How to Recognize Mental Illnesses in Dogs

Wednesday, August 01, 2018 09:31:04 AM America/Los_Angeles

Experience is often what shapes us into who we are--positive experiences can mold us into better people while negative ones can result in detrimental behaviors. The same can be said for dogs. Dogs are incredibly in tune with their owners and some would say that they're even more hypersensitive than humans, making them susceptible to mild cases of mental illness. Dogs that are treated well will more than likely show positive behavior, whereas dogs who have been abused or neglected can exhibit symptoms of mental illnesses.    

Some of the more common mental illnesses exhibited by dogs can be categorized as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Your dog may show signs of an underlying mental condition that you were unaware of when you first brought them home and may also be at the root of behavioral problems like difficult potty training.

First, you need to make sure that you're paying attention to your dog's mental health at all times. Keeping an eye on your dog is essential for being able to recognize mental illness. Don't just let them live outside in the yard if they exhibit dog illness symptoms. Keep them indoors where you can keep an eye on them, interact, and play with them! If they miss the yard, you can give them their own fresh patch of hydroponic grass indoors. DoggieLawn is a sanitary mess and odor free indoor dog bathroom alternative to the outdoors if you see your dog demonstrating things like social anxiety or PTSD symptoms. Let’s look at some common mental illnesses that dogs experience and how you can support your dog if they’re being affected by them. 

scared dog


One of the biggest causes of anxiety in dogs is separation anxiety. It's common for dogs to experience extreme anxiety whenever you leave your home to go about your daily business. They have no way of telling if you'll ever come back home and thus begin to panic. Dogs will oftentimes lash out in a moment of panic without realizing it, which can result to torn furniture and other personal belongings in the house. A lot of times, dogs with seperation anxiety will have accidents in the house. One way to help relieve their anxiety is to have an indoor dog potty solution. This way, your dog has one less thing they need to rely on you for and to worry about, which should reduce at least part their anxiety. (If you know someone whose dog could use a DoggieLawn you can share THIS LINK with them so they can get a discount). Although separation anxiety is a major cause of doggie distress, there are still other factors that could be causing your dog to be anxious, such as social anxiety (discussed below).

By otsphoto via shutterstock


One of the best ways to help remedy your dog’s anxiety is proper training. Instilling discipline into your dog is key to helping them overcome the woes of anxiety. You'll want to focus on training them to be calm, especially whenever you have to leave your home for extended periods of time. As previously mentioned, having an indoor dog grass system in place could also be helpful. There are various training methods you can utilize to gradually improve your dog’s anxiety. 


Dogs experience depression differently than humans do. While people may enjoy a change of scenery, routine, or bringing new people into their lives, dogs do not cope as well with major and erratic changes in their environment. Dogs prefer routine and when that routine is changed, they may briefly experience the blues. Canines are also pack animals. When they experience the death of a fellow dog or owner, they can become depressed about the loss of a companion. As a disclaimer, make sure that your dog’s depression is not a medical concern first. Always check with your veterinarian first before diagnosing them yourself. You could be overlooking a potential medical concern.


One of the best solutions you can implement for your dog is to try and keep your schedule as consistent as possible. Dogs function better whenever there is consistency in your daily routines. Give them lots of love, especially if they've just experienced the death of a fellow dog or owner. Also consider taking them out to the park to play around in fresh grass. Dogs enjoy the outdoors and taking them out routinely can provide health benefits. 


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder happens after a traumatic event. Humans can experience it after severe trauma and it's most commonly found in military veterans who are returning home from deployment. However, canines are also susceptible to PTSD’s crippling effects. Canine PTSD can happen after your dog experiences something traumatic, whether they've been abused or attacked by another dog, canine PTSD can cause them to act out if they were to face a similar scenario that caused the trauma in the first place.


Like anxiety and depression, PTSD can cause you dog to act out more than usual. It is recommended that you take your dog to your veterinarian to see if medication is required. Fortunately, PTSD is treatable and usually goes away after a couple of months of treatment. After the medication treatment has ended, slowly reintroduce your dog to what makes them anxious to help them build their confidence once again.

Social Anxiety

Dogs are social animals. They require attention just like humans do. Though it's abnormal, some breeds of dogs display anti-social behavior. Social anxiety can stem from dogs who were raised in isolation as puppies and never learned to socialize with other dogs and humans. This can cause a slew of detrimental behaviors, with aggression being the most common and notable one. It's common to find social anxiety in dogs who were raised in puppy mills, as well as stray dogs who were found on the streets. These dogs did not receive the love that most puppies did, which can cause behavioral issues when they reach adulthood. If your dog suffers from social anxiety, having a DoggieLawn in the house can be helpful while they become more accustomed to being outside and around others 


The best solution to prevent social anxiety in dogs is to start introducing them to other dogs and humans when they are young. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Many dogs who were adopted as adults are already set in their ways. This is when the real training begins. Slowly gain their trust by spending as much time as you can with them, giving them positive reinforcement for their actions. This includes treats for good habits such as completing housebreaking training. Introduce them to other dogs on a regular basis to help them develop their social skills too. This will help your dog come out of their shell and be the friendly pup they were always meant to be!