What Pet Owners Need to Know About a Kidney Infection in Cats

Kidney infection in cats is a problem that can occur to any cat at any age. The term “kidney infection”, also known by the medical term “Pyelonephritis”, is sometimes mistakenly used to indicate any infection that involves the urinary tract. This means that some people use it to indicate an infection of the bladder, also known as cystitis. Below we will provide links to other types of urinary tract infections in cats that are more common than kidney infections.

Common Diseases of the Feline Urinary Tract

There are several types of urinary tract diseases that can affect cats. This article will focus on infections of the kidneys. Other types of urinary tract problems in cats include:

The cat’s urinary tract is a system made up of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. These organs work together to produce, transport, store and excrete urine. The urinary tract also rids the body of many fluid waste materials and products and has other vitally important functions, including controlling the volume and composition of the body fluids.

The kidneys are paired, bean-shaped organs. The indentation of the “bean” is called the hilus, which is the area where the blood vessels, nerves and ureters enter and leave the kidney. The structural and functional unit of the kidney is the nephron. There are hundreds of these microscopic filtering units, and each has the ability to form urine by itself. Each nephron consists of a circular ball-shaped cluster of small blood vessels called a glomerulus, and a small tube called a renal tubule. Nephrons are responsible for removing urea, which is combined with water and other waste products to produce urine.

Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney. We generally refer to pyelonephritis as a bacterial infection of upper urinary tract including any part of the kidney.

How Kidney Infections Happen

There are two ways cats can get a kidney infection. The first and most common way is from having a lower urinary tract infection (such as an infection of the bladder) that ascends to the kidneys. The other way is from an infection which is spread through the blood.

Signs of a Kidney Infection in Cats

Signs of a kidney infection in cats can vary from cat to cat. Signs may include:

  • Abdominal pain which can sometimes refer to the back or appear as back pain
  • Abnormal odor to the urine (foul odor)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Crying during urination (painful urination)
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination (can be more frequent urination or increased volume)
  • Lethargy or sleeping more
  • Straining to urinate
  • Vomiting

Infection of the kidneys can be life-threatening and lead to kidney failure. Prompt and thorough treatment is critical.

How Pet Insurance Helps Cover Serious Issues

How much will treatment cost for a cat with a kidney infection? The answer is that it depends on how sick your cat is, any co-existing conditions, the diagnostics and treatments that are recommended for your cat, and potentially your area in the country.

Very minor infections in cats could be treated with antibiotics on an outpatient basis. More severe infections may be treated in the hospital with intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, and medications to treat vomiting and other digestive issues.

This can range from $200 for simple outpatient care at your regular veterinarian to over $5,000 depending on if they do radiographs (X-rays), blood tests, urinalysis, urine cultures, hospitalize your cat with fluids, or more depending on the underlying cause and severity of your cat’s condition.

Pet insurance can help pay for these costs if you have a policy. Depending on your policy, they can pay 80%, 90%, or even 100% after the deductible. Have you looked into pet insurance yet? If you have not done so, take a minute now to see if pet insurance is right for you and your cat.

Pets Best pet insurance has been offering affordable, comprehensive pet health insurance to dogs and cats, and it gives you the protection you need to help keep your pet healthy. Check out Pets Best today and see if pet insurance is right for you and your family.

Reference Articles about Kidney Infections in Cats

Kidney Failure in Cats

Kidney failure in cats can be categorized into acute kidney failure and chronic kidney failure. Acute kidney failure is defined as an abrupt decline in kidney function and chronic kidney failure describes the gradual loss of kidney function. The term “renal: and “kidney” are used interchangeably. Some writers use acute kidney failure (AKF) while others write acute renal failure (ARF).

There is an important and sometimes a difficult differentiation between acute kidney failure and chronic. A new diagnosis can be mistaken for acute kidney failure because it is a new diagnosis when the disease has been present for some time.

Normally functioning kidneys filter excess fluids and wastes from the blood, which are excreted in your cat’s urine. As the kidney disease progresses and reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of electrolytes, wastes, and fluids can build up in your cat’s body. Changes that result from kidney failure can affect almost every system. Even with intensive treatment, renal failure in cats can be fatal.

We will address Acute Kidney Failure in cats in this article. For more information about chronic kidney disease, go to Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Cats.

What Causes Acute Kidney Failure in Cats?

There are multiple causes for acute kidney failure. The most common cause is from a urinary obstruction.

  • Urinary obstruction – Urinary obstruction is a type of reversible acute kidney failure that is treated by relieving the obstruction. This is one of the most common causes of acute kidney failure in cats. Learn more about Feline Urinary Obstruction.
  • Toxic injury to the kidneys – There are several toxins that can damage the kidneys.
  • Easter Lily ingestion is an important cause of acute kidney failure in cats. Prevent all access to this dangerous plant.
  • A very important toxin that can cause acute kidney failure in cats is ethylene glycol, which is the active ingredient of antifreeze. Antifreeze generally is sweet and tastes good. Very small amounts can be fatal.
  • Some antibiotics, such as a class of drugs known as aminoglycosides, can cause damage to the tubules of the kidney. Examples of aminoglycoside antibiotics are Amikacin and Gentamycin.
  • Other toxic causes of acute kidney failure in cats include toxicity heavy metals (such as lead or arsenic), contrast dyes used for certain X-ray procedures, and some anesthetics.
  • Decreased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the kidneys.
  • Low blood flow to the kidneys may occur during anesthesia and surgery, which can damage the kidneys.
  • Some drugs such as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents like ibuprofen may also cause ARF by reducing blood flow to certain parts of the kidneys.
  • Other causes of reduced blood flow to the kidneys include severe dehydration, shock, poor heart function, heat stroke, and overwhelming infection (sepsis).
  • Infections- Acute bacterial infection of the kidneys (called pyelonephritis) can cause acute kidney failure. What Pet Owners Need to Know About a Kidney Infection in Cats.
  • Uncommon causes – Uncommon causes of AKF in cats include:
  • Glomerulonephritis – acute inflammation of the microscopic filtering devices of the kidney called glomeruli.
  • Glomerular amyloidosis – deposition of an insoluble type of protein in the kidney.
  • Obstruction by blood clots of the arteries going to the kidneys.
  • Hemolytic-uremic syndrome – liver and kidney failure caused by a specific E. coli strain of bacteria.

Signs of Acute Kidney Failure in Cats

Cats are very good at hiding their illness, just by the nature of survival. Sometimes disease can be quite advanced by the time of diagnosis. Signs of acute kidney failure can vary from cat to cat and are often not specific. For example, decreased appetite, vomiting and weight loss are common symptoms associated with many different diseases including kidney failure.
Common signs of acute kidney failure in cats include:

  • Decreased appetite or loss of appetite
  • Disorientation
  • Incoordination
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Increased or decreased urinations – most often decreased urine production
  • Less engaged with family
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleeping more
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

What it Means For Your Cat if They Are Diagnosed With Acute Kidney Failure

If your cat is diagnosed with acute kidney failure, the most important thing to try to understand is why. Causes such as from a urinary obstruction or infection can be successfully treated. Causes such as toxins and blood flow or oxygen delivery abnormalities can be more difficult to treat and may be fatal even with the best care.

The most common causes of death during treatment of ARF are high blood potassium concentration, acid-base disturbances, very high concentrations of waste products in the blood that do not improve with fluid therapy and excessive administration of fluids with fluid accumulation in the lungs. If your cat is admitted to the veterinary hospital for treatment, they will address the above issues as part of their treatment.

Who’s At Risk for Acute Kidney Failure?

There is no specific breed predilection but older animals are thought to be at greater risk for acute kidney failure. Acute kidney failure in cats is also more common in cats that are outdoor or go outdoors due to their exposure to toxins including antifreeze. There is also an increase incidence of acute kidney failure in the fall and winter due to pet exposure to antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol.

Average Life Expectancy of Cats With Kidney Failure

The life expectancy of a cat with acute kidney failure will vary depending on the cause and response to treatment. For example cats that get acute kidney failure from a urinary obstruction can have a normal life expectancy with proper treatment.

Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of kidney function and is one of the most common diseases in cats that affects senior cats. It can affect all ages and breeds and is most common in cats over the age of 9 years and in Abyssinian and Persian breeds.
The term “renal” and “kidney” are used interchangeably. Some writers use the term chronic kidney failure (CKF) while others write chronic renal failure (CRF).

We will address Chronic Kidney Failure in cats in this article. For more information about acute kidney disease, go to Acute Renal (Kidney) Failure in Cats.

What Chronic Kidney Disease Is

The cat’s urinary tract is a system made up of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. A cat has two kidneys that sit in the abdomen. They are bean-shaped organs that contain hundreds of nephrons that are microscopic filtering units. These units have the ability to form urine.

When the kidneys function normally, they filter excess fluids and wastes from the blood. These wastes are then excreted in the cat’s urine. As the kidney disease progresses and reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of electrolytes, wastes, and fluids can build up in your cat’s body. Changes that result from kidney failure can affect almost every system.

How To Identify Symptoms In Your Cat

Signs of chronic kidney failure can vary from cat to cat and are often vague and can mimic the signs of other diseases. Common signs of chronic kidney failure in cats include:

  • Decreased appetite or loss of appetite
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Increased or decreased urination – most often decreased urine production
  • Less engaged with family
  • Lethargy or sleeping more
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and incoordination
  • Weight loss

Tests to Evaluate Kidney Function

Diagnostic tests to evaluate kidney function may include:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) may be within normal limits, but an elevated white blood cell count may be present if there is also secondary infection.
  • A biochemical profile may reveal elevations in kidney enzymes or electrolyte abnormalities.
  • A urinalysis may reveal diluted urine, blood, white blood cells, protein or bacteria in the urine.
  • Symmetric Dimethylarginine (SMDA) Blood Testing (INSERT LINK) is a test used to help diagnose early stages of renal failure.
  • A bacterial urine culture is performed to confirm a urinary tract infection.
  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) are an important part of any baseline work-up. Although they may be within normal limits, they may reveal changes in kidney size, urinary calculi, or help to rule out other diseases and causes of the cat’s clinical signs.
  • Abdominal ultrasound is recommended in most cases suspect of having kidney disease. It is helpful in evaluating the kidney and potentially differentiating between upper and lower urinary tract infection. It is a noninvasive procedure that often necessitates the expertise of a specialist and/or referral hospital.
  • Blood pressure is recommended for all cats with kidney disease.

How Pet Insurance Can Help You Cover Treatment

Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the progression of kidney damage, usually by controlling the underlying cause. Chronic kidney disease can progress to end-stage kidney failure, which is fatal without artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant which are uncommon treatments in cats.

The cost of care can vary depending on the severity of the disease in your cat. Some cats that show severe symptoms of illness will require hospitalization with intravenous fluids, medications to control nausea and vomiting, medications to stimulate the appetite, and other symptomatic treatment as needed.

Cost of care can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Because this condition is chronic, it requires ongoing care and monitoring. Some cats will have their bloodwork rechecked periodically and other symptomatic care such as subcutaneous (SQ) fluid therapy. Some cat owners routinely give SQ fluid therapy at home. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment, go to Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure in Cats.

