October 13, 2012

'Depressed' dog likely physically ill

Dear Dog Lady,

My dog of seven years has been very depressed lately. He usually wants attention and is very hyper and barks a lot. But, during these past couple of weeks, he stays hidden from me and doesn’t bark if anyone comes to the door, which he did all the time. And he is also scared to climb the stairs, which was never a problem. Did I do something wrong? — John

A: This isn’t about you; it’s about your dog. Be your own best pet detective. You know your dog better than anyone. You sense he is “depressed,” but please be aware dogs are not humans. Our depression can be caused by sadness or other psychological trauma, but dogs’ droopiness is usually a signal of a physical problem. Dog Lady advises you to take your 7-year-old sweetie to a veterinarian for a checkup.

When a dog’s behavior changes drastically, there should be great concern because it means something really is not right. Your dog is not feeling well. He doesn’t want to climb stairs. He hides away. Dog Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on the Internet, but she knows these clues often point to some sort of canine physical illness.

Sure, dogs get mopey. Oppressive weather can lay them low, or missing their humans can drag them out. But they don’t get “depressed” as we know depression. What would be wrong is to avoid doing the conscientious thing. Please take your dog to see an animal medical professional as soon as possible.

Dear Dog Lady,

The other day, I was driving in my neighborhood and I saw a woman and her dog — white, medium-sized, an Eskimo dog, I think. The dog was squatting near the curb, and the woman seemed to be ignoring it. She looked as if she was not going to pick up. I stopped the car, rolled down the window and asked the woman if she needed a bag. She looked at me as if I was crazy and held up a full bag destined, I hope, for the trash can. I was so embarrassed and drove away quickly. What should I do if I see this woman again? (I’ll recognize her dog not her.) Apologize? — Claudia

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