Today’s blog post talks about ‘Husky Depression’. We start the discussion with a brief understanding of the huskies as a breed. This is then followed by an overview of depression in dogs. We then take into account the causes of husky depression, followed by the symtpoms. Lastly, we look into various tips that can be implemented to help the dog cope with its condition.
Huskies as well as many other dogs experience depression. Studies have shown that the canine brains are advanced and huskies do have the capacity to develop complex emotions just like the humans such as anger, happiness, jealousy and depression. Because of their capacity to develop complex emotions just like humans, their depression may also look similar to that of humans.
Here are a few symptoms that they may help in understanding that your husky is experiencing husky depression:
- Decreased excitability
- Excessive sleeping
- Limp tail
- Urinating indoors
- Excessive paw-licking
The husky, officially known as the Siberian Husky, is a thick coated, compact sled dog of medium size and has great endurance. This breed came to popularity because they could work in packs and pull loads at moderate speeds over vast frozen surfaces. The breed is known for being friendly, fastidious and dignified.
They are famous for their brown and blue eyes and in rare cases, may have one eye of each colour. They are quick footed and are known for their effortless gait along with being energetic. The dogs are also good and friendly with children and require adequate exercise and training.
Depression in dogs:
Depression in dogs is very similar to the depression experienced in humans. However, the major difference in the depression seen in dogs and humans is that, there are very overt signs of human depression in the form of withdrawal from regular activities, sleep and appetite disturbance, rumination, worrying, irritability, sadness, anger etc.
But the dogs may not be able to show that they are depressed in many of these forms, yet it does not mean that they cannot be depressed.
Much of the evidence on dog depression is based on the experiences of the dog owners and there is much more research that may be required.
Causes of husky depression:
There can be a number of factors that may cause husky depression.
- Not enough exercise:
Huskies are originally sled dogs and that means they require an adequate amount of exercise in various forms. They require ample exercise on a daily basis for at least an hour. If the dog is not taken out for walks and runs, is not given physically challenging tasks such as fetching the ball, running through an obstacle course or any form of activity that helps in flexing the muscles, they are likely to develop behavioural issues that may make them sad and irritable in nature.
All dogs, including huskies, age much faster as compared to humans, which makes them more prone to experiencing illnesses. There are some forms of illnesses that are inherent to a breed, while some are acquired illnesses, that may occur due to several anomalies.
If the dog has digestive issues, skin infections, cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancers or any other form of infection, there is a high chance that the husky will experience sadness, lowering of energy, loss of appetite, sleeplessness or excessive sleeping and restlessness, all of which can lead to depression induced by medical conditions.
One of the predominant reasons for husky depression is neglect. It is not uncommon for dog owners to leave their dogs alone while they go out for work and other reasons. While the dogs can stay alone for some period of time, being alone for an extended period of time can be a precursor for depression.
Huskies by nature are very friendly and are inherently pack dogs which means they require the presence of others around them. Lack of company and attention for a long time can make them susceptible to husky depression.
- Abuse and mistreatment:
Dog owners may sometimes scold the dogs for misbehaviour or for any other form of misconduct. However, when the husky is constantly abused in the forms of being beaten, not being given enough food, not being given enough water, not being exercised or played with and is kept tied all the time, then these are signs of mistreatment against the husky, which can make them sad and perhaps also aggressive, making them prone to developing husky depression.
- Climate problems:
Huskies are alaskan dogs, which means they are used to cold climates. Their fur and skin is also developed in a way that they can sustain the harsh and cold weather. But, if they are adopted into different climates such as tropical climates, which are hot and humid, they may experience extreme discomfort, which may affect them not only physically, but also emotionally. This may increase their irritability, restlessness, appetite problems, sleep issues and become a precursor for husky depression.
- Poor diet:
Huskies are a working breed, which means that they have been used to carry load across distances. This also means that they need to have foods that provide them with energy and they need to have it in adequate amounts. However, feeding them too much or too less and not feeding them the right amount for food can be detrimental to their physical as well as mental health.
Dogs and especially huskies can understand human emotions and have a capacity to empathize. This means that the husky has the capacity to bereave the death of a family member or another dog in the family. They may also experience similar symptoms if someone from the family moves out permanently. They may react by sitting near that person’s belongings, crying, not being active and eating less.
Further, dogs are known to sense depressed. This means that the dog is likely to mirror the owner’s symptoms if the owner is depressed.
- Having a new member in the family:
Just like humans may get a little uncomfortable with the arrival of a new sibling or a new partner, and may take time to adjust, huskies may react in a similar fashion. If they are not able to accept the change and the new member, they are likely to feel depressed. They are most likely to feel left out and unattended which may trigger sadness and withdrawal.
- Moving places:
Huskies are territorial in nature and the house they live in becomes their territory. They are used to being in that space. But when they have to move houses and locations, they may experience distress, just in the way humans may experience distress while moving to a new place. Confusion and unfamiliarity can make them depressed.
Symptoms of husky depression:
As we have come to know the nature of huskies, we can now take a look at some symptoms that may help us understand husky depression better.
