. Just as we humans need it, exercise is key. Key to their physical fitness but also key to their mental fitness as well. This is a great post from Indiana and I shall conclude with this video: