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Can Dogs Become Suicidal?

According to Dr. Romain Pizzi, a specialist with the UK’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, dogs can develop suicidal depression that is either genetic (inherited) or caused by stressful events.

Dr. Pizzi told the UK’s Telegraph suicidal depression is most commonly seen in:pet parrots who are igored, under-stimulated and are fed a poor diet. These neglected and abused birds will often pick their feathers out to the point where they bleed to death.

Dogs, said Pizzi, who suffer the same type of abuse and neglect, who have few, if any toys, and are not allowed to interact with their owners or other dogs can purposely starve themselves to death. Any physician or veterinarian will tell us that a slow death by malnutrition is agonizing physically and mentally. The ASPCA frequently seizes dogs who are so emaciated, they can no longer even stand up. Even if food is present, the depressed dog (just like humans) has no will to live, and thus no will to eat. To save these dogs, ASPCA vets must insert feeding tubes. It’s not uncommon for the owners in these cases to be charged with felony animal cruelty for failing to seek veterinary care for their dog.

The first step in treating suicidal depression in dogs is to quickly take them into a new environment, like an ASPCA hospital, where they are treated with loving kindness and attention. Medical stabilization is done via feeding tubes and IV fluids. Often, with this type of care the dog’s depression will begin to lift enough for him to eat and drink on his own, gradually gaining weight, strength, and becoming playful.

In extreme cases, anti-depressant medication is warranted, usually Prozac in a dog-sized dose. Last year, the Eli Lilly Company, which manufactures Prozac, released a chewable anti-depressant for dogs onto the US market. Called “Reconcile,” this medication has a palatable beef flavor. Depressed dogs are maintained on this medication until all signs of depression are in full remission and the dogs have reached a normal weight, eating well on their own.

The key to preventing or treating canine suicidal depression is you!

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