Reference Articles about Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Kidney Disease in Cats: Everything Pet Owners Need to Know

Kidney disease in cats is one of the most common diseases that affect cats. The kidneys are part of the urinary tract. The cat’s urinary tract is a system made up of the kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder and urethra. These organs work together to produce, transport, store, and excrete urine. The main job of the urinary tract is to rid the cat’s body of waste materials and to control the volume and composition of the body fluids products. The term “renal” is another word for “kidney”.

A disease can strike any part of the urinary tract. For example, cancer can develop in the kidney, ureter, bladder or urethra. Some people mistake diseases of other parts of the urinary tract for kidney disease and vise versa. The symptoms of diseases of the kidney can be similar to other parts of the urinary tract. It is also possible to have more than one problem in the urinary tract such as an infection in both the bladder and kidneys. Below we will specifically focus on symptoms of kidney disease.

Signs of Kidney Disease in Cats

The signs of kidney disease in cats can vary depending on the type of disease affecting the kidney. Signs may include:

  • Abdominal distension
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Back pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Decreased urine production
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malodorous urinations
  • Nausea/Drooling
  • Oral ulcerations
  • Painful urination
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections
  • Straining to urinate
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Different Types of Kidney Disease in Cats

The kidneys can develop several different problems that include:

  • Kidney Cancer – Renal neoplasia is a relatively uncommon cancer located in the kidney. Renal neoplasia can originate in the kidney (primary) or spread to the kidney from another site (secondary). Most renal tumors are seen in middle-aged to older cats. Renal lymphoma is a type of cancer more common in cats that are feline leukemia virus positive. Generally, there are no specific causes for kidney cancer.
  • Kidney Stones – One function of the urinary system is the removal of body wastes in liquid form. Some mineral wastes are only slightly soluble and may form crystals. If the transit time of crystal movement through the urinary system is prolonged, crystals may interact and grow into stones. Several types of stones can affect cats. Each type of stone is often associated with its own specific cause. Nephrolithiasis, also known as renal calculi or kidney stones, can develop in cats.
  • Pyelonephritis – Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney. We generally refer to pyelonephritis as a bacterial infection of the upper urinary tract including any part of the kidney.
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases – This disease is caused by abnormal cyst formation in young cats. It is a slowly progressive, irreversible, inherited kidney disease. It is characterized by development of cysts in the kidney and sometimes also the pancreas, liver and/or uterus. Ultimately, PKD can result in renal failure, with clinical signs similar to those of cats with naturally occurring kidney failure.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats – Chronic renal failure, commonly referred to also as chronic kidney failure and abbreviated as CRF, is a common problem in cats. The digestion of food produces waste products, which are carried by blood to the kidneys to be filtered and excreted in the form of urine. When the kidneys fail, they are no longer able to remove these waste products, and toxins build up in the blood producing clinical signs of kidney disease. All breeds of any age can be affected. However, older cats are commonly affected as the prevalence increases with age.
  • Acute Kidney Failure in Cats – Acute kidney failure (acute renal failure or ARF) is characterized by an abrupt decline in kidney function that leads to changes in the chemistry of the body including alterations in fluid and mineral balance. The changes that arise as a result of ARF affect almost every body system. It can be caused by a urinary obstruction and various toxins including antifreeze.
  • Kidney Parasites– Renal parasites are worms that invade the urinary tract and cause disease. Some affected cats have no clinical signs, especially with Capillaria species. Some cats may be extremely ill if they have associated kidney failure or severe infection.
  • Renal (Kidney) Amyloidosis – This is a disease that results from the abnormal deposition of amyloid protein throughout the body. Amyloid results from the body’s inability to break down certain proteins in the body. This results in accumulation of amyloid outside body cells which builds up and injures normal cells.
  • Glomerulonephritis – This is a kidney disorder caused by inflammation of glomerulus which is the microscopic part of the kidney that filters the blood. It is usually caused by immune complexes (clusters of antibodies and antigens) that get deposited onto the glomeruli, causing them to malfunction. The immune complexes develop secondary to some other disease process that is going on in the cat’s body.
  • Untreated, glomerulonephritis can lead to chronic kidney failure.
  • Chronic obstructive uropathy (hydronephrosis) – This is a disease caused by obstruction (blockage) of the ureter (the tiny tubular structure that allows the passage of urine from the kidney to the urinary bladder) that results in distension (enlargement) of the pelvis (inside) of the kidney with urine. This can lead to renal failure.

Diagnosis of Kidney Disease in Cats

Diagnostic tests may be recommended on a case-by-case basis. Diagnosis of kidney disease in cats is often made by the following diagnostic tests:

