Dogs are sensitive beings.
Even those who are not fond of dog hair inside their homes, admit that as living beings, dogs can feel pain and happiness.
One look at that wagging tail should be enough to tell the world that underneath that fur there is a living person with feelings. On the other hand, dog owners or those who had some extended time with dogs, know that some dogs may suffer from loneliness and neglect so much that it can lead to strong anxiety.
Some breeds are more prone to loneliness than others, such as Maltese or Pomeranian.
As companions and lapdogs, they are used to spending their time (usually an entire day) with their people.
Opposite to them are more independent breeds such as Australian Shepherd or German Shepherd who love when there are people around them, but also love when there is a job to be done.
Since dogs can feel, they will collect energy (both happy and sad) from their surroundings.
In other words, if left alone for too long or too frequently, they will either develop separation anxiety or they will become bored and eventually destructive. This is something that is more linked with external factors and the solution is usually straightforward: dogs should never be left alone, training should be conducted, and a professionals dog trainer can usually help in most cases.
This is something that is more linked with the owners and theoretical treatment of the dog.
Of course, there are some exceptions, but in most cases, dogs prone to separation anxiety tend to develop this condition because they spend an expected amount of time alone.
This leads us to questions – can dogs feel sad because of something that comes within them?
So far, it’s known that some dogs may suffer from neurosis, but can they experience more intense conditions that are often seen in people, such as bipolar disorder?
Can A Dog Become Bipolar?
In a way, yes. Dogs can have a certain type of bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses that can heavily affect their lifestyle.
If this condition goes undiagnosed and slips without providing the right treatment, dogs can suffer tremendously.
Dogs can not only experience bipolar disorder, but they can suffer from other health issues that can be seen in people, such as previously mentioned anxiety, PTSD, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How can experts know that dogs are bipolar?
In most cases, dog experts will tell you that a dog who is bipolar won’t display strong grumpiness and agressivensss that should mirror the manic highs and strong lows that are seen in people with bipolar disorder.
Signs That Can Be Defined As Bipolar In Dogs
Dog and veterinarian experts tend to share that dogs show and switch their emotions as a reaction to a certain situation, and an external factor.
Since bipolar disorder is a biochemical disorder and dogs do not have this kind of biochemical response which can make them switch moods from high to low swings.
Now, you may be sure that your dog is bipolar due to signs that he may pick up.
For example, your dog may be acting all normal, and all of a sudden he may become grumpy or even aggressive. This doesn’t mean that your dog has bipolar, but it can be an indicator of some other issues.
In most cases, these symptoms are clear indicators that something is wrong with your dog and Fido is in some sort of pain.
In some cases, these symptoms may appear when your dog is unhappy due to some external factors, such as moving to a new home or adjusting to a new lifestyle if a baby arrived, or if you brought a new dog into your home.
It’s important not to panic immediately as soon as you notice something unusual.
Just like humans, dogs may have days when they are more energized or days when they are more in chill moods.
For example, if your Fido plays in the backyard with another dog, and two hours later he seems a bit down, it may be a sign that he is just tired and sad that his buddy went back to his place.
On the other hand, if you’re walking down the street, and your dog becomes aggressive all of sudden when seeing another dog, it may be a sign that he is experiencing some sort of switched behavior, which can be defined as bipolarity.
Dogs are masters of body language. Since they cannot talk ‘human language’, dogs had to evolve. They evolved in such a manner that they are using their body easily to communicate with people.
By just using their bodies, dogs can tell people when they are happy (tail wagging) when they are scared (tucked tail), or when they are in pain (spending hours in the corner with curls entire body).
This is why it’s important to know the major body language signs and to know how your dog acts when in a normal state.
Certain body language signs that your dog may display are usually reactions to some factor.
Some of the body signs that may show that your dog’s behavior changes are:
- Withdrawing his ears back
- Baring his teeth
- Acting aggressive suddenly
- Laying down with no energy for a long time
- Trying to get your attention
The biggest issue with ‘catching’ these symptoms is that they can be indicators of different issues and situations, like when they are scared, or when they encounter a stranger.
It can also be a sign of injury or a condition that is causing the dog pain.
It’s important to note that some dogs can suffer from neurosis and in some cases, the issues could be behavioral.
Here are some of the symptoms that may be seen in dogs that can mimic bipolar behavior:
- Sudden and harsh mood swings
- Aggressive behavior
- Acting fearful
- Becoming withdrawn
- Being aloof
- Acting disinterested no matter what you do
People are familiar with bipolar disorder nowadays.
