What to do when our dogs are down in the dumps

Dog - Sad Pug

Negative feelings, including depression and anxiety, are being more widely reported in dogs – but what can owners do to help their pet feel better? Professional advice and a lot of love can go a long way, says Molly the Jack Russell, from pet food company Town & Country Petfoods.

You only have to look at some of us pooches (particularly the Bassets and Bloodhounds) to understand where the phrase ‘hangdog expression’ might have come from. When we watch you with our sad eyes, you’d be forgiven for thinking the world was coming to an end when all we really want is a bite of your dinner and some attention.

Facial appearances aside, most animal behaviour experts agree that dogs experience similar feelings to humans, albeit at a more basic level. Like you, we act out our emotions – from wagging our tails enthusiastically as we greet you at the front door to languishing in our basket if we’re a little blue.

Canine depression is a debilitating condition and while we can’t articulate how we feel in the same way you can, signs like low energy, listlessness, poor appetite and disturbed sleep can indicate something is wrong.

If these symptoms last more than a few days, your mum and dad might take you to see the vet, since there may be another underlying cause. Loss of appetite, for instance, could indicate dental disease, parasites or even cancer, so you should get it checked out straight away.

Once other conditions have been ruled out, and your vet suspects that it is depression, it’s time to look at what’s going on at home. Most of us are highly sensitive to changes to our routine and bereavement, illness or the arrival of a new baby or pet in the household can leave us unsettled. Separation anxiety can be another issue for dogs, with some feeling distressed whenever you go out to work or on holiday.

Treating depression in dogs can be relatively straightforward, although you should always follow the guidance of your vet. Just as good nutrition, exercise and quality sleep can lift your spirits, so too can they help us feel better. Dogs who feel overwhelmed by changes in the home may also appreciate a quiet space where they can retreat to if needed.

In more serious cases, a vet may advise a course of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. Although your owner can buy tablets online, they should never attempt to treat you without seeking professional guidance first, as there can be dangerous side effects. The vet will also be able to advise them on the length of treatment, dosage and how to administer it.

The good news is that a few simple lifestyle changes can really help us if we’re feeling depressed, even if it is just extra cuddles or our favourite dinner. For rescue dogs like me, who have had a difficult start in life, the journey can be more challenging and some may need extra care and training to address their anxiety and/or behavioural issues. But most of us believe that living in the moment is what counts – and in the right environment, we can do just that.

Does your dog suffer from depression? Share your experience with us on social media Facebook and Twitter.

Back to top

Prevent your dog from feeling paw-ly this Autumn

Dog - Couple walking in Autumn

The leaves are falling, the nights are drawing in and it’s time to wrap yourself and your four-legged friend up warm again! Autumn is a perfect time to take a wander through red, gold and brown countryside and enjoy some of the most picturesque months of the year. As with every season though, there are several myths and question marks surrounding your pets’ health, so here are a few little tips to consider over the coming months.


As we know dogs are curious creatures, especially out in the wild and free from their lead. Autumn, however is a time where poisonous mushrooms grow in many local forests and shrub land areas. Dogs are unable to recognise the difference between toxic and non-toxic mushrooms, so the best alternative is to try and avoid areas where mushrooms might grow.

Recognisable symptoms include sickness, diarrhoea, lethargy and excessive salivation. If you think your dog has eaten something nasty, then take them to a vet as soon as possible.


It might be best for Fido not to get involved in this year’s family apple bobbing contest! Despite past debate, apples have proven unhealthy for your pooch. Whilst the flesh of an apple is suitable and a friendly treat for dogs, the apple stem, leaves and seeds are not so enjoyable.

Difficulty breathing, decreased heart rate and an upset tummy, are all signs your dog has had a bad reaction to the fruit.

Back to school

Autumn marks the start of a new school year for many which also means splayed open pencil cases and cast aside homework being scattered around the house. Munching on pencils, school glues and permanent markers can give your dog quite the stomach ache.

The old enemy of chocolate is one to look out for as well. As youngsters pick up their trick or treat buckets in October, make sure you keep their stash (or yours) well out of sniff’s reach.


Bonfire season can startle and bring on anxiety within your dog, often leaving them stressed and pacing around the house, if the loud bangs can be heard nearby.

Try not to leave your pup alone if you know they are prone to anxiety; make sure they have had plenty of exercise in the day so they are tired by evening; and maybe make a comfortable, indoor environment with their favorite blankets and toys.

Repellents and cleaners

As the leaves turn brown and fall from the trees, the nights get colder and wetter, and out come the slugs and snails! This means a greater use in slug and rodent repellents, which are of course dangerous for our pets, so make sure to keep an eye on your pooch when sniffing around outside.

Frosty mornings mean people rushing to defrost their cars before work and so increases the use of anti freeze and screen wash in the colder months. But be vigilant where your dog is sniffing, as the chemicals can be toxic.

Staying seen

The clocks go back on the 29th October, and already the days are getting shorter and your evening strolls are not as bright as you’ve been used to. You and your buddy need to be seen if walking on the road after sunset, so it may be worth grabbing yourself a reflective jacket or dog lead, you can also find light up leads and collars, which are really easy to spot in the dark.

Do you have any Autumnal tips? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

Back to top

All set to unveil our It's only natural range at PATS Telford!

PATS Telford Logo

Since the launch of our brand new ‘It’s only natural’ range earlier this summer, we’ve been busy showcasing it to our trade customers. Now we’re giving even more of you the chance to find out all about it when we exhibit at PATS Telford on 24th and 25th September.

This event, held at Telford International Centre, brings together some of the industry’s leading names – and last year, it attracted more than 2,000 visitors, including pet product buyers, from the UK and abroad.

Exhibiting at Stand B29 on both days, the Town & Country Petfoods team will be ready to tell you everything you need to know about the HiLife ‘It’s only natural’ range. Comprising Nutritionally Complete Wet Recipes, Luxury Wet Recipes and all-natural treats, these products contain no artificial flavours, preservatives or grains, which are known to cause intolerances in cats.


We know that many owners want to feed their cats dishes made using quality ingredients with no unnecessary fillers, so we developed a range to meet this demand. With its warm design, strong shelf appeal and clear pricing structure, we think these hand-prepared products will appeal to both customers and retailers alike.

There is also an exclusive show offer, where you can buy four cases for the price of three (cheapest is free).

For further information on It’s only natural, and other HiLife products, visit www.hilifepet.co.uk. PATS Telford runs from 9.30am to 5pm on 24th September and 9.30am to 4pm on 25th September. Visit www.patshow.co.uk for more details and join in the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #PATStelford. 

Back to top