  • Complete medical history
  • Complete physical examination
  • A biochemistry analysis (biochemical profile tests), such as serum creatinine and BUN concentrations are typically elevated with CRF.
  • Serum phosphorus and potassium concentrations may also be increased.
  • Complete blood count (Hemogram; CBC) may be performed to evaluate for signs of infection, inflammation, anemia or platelet abnormalities.
  • Urinalysis tests may show a low specific gravity, which is common with CRF, signs of infection, abnormal urine protein or sediment may indicate infection or glomerular disease or parasites.
  • Urine culture should be performed to evaluate for the presence of upper or lower urinary tract infection.
  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) may show small kidney size, which is common with CRF, but normal renal size does not rule out CRF.
  • Some chronic kidney diseases in cats can be associated with enlarged kidneys (e.g. polycystic renal disease, renal lymphoma).
  • Renal ultrasonography – can provide additional information about the kidneys. Kidneys with chronic disease are typically small and sometimes irregularly shaped. Large kidneys may indicate polycystic renal disease, cancer or an acute kidney disease. Some cats can have a normal ultrasound with CRF.
  • Urine protein/creatinine ratio – this is useful to evaluate urinary protein loss in cats suspected to have glomerular disease.
  • Arterial blood pressure may be needed to determine the presence of complicating hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Excretory urography may be useful in the evaluation of abnormalities in renal size, shape or location. It may also be valuable in the detection of obstruction, cancer or stones.
  • Blood gas analysis will allow evaluation of acid-base levels.
  • Leptospira antibody serologic tests may be needed to diagnose this infection.
  • A fine needle aspiration (biopsy) of the kidney may be useful in some cats with renal diseases (e.g. kidney lymphoma, granulomatous interstitial nephritis due to FIP).
  • Endogenous or exogenous creatinine clearance can be used to measure glomerular filtration rate in CATS with normal blood work who are suspected to have renal disease.
  • Fractional excretion of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, and phosphorus) may be useful in evaluation of animals with suspected renal tubular disorders.
  • Radioisotope clearances may be used to determine kidney filtration and blood flow.
  • Symmetric Dimethylarginine (SMDA) Blood Testing – SMDA is a test to look for a blood protein that is known to increase as kidney function declines. It will start to increase before the blood creatinine.

Reference Articles about Kidney Disease in Cats:

What is Puppy Depression (the Kind People Get)?

Do puppies get depressed? The answer is they can. Probably. But that isn’t what “Puppy Depression” is about when you search on Google.There are two types of puppy depression.

  • The Puppy is Depressed. The first type is when a puppy has symptoms of depression. Maybe they withdraw from family activities. They don’t spend time with their owners. They sleep more. They don’t eat, eat less or overeat. Learn more about this type of puppy depression.
  • The Owner is Depressed. The most common use of the term puppy depression isn’t about the puppy being depressed. The puppy is perfectly fine. Probably home tearing up the house and maybe having an “accident” or two. This type of “puppy depression” is about the owner being depressed from having the puppy.

Below we will address the type of puppy depression that affects people.

What is Puppy Depression?

Puppy depression, also known as the “Puppy Blues”, is a syndrome of depression that can occur to humans after acquiring a puppy. Some behaviorists create parallels from puppy depression to “postpartum depression.

Puppy depression can be a normal response from a substantial change in lifestyle. Some pet owners go from a relaxed routine with a clean home to a home that has been turned upside down. This is most common in homes that did not previously have a dog or in homes where there are adult dogs with a well-established routine.

One big reason puppy depression occurs is from loss. How, may you ask, does getting a puppy have to do with loss? Getting a new puppy can be an amazing time but it can also turn a person’s life upside down. They can cause the following:

  • Loss of sleep – by waking them up throughout the night
  • Loss of property – some puppies will tear up and destroy things
  • Loss of freedom – no more meeting friends for drinks or dinner after work. You need to get home to take your puppy out
  • Loss of time – time spent training, cleaning up after the new puppy, training classes, going to the vet, going on walks, etc.
  • Loss of money – having a puppy can be expensive. It is not uncommon for a puppy owner to spend over $1000 on a puppy without thinking about the fact that the puppy also needs vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks until it is 20 weeks old, spayed or neutered, microchipped, dewormed, fecal checks, heartworm prevention, or flea and tick control. This doesn’t even consider what if the puppy gets sick. You could be looking at vet bills for thousands of dollars. By the way – when you have a new puppy – this is the perfect time to consider pet insurance. Let them help you pay for the vaccines, surgery but also be there if you have a problem.
  • Overwhelmed with new responsibilities – getting a new puppy can be somewhat similar to having a new baby. You need to train, walk, feed, deal with accidents, be woken up at night and for some puppy owners develop a routine that they never had before.

For some new dog owners, especially puppy owners, it truly changes their lives.

How Long Does Puppy Depression Last?

Puppy depression can last from weeks to months depending on the puppy and the owner. Sometime it will last until some of the more difficult behavioral issues like housebreaking and chewing have resolved or improved.

Puppy Depression in People: Signs To Look For

Signs of puppy depression in people can manifest as frustration, annoyance, depression and can even escalate to the point where they relinquish their puppies.

A recent study suggests that dogs under the age of 1 year have been rehomed 3 to 4 times before they find their “forever home”. Some new puppy owners suddenly realize that they don’t have the time, their apartment is too small, they can’t afford the cost of care, and many more reasons.

How do You Treat Puppy Depression?

There is help. First and ideally, research the breed you are to adopt. This can help give you some guidelines on the care they will need. For example, Border Collies are amazing dogs but they need a job. They need to stay busy. If you give them the right opportunities, they will be very happy dogs. You put a Border Collie in an apartment where they are cooped up for 16 hours a day, they are likely not going to be a happy dog.

If you already have your puppy, it is important to know what a puppy can do physically and what a puppy can’t do. For example, an 8-week-old puppy can only hold his urine for 3 hours. A 12-week-old puppy can only hold his urine for 5 hours. If you leave a puppy that is 8 weeks for 8 hours – he is going to have an accident. Understanding what a puppy can and can’t do at each age is critical to understanding your puppy and avoiding problems.

How Does Dog Depression Treatment Work?

Depression in dogs can be difficult to diagnose but it is believed that dogs do suffer from depression. Depression can lead to weight loss or gain, lethargy, and multiple behavioral problems. For more information about the symptoms of depression in dogs, go to What are Dog Depression Symptoms?

How Dog Depression is Treated

There are many ways to treat depression in dogs. You can categorize most treatments as being either pharmaceutical (using drugs) or non-pharamceutic (natural or not using drugs).

