About a month back, when I returned from a week-long trip, I noticed something very unusual about my dog Lucy’s behaviour. She was cold and distant. I thought she was upset with me for being away from her and that bothered me. Days passed by and I noticed Lucy started isolating herself. She was no longer our ever-cheerful and active pooch, running and jumping around, warmly cuddling up to us. She seemed angry and vengeful most of the times, often snapping, growling and barking at us. This wasn’t our affectionate Lucy, there was something very wrong. Besides, it wasn’t just the change in her behaviour, but also her growing obsessive skin licking habit that bothered us. It was abnormal. I noticed deep wounds around the licked areas.
My dad didn’t waste any more time and got in touch with a vet, who diagnosed her with depression and anxiety. We were alarmed. We had no knowledge that like humans, even pets suffer from depression. The vet told us Lucy’s incessant licking habit, also known as Acral lick granuloma was associated with her depression. He put her immediately on antibiotics. But, we still had to address the underlying cause for her depression—giving her more quality time. I acted upon the vet’s advice of giving Lucy more attention, almost immediately. Be it by taking a day off for her, working out together or including her in family and social gatherings—I did it all to make Lucy feel wanted, loved and cared for.
I also consulted a pet psychologist who advised me to exercise Lucy’s mind that would help in stimulating her mental health and avoid stress. Playing fun games and some challenging brain workouts did help improving her condition. Within two weeks, I witnessed a change in her behaviour. Lucy was back being her original self—the cuddly and jovial little pup, always jumping around the house with joy. We were so happy at her recovery and so much more aware about how to take better care of our furry baby.
However, unlike me, not all pet parents can spare long hours with their canines nor can they spot signs of depression in their pets. They can talk to dog consultants, who can introduce depressed canines to interesting games like sniffing, puzzles and other fun mental games. Exercising a pet’s mind is like pranayama—enhances its overall wellbeing.