Can A Dog Be Depressed?

Sep 27 2012 @ 3:00pm

Eddysuitcase

The trauma of moving to a new empty apartment in a new city has certainly turned Eddy into a total mess. She hates change (dogs are wise conservatives) and is a rescue-dog, so always panics if abandoned. Aaron had to go to DC for a few days, and every time I left, Eddy would howl as if terrified. The police were called. She doesn't have her crate yet and one morning we found her sleeping in one of our suitcases (above). She's now staying with a friend we have all stayed with before, and is much calmer. But her range of emotion appears to me as vast. Dusty (not a rescue) on the other hand is more like Snoopy. Nothing much fazes her. All that matters is food. But even she gave me major attitude when I went to see her.

Malcolm Harris asked Laurel Braitman, author of Animal Madness, about her own experience:

I had a dog at the time, my partner and I had adopted a Burnese Mountain Dog. And he was fine for the first six months and then he went spectacularly crazy. He developed a debilitating case of separation anxiety. If we left him alone he would destroy himself, the house, anything in the way. He nearly killed himself at least once. So I had to take him to the vet hospital after he jumped out of our 4th floor apartment, and they said I had to take him to a veterinary behaviorist who would give him a prescription for Prozac and Valium.

I was stopped in my tracks. I had heard there were some animals taking these drugs, but I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would put an animal on Prozac. But I found myself in a desperate situation with a 120 pound dog and I tried all these things and they didn’t work, so I became that person that puts her dog on antidepressants. Prozac didn’t work for him really, but the Valium did, at least in the short term.

The experience drew her to study animal personality:

As most people who live with other animals can attest, you can have two dogs with an identical upbringing in the same house, and one might develop a debilitating fear of vacuum cleaners, and the other could be just fine. This might not have much to do with the environment, and that’s where personality and individual difference come in. We see that in people all the time, you can have two people exposed to the same event, and it could haunt one person and not the other. It’s a pan-animal sort of mystery: Why some of us are more susceptible to certain experiences than others, and what are our triggers. It extends far beyond the human species. It’s not just humans driving other animals crazy, they are more than capable of doing it themselves.