Before you decide on a treatment, it is important to understand why your dog is depressed. Learn more about the causes of depression with this article Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it. It is also important to consider your dog’s daily schedule, reasons why your dog might be depressed, evaluate what you are willing to do to help your dog, understand your dog’s overall physical health, consider your dog’s personality, and determine what your dog really likes to do.

Some natural things you can do to help dog depression can include maintaining a routine, providing consistency in training and rewards, spending time playing, interacting, and exercising your dog. Considering the benefits of getting another dog could be a good option depending on your dog’s personality.

There are drugs that can be used to treat dog depression. Many are the same drugs used in human medicine to treat depression.

Behavioral disorders in dogs are frequently the reason for veterinary visits. The focus of treatment should ideally be placed on training and behavior. However there are specialists working in the field of animal behavior that have increasingly adopted drugs employed in human behavior modification for use in domestic animals. Please discuss the use of any drug with your vet.

Pharmacological treatments for depression in dogs can include drugs such as:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac®) – Fluoxetine, also known by the brand name Prozac®, is currently one of the most commonly prescribed human drugs in the United States. It is use for the treatment of human depression, bulimia, anorexia nervosa (an eating disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder, some sleep disorders (cataplexy, narcolepsy), panic disorders and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Prozac® works by altering chemicals (serotonin) in the brain that may become unbalanced and lead to depression and other behavioral abnormalities. There are several brand names of Fluoxetine including: Prozac, Prozac Weekly, Sarafem, Rapiflux, Selfemra, Prozac Pulvules, and Reconcile. Reconcile is the product made specifically for canine patients.
  • Paroxetine (Paxil®) – Paxil®, Paxil CR® and Pexeva®, also known by the generic name “Paroxetine”, is a drug commonly used for the treatment of human depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive symptoms, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Paxil® is categorized as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which work by altering chemicals (serotonin) in the brain that may become unbalanced that leads to depression.
  • Sertraline (Zoloft®) – Zoloft® is another drug that works by altering chemicals (serotonin) in the brain that may become unbalanced and lead to symptoms. Zoloft® and Lustral®, also known by the generic name “Sertraline”, are drugs commonly used for the treatment of human depression. This is one of the most commonly prescribed human drugs in the United States. In dogs, sertraline is used to treat various behavioral problems including aggression, fear-based behaviors (such as storm phobia/noise phobias), anxiety-based behaviors (such as separation anxiety) and compulsive disorders (such as acral lick dermatitis/lick granuloma and compulsive tail chasing).
  • Clomipramine (Clomicalm®)- Clomipramine, also known by the brand names of Clomicalm® and Anafranil®, is approved for the treatment of canine behavioral disorders classified as separation anxiety. It has also been used to modify owner-directed dominance aggression in dogs. Some veterinarians have used this drug for depression.
  • Amitriptyline (Elavil®)- Amitriptyline HCl, commonly known by the brand name Elavil®, is commonly used for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs as well as excessive grooming and occasionally depression.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax or Niravam) – Alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax®, is used for dogs as an alleviant of anxiety and as a muscle relaxant. It is commonly used in dogs for storm phobias and has been occasionally used for treatment of depression.
  • Trazodone (Desyrel)- Trazodone HCl, also known simply as Trazodone and by the brand names of Oleptro® and Desyrel®, is used in dog with behavioral problems or various anxiety related problems including fears and anxiety related to veterinary visits and hospitalization.

Once you start your dog on drug therapy, it is important to understand that this will be a lengthy process (months). These are not drugs that you just start and stop. Side effects can occur and the drug may be stopped or reduced until side effects abate and lower doses attempted. Do not stop or start any medication without the guidance of your veterinarian.

How to Know What Option is Best For Your Depressed Dog

Natural treatments work best. The treatment that is going to work best for your dog will depend on your dog. What may work great for one dog may not work at all for another dog. The very best treatment is to identify what is causing the depression and create solutions to make it better. You can start with the natural treatments and move to drug therapy if that doesn’t work.

How to Know if Treatment Is Working

It can take weeks of consistent changes for some dogs to get out of their depressed funk. Improvement may come slow but is often a gradual change. The best way to know if the treatment is working is to see positive changes in your dog such they are more engaged with you and your family and doing things they like to do such as eat and play.

Articles Related to Dog Depression

Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it
Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup
What are Dog Depression Symptoms?
What is Puppy Depression (the kind People Get)?
Dogs that Lick Themselves – Understanding Acral Lick Dermatitis
Our Stress, Depression, Joy…Can Dogs Tell?
Not Feline Fine: Dealing with Feline Depression
Does Your Dog Need Anxiety Medication?

What are Dog Depression Symptoms?

Many dog lovers may wonder about dog depression and potential dog depression symptoms. There is a lot of news coverage and information about human depression, so if people get depression, why can’t dogs? In this article, we will look at the topic of dog depression and review dog depression symptoms.

Depression in dogs is much harder to define or document than it is in humans. After all, grief and sadness are normal human emotions but not emotions we commonly recognize in dogs. What can make understanding depression in dogs even more difficult is the fact that every dog can respond differently to any given situation.

Common Dog Depression Symptoms

The symptoms of depression can vary not only between dogs, but also between breeds and breed lines. Even dogs from the same litter can respond differently just as children from the same family can respond differently to a situation or stressor.

