Does Spaying Cause Depression in Female Dogs?

“I had my 10-month-old dog spayed. Unfortunately, she was pregnant at the time (by her brothers, who we had neutered the same week she went into heat). She seems depressed and just stares out into space a lot of the time. The first night I just thought it was from the medication, but she is still doing it. Can she really be feeling sad from all of this? I know dogs are not as stupid as some people think and have human emotions, but am I just overthinking its effects on her?” wrote Dawn, who’s seeking expert advice on PetHelpful’s Ask-A-Vet section.

Photo: YouTube/Top Dog Tips

In response, Dr. Mark dos Anjos explained that it is normal for dogs who have undergone surgery to feel depressed. As for those female dogs who have been spayed, they may feel depressed due to the loss of their ovaries, which results in the dissipation of pertinent hormones.

These are the common symptoms of post-surgical depression:

  • lack of appetite
  • sleeping most of the time
  • inability to fall asleep
  • inactive
  • staring out into space
Photo: YouTube/Top Dog Tips

But there are ways to cheer up a depressed dog, according to Dr. dos Anjos. One of them is to take your dog for a “sniff walk” to enjoy sunshine and her environment.

If your dog has to be left at home during the day, you can prevent her from being lonely by getting another dog for companionship, subscribing to dog TV, turning on the radio, or hiding treats in various areas for her to seek out.

Photo: YouTube/Top Dog Tips

Another option is a short-term anti-anxiety medication which you can discuss with your vet. But you should really try taking your dog for long walks and other behavioral relaxation techniques, because this type of medication is rarely needed by dogs with post-surgical depression.

Normally, post-surgical depression in dogs lasts for just a number of days. It may last longer for some, but according to experts, no clinical depression in dogs persists for more than two months.

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