In recent decades the awareness of this condition is on the rise and experts are doing their best to help people manage this disorder.
Did you know that the first record of bipolar disorder dates back to the 19th century, making this disorder a relatively new discovery?
The discovery of this disorder was first presented in Paris when two medics explained their view on a strong genetic link.
From that moment on the experts continued researching this disorder and it was until the 1960s that a specific distinction was made for people who experienced both extreme highs and lows of the same disorder.
There are no hard facts on whether dogs really experience bipolar disorder like humans do, despite their mood changes.
According to veterinarian experts mood swing in dogs is a biochemical imbalance that can lead to mood changes, that are described as extremes.
Over the years, mood changes in dogs are more linked to many external factors, such as environmental factors and similar conditions. This is what affects owners’ belief that their dog suffers from bipolar disorder, while in most cases another factor is causing the issue.
So far, it’s obvious that bipolarity in dogs is more of a polarity switch. The biochemical change that occurs in humans is not the same as it is in dogs.
Dogs react more to environmental changes and different situations.
Dogs are also capable of catching your feelings and reacting when you feel sad or anyhow stressed. Dogs are masters of body language and if you move stressed they will catch that, and reflect your emotion.
They can also sense your feelings through your tone, actions, and various expression. All in all, how dogs act is a mix of instincts and behavior.
Is There Medication For Bipolar Dogs?
If you want to help your dog with his sudden changes, you should consult a dog behaviorist and your veterinarian to see what your next move should be.
You may expect to hear that your dog needs a proper dog medication, that is often used for anxious dogs, such as Prozac and Zoloft.
How To Know If My Dog Has Mental Issues?
To know if your dog has any kind of mental issues, you need to know his regular behavior.
This means that you should know your dog acts on a daily level and what keeps him active and engaged.
Whenever your dog exhibits some sort of behavioral problem you should know that something is wrong.
In most cases, behavioral changes are a reflection of some sort of stress like changing routine or are an indicator of underlying health issues.
In most cases, dogs will mental issues may express strong aggression, long and excessive barking, or even destructive behavior. Although these behaviors can be linked with many health or behavioral issues, you shouldn’t ignore them.
If left neglected, these behaviors may disrupt your dog’s life and yours as well.
In some cases, these behaviors can even be dangerous.
In most cases, you will need veterinarian help to help you get over these issues, or you may hire an expert in dog behavior or training.
Can Dogs Have Other Mental Illness?
Any dog can suffer from some form of mental health issues. Seeing these issues in your dog may be heartbreaking, but isn’t something that should be ignored.
Mental health issues usually appear in dogs who have been neglected in some way, mistreated, or abused.
These issues are often seen in dogs who lived on the street or spend too much time being alone in dog shelters.
Should A Bipolar Person Own A Dog?
People who live with bipolar disorder have many challenges that they have to overcome on a daily level.
Still, many of them can participate in pet therapy programs, which are animal-assisted therapy. This type of therapy is often recommended for people with bipolar disorder. Moreover, this type of therapy is often recommended to people with other mood disorders.
Various research claims that pet assistance in any form offers a certain level of comfort to people with various mental needs.
Can Dogs Sense Bipolar Disorder?
Humans and dogs are used to working next to each other.
From day one dog were bred to perform different tasks. Many of them were directly linked with assisting humans, which is why dogs are even today massive people-pleasers.
Thanks to this need to be helpful and useful, dogs are great service assistants for numerous tasks today. This is the main reason why dogs are often seen working as mobility assistance dogs, guide animals for the blinds, and comfort dogs to people with various mental and health issues.
Dogs can be trained to help people with various mental issues, including bipolar disorder.
Canines have impeccable noses. Their noses are so powerful that they can sense chemical changes in the body that can actually preclude a panic attack or manic state.
In most cases, dogs are trained that when they feel a chemical change to lean against their companion or to place their head in the person’s lap as a way to comfort their handler.
The Bottom Line
There is some sort of evidence that dogs can not only feel, but also reflect the mental health of their owners.
So far it should be clear that dogs can have issues of their own. The most common mental health issue in dogs is separation anxiety which can affect a dog’s ability to remain still and functional when put in front of various challenges.
As for bipolar disorder in dogs, it’s clear that dogs can experience some kind of mood swings that may be triggered by various factors.
Still, if you notice that mood swings are too intense, frequent, and often out of control, you should schedule an appointment at the vet’s office.
Whenever you suspect that your dog is in some kind of trouble, you should talk with your veterinarian immediately – your best friend when it comes to keeping your dog healthy, strong, and happy is your veterinarian.