Signs of depression in dogs may include:

  • Withdrawn and less social – One of the most common symptoms of depression in dogs is withdrawal. This is a very common symptom of depression in people as well. Many people with depression will prefer to stay home and generally avoid interaction with friends and family members. An example of dog depression can be a dog that is less interactive or less engaged with the family. Some pet owners notice that their dog doesn’t greet them at the door or doesn’t sit in the same room with the family when they are watching television.
    Mike wrote, “My beagle “Rusty” started hiding in the laundry room after I retired. Rusty used to go to work with me every day and when my routine changed, he started hiding and not participating in family activities. For example, Rusty would normally be in the same room when I watched TV and he stopped. He just didn’t want to interact with the family as much.
  • Loss of interest – Some dogs that are depressed will lose interest in doing the things you know they love to do. It may be not playing with their favorite toy or that they don’t want to go for walks, or they don’t do their normal strut around the yard to smell everything.
  • Appetite changes – Some dogs with depression will have a decreased appetite or will quit eating altogether. Other dogs with depression will eat more as a way to comfort themselves.
  • Changes in weight – Weight loss or weight gain can be the result of the appetite changes. Dogs that eat more calories, will gain weight. Dogs that eat less will lose weight. Activity changes and sleep patterns will also impact weight gain and loss.
  • Changes in sleep patterns – Depressed dogs may sleep more and this can be seen with the less social behavior or by itself. Some dogs will increase their sleep by 10% to 40% or even more in some cases. On the other hand, some dogs will sleep less and become “restless”.
  • Anxiety – Some dogs with depression will appear more nervous. They will startle more at loud noises, seem frightened when company comes, and may be more restless in general. John D. wrote to me, “When I moved across the country, my dog Gus became anxious. He used to sleep through the night and all of a sudden he would be up pacing. He would bark at noises that never used to bother him.”
  • Behavior changes – Some dogs will change their routines. For example, some dogs will not sleep on the bed with their owners or in their favorite bed although they have done that for years. Alexandra wrote, “When I lost my job, my Jack Russell terrier that always slept in his bed on the sofa in the living room. He did this for years. Then all of a sudden she was wanting to sleep on the bed”. Sharon S. wrote, “When my husband died, our Beagle ‘Franny’ would pace back and forth. She would sit by the door as though she was looking for him to come home then pace some more. She seemed as though she couldn’t get comfortable or relax.
  • Loss of housebreaking behavior – Some dogs with depression may revert to earlier behavior and start having accidents in the house.
  • Self-mutilation behaviors – Some dogs may begin chewing or licking themselves. Some dogs will lick areas on their bodies such as their legs or paws as a soothing behavior. Some behaviorists believe self-licking behavior, also known Acral Lick Dermatitis, arises out of the confusion as a displacement activity. The self-licking behavior that can stem from depression can become ritualistic and compulsive.
  • Vocalization – Some dogs with depression will start a new behavior of barking or howling.
  • Aggressive behavior – A small minority of dogs with depression can exhibit aggressive behaviors such as growling, snapping, biting or fighting with other dogs.

Symptoms That Show if the Depression is Severe

All the above are serious symptoms however the dog depression symptoms that impact the health of your dog or have the potential to cause injury to you or other dogs are most important.

Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup

At some point in a dog’s life, owners may ask the question, “Is my dog depressed?” After all, how do you really know? This is a time both veterinarians and pet owners truly wish their dogs could talk. We will focus this article on what you can do at home to help your depressed dog.

Signs That Your Dog is Depressed

There are many signs of depression in dogs. Symptoms of depression in dogs can vary from dog to dog. Signs may include withdrawing from family activities, playing less, and eating either more or less. Learn more about the symptoms of depression in dogs with this article: What are Dog Depression Symptoms?

It is very difficult to make generalizations as to how a certain breed, dogs within the same breed, breed line or even litter will behave.

Is My Dog Depressed? 6 Points to Consider as You Develop a Plan

If you have a dog that you believe is depressed, there are multiple options to help. Before taking action, consider his lifestyle, capabilities, and personality, and what really drives him.

Here are some important points to consider before developing a plan to help your dog:

  1. A Day in the Life. As you consider solutions, consider what your dog’s day is like. Is he in a crate for hours? Does he get daily exercise? Is he fed at the same time every day? Does he get petted? Does he feel loved? Is there consistency in what is expected from everyone in the household? Is your dog mentally stimulated or bored? Does your dog get to play with other dogs?
  2. Consider…”Why Your Dog is Depressed?” When developing a plan to help your dog it is important to look at the reason or reasons why you think your dog is depressed. Is your dog in a new home? Did someone close to your dog die? Did another dog in the home die? Did a child leave for college or start school? Was there a divorce? What changed in your dog’s environment? It is important to look at the underlying cause as you consider the treatment that will work best. Learn more about the common causes of canine depression. Go to Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it.
  3. Evaluate Your Capabilities. Evaluate your time, environment, budget, and capabilities. If you believe your dog needs more play time and you live in a small apartment in the city, or you work long hours, a dog walker or doggy daycare may be a great way to provide more stimulation for your dog.
  4. Evaluate Your Dog’s Health. When considering a strategy to help your dog, consider your dog’s health. Does your dog have underlying health issues such as congestive heart failure or arthritis? Are there health problems that may impact your play or exercise plan for stimulation? For example, if your dog is a senior with health problems, going for a big run daily at the dog park is not going to be a good solution. Smaller frequent walks or intellectual toys may be a good option. Consider a plan that works for your dog’s functionality and abilities.
  5. Look at What Your Dog Likes. Does your dog like to chew on bones? Does your dog like to chase Frisbee? Look at your dog’s age, breed, and interests to consider what will give him the most stimulation and enjoyment. Or does your dog enjoy puzzle toys where they have to figure out how to get the treat out? Some dogs love to be brushed and groomed and others do not. For example, if you have a small dog that doesn’t fetch, more time at the dog park playing “ball” is not going to work. Consider what your dog likes and develop a plan to give him more time doing the things he enjoys the most.
  6. Personality Issues. Some dogs are more people-dogs (meaning they like people more than dogs), some are more dog-dogs (they enjoy other dogs more than people), and others dogs enjoy being with people and other dogs equally. This is important to consider as you evaluate what will work best to help your dog. For example, if your dog gets in fights with other dogs, then going to the dog park or signing him up for doggy daycare with other dogs is not going to be a good idea if you are trying to get more play time with your dog. On the other hand, if your dog seems happiest when playing with other dogs, then that may be the magic ticket.

