What Is Postpartum Depression In Dogs?
Last Updated on July 12, 2021 by Ephraim Iyodo
Postpartum depression usually occurs in female dogs after puppies are born. Depression can occur quickly or last for several weeks.
Depression in dogs is not very different from depression in humans. Dogs become withdrawn. They become inactive. Their eating and sleeping habits often change. They don’t participate in the things they used to enjoy.
Postpartum depression in dogs occurs when a female dog shows signs of depression after the birth of her offspring. It can be caused by hormones, current stress, or past anxiety manifesting itself now. This can lead to feelings of biological malaise and various negative behaviors.
Your dog’s hormones increase consistently during pregnancy, and when she gives birth, her hormones suddenly drop. This includes progesterone and prolactin, which can affect dopamine, so their moods along with a huge change in hormone levels in such a short period of time. This drop is what causes depression.
Another cause, although it is often found along with hormonal imbalances, is stress.
Weight gain, hormonal changes, childbirth itself can all be very stressful and can lead to depression.
Also, if your dog usually has high anxiety or has experienced a lot of stress in the past, he is much more likely to develop postpartum depression because of the stress caused by the situation.
Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression In Dogs
There are signs your female dog may exhibit to show that she has postpartum depression such as:
LOSS OF INTEREST IN PUPPIES
If your female is not showing attention to her pups, she may be experiencing postpartum depression.
Not having to clean her pup, spending time with them, or even breastfeeding them are all signs that she is depressed about the situation, or her possible depression means that she is seeking isolation.
Even if she is always lying down with her pups, pay attention to her level of communication with them. Does she care for them, check on them and keep them close to her, or just stay there?
After giving birth and taking care of an entire litter, your female will obviously be more tired than usual. However, it is not normal if she sleeps all the time.
Indeed, a lactating dog has to wake up regularly to check on her pups, pee, defecate, and eat.
If you find that she only sleeps, keep in mind that this is a symptom of postpartum depression in the dog. She will be more tired at first after giving birth and should gradually become more awake and alert for longer periods of time over the next days and weeks.
Also, is she reluctant to wake up, even if she is being prodded or pestered by puppies? Ask yourself all these questions to see if her sleeping habits are normal.
LOSS OF APPETITE
Has your female suddenly stopped eating her food? Perhaps she does not drink or drinks little. This is not normal.
The mother will be reluctant to leave her pups and may not be able to do so for long, but she needs to move around to eat and drink when needed.
If the maternity box has been set up correctly, the food bowl should be easily accessible, so the mother’s stress level should be minimal when she goes to eat.
The same goes for the water bowl. Therefore, if she still seems very reluctant or even refuses to eat at all in the first few days, this indicates a strong possibility that she is experiencing postpartum depression. Contact the vets if you are concerned about the amount of water and food she is ingesting.
Your bitch’s behavior will vary, but there are a few basic behaviors that are indicative of anxiety. Is she howling or barking intensely? Increased vocalizations are often a sign of stress and are indicative of an overburdened dog.
Is she compulsively licking one spot? This is an obsessive-compulsive behavior that dogs often use to soothe themselves.
Anxious dogs may repeatedly lick one spot, even if it irritates the skin and reduces hair growth. They will continue to do it even when they have been repeatedly persuaded not to. Is the female being willful, nervous or hiding from you or others? All of these behaviors are indicative of anxiety, a symptom and a sign of postpartum depression in dogs.
Aggression can increase during pregnancy and after puppies are born until they are weaned. Regardless of who you are, this is normal, even if you are the owner.
It becomes a sign of postpartum depression in dogs when aggression is excessive or prolonged.
A normal level of aggression occurs when you try to clean or touch the puppies before they are weaned. This may include biting your hand or growling.
Excessive aggression includes the mother outwardly looking for you to bite, not letting you in the same room, etc. Prolonged aggression is another clear sign of your dog’s postpartum depression, which shows up after weaning, which is after four weeks.
What To Do – Remedy
If she continuously refuses to eat, feed her with feed supplements through a syringe. This can last for days or weeks, depending on the severity of her condition.
All dogs are different, and some are able to recover quickly from the hormonal swings that occur after pregnancy.
Keep your dog entertained, do more of the things he enjoys, increase the amount of exercise, and all should be well.
Reward your dog when he shows signs of joy, and be careful not to encourage negative behavior by lavishing attention and treats on a depressed dog while he’s moping.
You can always pay a visit to the vet to make sure there isn’t another illness behind these symptoms.