Is your dog depressed? Horror pet warning as study pinpoints major signs to look out for

THREE QUARTERS of UK dogs show signs of poor mental health, according to new research.

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The study, conducted by the charity Guide Dogs, showed as many as 74 percent - roughly 8.8 million - dogs exhibit symptoms of anxiety or depression regularly.

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Poor mental health in dogs can be triggered by a whole variety of different things, including major changes in their surroundings such as a new pet, spouse or baby in the home.

Moving home can also negatively impact dogs, as well as experiencing a distressing event such as a fellow pooch dying.

If owners are depressed or unhappy themselves this can also trigger similar feelings in their canine companion.

Symptoms of dog depression can be similar to those in humans, including withdrawing from social situations, being quieter than normal and appearing more lethargic.

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Dog looking sad

Study finds nearly three quarters of UK dogs show signs of poor mental health (Image: Getty)

golden retriever looking sad

Around 8.8 million dogs exhibit behaviour indicating anxiety or depression (Image: Getty)

The most common signs include a loss of appetite, destructiveness and low activity levels.

Dogs that have lost interest in things they used to enjoy, or are hyperactive and bark incessantly, could be bored or frustrated, experts say.

The findings came as a result of Guide Dogs' poll that assessed 1,000 dog owners and found that a quarter of owners admitted they didn't realise dogs could suffer poor mental health.

Many owners will try to cheer their pups up by giving them a treat or taking them for a long walk.

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Dogs can also get depressed when another family dog dies (Image: Getty)

dog looking sad

Quarter of dog owners didn't know dogs could get depression (Image: Getty)

But experts say "this is an outdated viewpoint" and other forms of stimulation are just as important.

Dr Helen Whiteside, chief scientific officer at Guide Dogs, said: "It’s an outdated viewpoint to think that dogs just need a walk or two a day to be content.

"Without different forms of mental stimulation, dogs can begin to show signs of behavioural issues, such as anxiety and frustration, which can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing."

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owner hugging dog

Showing dogs more attention can help alleviate depression (Image: Getty)

Ensuring your pup regularly takes part in a variety of activities can help keep things interesting and reduce anxiety or depression creeping in.

Dr Whiteside suggests creating food-based problem-solving puzzles, giving your dog a lick mat, and taking them on a ‘sniffari’ walk, allowing the dog to stop and sniff wherever they like.

Experts also suggest giving dogs more attention, keeping them active, maintaining a regular routine and encouraging socialising with other dogs.

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The charity said increased mental stimulation will also mean dogs will need good quality sleep and downtime too.

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