Is My Dog Depressed? Tips to Help Your Dog

Below are things you can do at home to help a depressed dog. Based on the above things to consider, review the tips below to see what might work best for your dog.

  • Keep a Routine – Some dogs that are depressed have had a change in their lives. Someone dies, leaves, or maybe it is an entirely new home. If possible, keep your dog’s routine as consistent as possible. For example, if your dog has always gone for a morning walk and suddenly you went back to work and can’t do this, consider having a neighbor take him on that walk. If you move to a new house, things can definitely be in chaos. Keep as much of your dog’s routine the same. Feed the same food at the same time, etc. as much as you can.
  • Keep Some Things the Same – If your dog is rehomed, keep as much the same a possible from his previous home. A client recently adopted his mom’s dog when his mom died. We discussed a plan to create the best transition which included using the dog’s own familiar bed, collar, leash, kennel, blankets, food, and bowls. After the dog is acclimated to the new home, you can then gradually change some things little by little. This may not always be possible but when it possible, it can be helpful.
  • Play – One of the best things for depression is playtime. Some depressed dogs are bored and just under stimulated. If your dog is healthy, engage your dog in play. Buy some toys. Learn more about “What is your dogs play preference” to help you choose the best toys for him.
  • Exercise – A tired dog is often a happy dog. Just like kids, many dogs need to stretch their legs and run until they wear themselves out! If your dog is healthy, increasing your dog’s exercise routine can be helpful in treating dog depression.
  • Spend Time – Some of the happiest times dogs spend with their owner is just being together. This can be watching TV, being petted, belly rubes, or just sitting together while you read a book.
  • Talk to Your Dog – Some dogs enjoy it when you talk to them. Things as simple as talking to your dog in that voice that makes your dog wag his tail and feel special is enough to make him happy and can help with dog depression.
  • Predictable Feeding Schedule – Some dogs are food motivated. They want to know when their next meal is coming. Providing a predictable feeding schedule can allow some dogs to feel more comfortable and less depressed.
  • Clear Communication – Having a clear set of guidelines for your dog that is consistent across all members of the family is important for dogs to understand what is expected of them. Inconsistency can be stressful and cause depression. For example, if some members of the family allow the dog to get up on the sofa when they are watching television and another member does not, this produces conflict. Another example is someone in the home that encourages their dog to jump up on them and others reprimanded them for the same. Try to be consistent so your dog knows what is expected from them.
  • Consider a Playmate – Getting another dog is a great solution for dog depression for some dogs. Other dogs might hate the idea of another dog but some dogs truly love it. If you don’t want to commit to a full adoption, consider talking to your local rescue group and foster a dog. This allows you to see how your dog responds to a new dog and determine if it helps with his depression before making that full adoption commitment. Learn more about How to Introduce a New Dog.

In some ways, treatment of canine depression is really about lifestyle optimization. It is providing the optimal exercise opportunities, predictable feeding schedules, clear communication of expectations, and play time.

Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat it

Depression is common in humans and dog depression may be just as common. How common is depression? According to Healthline, it is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The CDC documents that approximately 9% of Americans report they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4% suffer from “major depression.” Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year. The definition of major depression in humans is “a mental health condition marked by an overwhelming feeling of sadness, isolation and despair that affects how a person thinks, feels and functions.

Dog depression may be just as common but is harder to recognize.

How to Spot Signs of Dog Depression

Just as with people, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person that loses their job may become depressed while another person may see opportunity and be relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, less interactive, guarded, scared, nervous, aggressive, stop eating, or have a decreased appetite while another dog may be euphoric. Learn more about how to recognize depression in your dog. Go to: What are Dog Depression Symptoms?

What Causes Dog Depression

What causes depression in one dog can be entirely different than in another dog. Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress or what will make a person depressed, it is difficult to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common things associated with dog depression are the following:

  • Illness. Dogs that are sick and don’t feel good may be depressed.
  • Loss of mobility. Just as illness can cause depression, loss of mobility can also cause depression in some dogs. For a previously active dog to not be able to run, play, walk, and exercise can really take an emotional toll on some dogs. This can be caused from a back injury, trauma such as a fracture, or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.
  • Loss of routine. Some dogs can become very depressed from a change in their routine. This can occur from when the kids go back to school, an owner loses a job or takes on a new job, or a change in work hours that leads to disruption in the dog’s day-to-day rituals.
  • Loss of an owner or caregiver. A very common cause of depression in dogs is the loss of someone close to them. The loss can be death or from someone moving out or leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone moving from a divorce can all create a profound sense of loss and void in a dog’s life.
  • Loss of a housemate. Just as the loss of a caregiver can impact dogs, so can the loss of another pet in the home. Most commonly the pet is another dog but could also be a cat or other species. When you think about it, if a dog’s routine is to see the other pet, eat with it, walk, play and they suddenly aren’t there, they can become depressed. It is important to note that a change in your dog’s behavior can be from their depression or can be them responding to your sadness. If you are mourning the loss of a dog and depressed yourselves, this can affect them.
  • Moving. Moving can be stressful for us but also for our dogs. They suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in the routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, unpacking, etc. can all impact the daily walks and time spent with you. This can cause depression in some dogs.
  • Rehoming. A new home and family can be exciting to some dogs but depressing to others. They may miss something from their prior life or feel displaced. On top of that they are trying to understand the new owners, new rules in the house, new routine, getting new food, new bowls, and well…new everything, which can be stressful. Stress can cause depression.
  • New Pet or Person. Just as pet loss or human loss can cause depression, some dogs will become depressed when a new pet or person enters their life. This can impact their routine and day-to-day lifestyle. The new pet may take attention away from them.