- Decreased excitability:
As huskies are usually active dogs, sudden dip in the levels of activity along with interest and motivation to exercise can be an indication that the dog is depressed. They may refuse to get up, get tired very easily and throw tantrums when exercising. They may also not be their usual excited self when they see their owners.
- Excessive sleeping:
Dogs usually catch up on sleep when they are left alone in the house. However, if the dog is sleeping more than usual and for longer intervals at a stretch, then it may be a sign of depression.
The dog may choose to stay in their comfortable place and not move even to drink water or to eat. In severe cases, they may refuse to go out completely.
- Limp tail:
The dog’s body language, especially the tail explains a lot of their emotions. If the husky’s tail is perpetually limp, then it is a sign that they are not in their usual mood and may need help as early as possible.
In most cases, dogs may not eat well or may refuse to eat completely when depressed. However, in some cases, they may overeat as a way of coping with their condition. Sudden weight gain may be a sign of depression.
Some huskies may become restless when depressed. They are likely to get easily startled, have sleep difficulties, their vigilance increases and they are likely to pace from one point to another in the house endlessly. This may be another symptom of husky depression.
- Urinating indoors:
Usually when dogs are trained, they urinate only at designated places; either in the bathroom, backyard or when they are out for a walk. They often also indicate to their owners when they need to defecate or urinate.
However, when a well trained dog urinates frequently inside the house, it may be a stress response and has to be looked into as a sign of husky depression.
- Excessive paw licking:
This is one of the least known symptoms of husky depression. Paw licking or paw chewing can be a sign that the dog is under stress and may be depressed.
In usual cases, dogs are likely to lick their paw when they have an injury or are hurt. But when paw licking and chewing is seen without any injury, it is done to sooth the self.
Can we deal with husky depression?
Yes. It is very well possible for the dog owners to deal with husky depression. The following tips can be useful in helping the dog cope with the situation:
- Rule out medical conditions:
Because dogs cannot communicate their emotional symptoms in a distinct manner like humans, their response to physical and emotional trauma can be similar and hence can be mistaken for depression. Before concluding that the husky is depressed, it is best to take it to the vet to rule out the possibility of any medical conditions.
- Try to get your dog back to their usual routine:
The dog’s routine may undergo a change if they are depressed. However, trying to get them back to the same routine that they had before depression can be helpful. It can give them a sense of familiarity and security which often gets lost in depression.
- Give them attention:
Huskies function well when they are given a sufficient amount of attention. The arrival of a new family member or the absence of the owner may make them insecure and left out. Spending some time exclusively with your dog can not only strengthen the bond but also give the dog an assurance that it is still loved and cared for.
Involving the dog in as many household activities as possible can reconfirm their faith and trust in the owner.
- Feed their curiosity:
Huskies as a breed are possessive of their things such as their leash, their toys and their accessories. Getting them a new leash or a new squeaky toy can motivate them to exercise and go for walks. It may also get them excited which often lacks in husky depression.
- Encourage socialisation:
Huskies are a social breed. This quality can be used effectively to help them cope with depression. Like humans, they may also undergo social withdrawal. However, socialising it with other dogs, talking to dog parks can give the husky an opportunity to interact and play with other dogs.
- Try different games with your husky:
Huskies respond well to novel games and if a particular game brings out a positive response, it would be best to play that new game to encourage such positive responses. Any activity or behaviour that increases positivity should be continued.
- Offer reinforcement:
Huskies like playing a ‘role’ and then be rewarded for it as it makes them happy and is proof that they work hard. Repeating a few training exercises and rewarding the dog with a treat for following instructions can help. Also if the husky helps the owner by following any other instruction which is rewarded, then that can increase motivation and can increase levels of activity that have lowered during husky depression.
On an ending note, it is always necessary to be in contact with a vet throughout the recovery process for correct guidance and supplements, if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions: Husky Depression
Can dogs become suicidal?
Some dogs can refuse food from some unknown person after the death of their owner, a behavior that might lead to disease or death in severe cases. The death of mourning animals is likely to be caused by depression leading to starvation instead of the intention of suicide.
Do Huskies have separation anxiety?
Yes. Huskies may experience separation anxiety. They may howl, whine or otherwise vocalize his displeasure at your leaving the house and his being left alone.
Can Huskies sense sadness?
Dogs are intuitive.There is evidence that suggests that dogs are clever enough to tell if their owner or even a stranger is sad, happy, stressed, pregnant or ill. Research shows some dogs can also sense your mood and health condition.
Why does a dog look sad and tired?
If the dog is not feeling well, he may seem sad or depressed. Just like humans, dogs tend to feel listless when they are sick or injured.
Why do dogs hide when sick?
In the wild, ill animals hide to avoid predators by finding concealed resting places. Although the sick or injured pet is in no danger in your home, his or her instincts trigger the immediate desire to seek a safe hiding place.
Today’s blog post talked about ‘Husky Depression’. We started the discussion with a brief understanding of the huskies as a breed. This was then followed by an overview of depression in dogs. We then took into account the causes of husky depression, followed by the symtpoms. Lastly, we looked into various tips that can be implemented to help the dog cope with its condition.
I hope the blog was able to help readers understand the multiple dimensions of husky depression. Please feel free to drop in your comments and queries below.
What we recommend for depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.