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Is There a Natural Antidepressant for Dogs?

Close up of a multicolor sad dogs face

Depression is extremely painful for dogs (just like humans) and can be destructive to their health and behavior. Fortunately, dog depression can be treated with several natural remedies and treatments. For example, exercise is considered an effective natural antidepressant for dogs. Keep reading to know about the causes and signs of depression and learn which natural commodities can be given to your dog for anxiety.

Need to know “How to Cheer Up a Depressed Dog”? Click here to learn more.

Causes of Depression in Dogs

The very first thing that you should do (in case of dog depression) is to take your pup to the vet. This is important because the vet will examine the dog to rule out underlying conditions. Once the vet declares your dog as healthy, you can look for other factors. Some of the biggest reasons for depression in dogs are as follows.

  • Boredom
  • Fear
  • Lack of attention
  • Moving to a new environment
  • Leaving/death of a family member
  • Significant changes in routine

Signs of Depression in Dogs

Golden Retriever laying next to a full bowl of food, not wanting to eat

Dogs can show a range of symptoms when they are depressed. Some of the most common ones among them are listed below.

  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of energy (lethargy)
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Aggression
  • Excessive licking
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

Do Dogs Take Human Antidepressants? Click here to learn more.

Is There Anything Natural I Can Give My Dog for Anxiety?

Capsules full of natural herbs, spices, supplements on a white background

Most depressed dogs will require some antidepressants (in addition to plenty of care and attention) to feel better. A lot of owners are hesitant to use conventional antidepressants because they can have serious side effects. Natural remedies and antidepressants are perfect alternatives for these owners because they would calm your pup without causing any harm. Let’s discuss some of the best options that can be used as a natural antidepressant for dogs.

NOTE: Make sure to always check with your vet before giving any herbs/medications to your dog.

Homeopathic Treatments

Ignatia is a very popular homeopathic medication to treat depression and anxiety among dogs. Although it is known to be very fast and effective, you must observe the dog and see if there is any improvement or not. The recommended dose is 1-2 drops (for 2-3 days) but some canines are unable to overcome the grief with this dosage and may need a few extra drops. In that case, it’s necessary to discuss the situation with a holistic vet to avoid any side effects.

Herbs

Person in a field of St John's Wort cupping it in their hands

Several herbs are used to treat depression in humans and a lot of them work for dogs as well. For instance, St. John’s Wort is a very popular herb for the treatment of anxiety. It has a long history of curing depressed individuals and will do quite well for your furry friend.

Similarly, Sandalwood is another herb that is very effective in calming your pooch. It is not only relaxing but also quite safe for dogs and won’t cause them any harm. The anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of this herb make it even more valuable. The only drawback of Sandalwood is its high price. However, you can use the hydrosol of this herb to keep things affordable. 

Essential Oils

Brown glass bottle with a medicine dropper being held over it, dripping liquid into the bottle

Aromatherapy is one of the best natural antidepressants for dogs. It can calm their nerves and allows them to overcome their fears and anxiety. A wide range of essential oils can be used for this purpose. However, it’s highly recommended to consult your vet to determine the right type of oil (and its quantity).

Lavender oil is the preferred option of many veterinarians because of its numerous benefits. It is safe for most dogs and is often readily available in most households. However, make sure that you don’t apply it directly to the skin of your pup because it can be toxic. Instead, put 1-2 drops of lavender oil on your dog’s bed or blanket. The aroma of the essential oil will make your pooch calm and comfortable without causing any harm.

Pheromones

Although pheromones are generally recommended for cats, they can be useful to calm your pups. These calming products are readily available in the markets and it can be tricky to choose the right one. Hence, it’s a much better idea to consult your vet rather than choosing a harmful pheromone.

Pheromones come in different settings (sprays, plug-in diffusers, etc.) and you can choose the most suitable one. These products release a chemical similar to the hormone of nursing mothers which is very calming for young dogs. They can also be used to minimize temporary stress caused during veterinary trips and other situations.

Gentian

Blue/ Purple Gentian flowers on a white background.

This natural antidepressant is particularly used to counter the stress of losing a family member. Dogs suffering from this form of anxiety will lose interest in daily activities (including eating). Therefore, their health can deteriorate very quickly and it’s necessary to give them something with immediate effect. Gentian can help them overcome the grief and will bring them back to life.

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