What You Can Do for Dog Depression

Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best recommendation to treat dog depression is to do the following:

  1. Figure out why. The best thing to do is to consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life must be like on a day-to-day basis. Is there lots of stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Attention? Or is it boring? Is he ignored? Even tied to a dog house or in a crate for hours?
  2. Optimize your dog’s life. Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, predictable meal schedules, belly rubs, and plenty of assurance that they are the best dog in the whole world. Here are some tips on how to help your dog. Go to: Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup
  3. See your vet. Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness. They can seem similar and it can be hard to tell. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.
  4. Natural remedies. Some natural remedies that can help some dogs with depression include Bach flower, Ignatia, Spirit Essences Grouch
  5. Remedy, Green Hope Farm Grief, and Loss Remedy. Check with your veterinarian and see if they have a product that has worked well for them.
  6. Drugs. As a very last resort, you could work with your veterinarian to try pharmacological treatment for your dog’s depression. Most dogs respond to playtime, exercise, and quality time with you. To learn more about possible drug therapies, go to: How Does Dog Depression Treatment Work?
  7. Give it time. It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. Give it some time. Most times they will come around and return to their normal dog selves.

Articles Related to Dog Depression

Is My Dog Depressed? How to Help Your Pup 
What are Dog Depression Symptoms?
How Does Dog Depression Treatment Work?
What is Puppy Depression (the kind People Get)?
Dogs that Lick Themselves – Understanding Acral Lick Dermatitis
Our Stress, Depression, Joy…Can Dogs Tell?
Not Feline Fine: Dealing with Feline Depression
Does Your Dog Need Anxiety Medication?

What to Expect After Neutering a Dog

Dog owners often have questions about dog neutering and what to expect after neutering a dog. First, let’s define the words Neuter and Spay. Neuter, from the Latin word neuter, means the removal of an animal’s reproductive organ. The term neuter is often used incorrectly when it is used to refer to male animals when the term neuter correctly refers to both males and females. The correct term for males is “Castration” while the correct term used for females is “Spay” or “Spaying”.

For this purpose of this article, we will refer to neutering in regards to the male dog. For details about how to prepare for neutering and what happens the day of neutering – please read: What Happens When You Neuter a Dog? If you have a female dog, learn more about What Happens When a Dog Gets Spayed.

For those of that are still planning your dog neuter, this article may help you understand the cost and why the cost can vary. Go to: How Much Does Dog Spaying or Dog Neutering Cost?

The risks associated with castration in a healthy young dog is very low. While there are no published statistics, it is estimated that the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding, post-operative infection, and wound breakdown over the incision. Overall the complication rate is very low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.

How Your Dog Will Start Recovery After Being Neutered

Most dogs are released the same day or occasionally the day following surgery. After being neutered, your dog may feel tired or groggy. He may want to sleep more for the first day or two. Occasionally, some dogs may feel nauseated and not eat his full meal or on rare occasions even vomit. Generally, young dogs begin to act normally within 24 to 48 hours.

Additional recommendations for care post neuter surgery include:

  • Post-operative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate.
  • Keep your dog quiet for approximately two weeks after he returns home from the hospital to allow him to heal. Some dogs may be prescribed sedative medications to help keep him calm.
  • Two commonly prescribed medications include Acepromazine and Trazodone.
  • Do not allow him to be excessively active and prevent him from “rough-housing.”
  • Skin sutures, if present, will be removed in 10 to 14 days. Most often the sutures are absorbable. Many veterinarians may want to check the incision one-week post-surgery to ensure he is healing normally.
  • If the castration was performed for reasons other than to prevent reproduction, further treatment and/or monitoring may be necessary.
  • You should inspect the incision line daily for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain.
  • Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the incision. If your pet licks the incision line, prevent your pet from licking by placing an e-collar.

Other Changes: What to Expect After Neutering a Dog

You may notice that your dog is calmer and more relaxed. Neutered dogs no longer have the intense drive to mate, roam, and seek out females. This change is not immediate as it may take weeks after castration for the hormones to gradually dissipate from their system. Other changes you may expect after neutering is that dogs will roam less, stay closer to home, do less urine marking, fight less, be less hyper, and become more affectionate and gentle. Some pets may gain weight after neutering and as they get older. Cutting back on food intake or increasing your pet’s activity will help reduce weight gain.

What You Should Plan On, How To Notice If Something Is Wrong

The best way to determine if something is wrong is to monitor your dog’s incision. If you notice any redness, swelling or discharge from the incision, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

If our dog is lethargic, won’t eat, has vomited more than once, diarrhea, or you have any other concerns, please call your veterinarian.

How Your Pet Insurance Can Help

Clients often ask for suggestions to help with dog neuter costs. There are low-cost neuter clinics available in most areas. Learn more about the pros and cons with this article: Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics vs. Your Local Vet.

If you haven’t scheduled the procedure yet, there are pet insurance policies that will help pay for “wellness” costs which include the neuter procedure. If your dog already had the neuter procedure, pet insurance can help you pay for other wellness costs such as vaccinations, deworming, dental cleanings, and parasite prevention. In addition to wellness care coverage, the main benefit to pet insurance is how they can help pay for up to 90% of unexpected of your veterinary bills. Learn more from Pets Best here.