Looking After Your Pup’s Mental Health

January 19, 2022

When we think about dogs and mental health, it tends to be in terms of how pet ownership can improve the mental health of people. An important part of having a dog, though, is providing for our dog’s mental health needs. Aggression, whale eye, unwanted chewing, compulsive licking, upset stomach, peeing and pooping indoors, excessive barking or whining and disinterest in food or activities can all be signs of mental distress in a pup. While there are sometimes obvious triggers for depression, aggression or anxiety in a dog, such as a dog’s person going back to work, trauma or the loss of a beloved companion, there are other common causes for mental health issues in dogs.

The experienced pet care providers at American Boarding Kennels have identified three common causes and solutions for maintaining your dog’s mental health. Keep reading to learn how to better provide for your furry friend’s mental health needs.

Give Your Dog Plenty of Physical and Mental Stimulation

Just like people, dogs thrive on mental and physical stimulation, especially when their favorite human is helping them get it. When dogs aren’t getting the exercise and stimulation they need, they can develop depression, anxiety and aggression. Playing games, practicing skills and walking, running or hiking with your pet affirms your bond while giving them the exercise and mental stimulation they need to ward off anxiety and boredom. Walking outdoors with your dog allows them to engage their nose which provides the added benefit of supporting their natural behaviors, a vital part of your dog’s overall happiness. When you can’t provide active stimulation for your dog, there are a number of puzzle toys on the market that will keep your dog’s mind engaged on a task and earn a tasty reward.

Feed Your Dog a Nutritious Diet

Your dog’s diet can have a big impact on their mental health. Make sure your dog is getting the nutrition they need by purchasing foods with labels that affirm it meets the nutritional requirements for dogs as established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials. Consult with your veterinarian regularly to make sure any special dietary needs are being met. If your pup seems like they need a mental health boost, offer them bone broth which contains vital immune and brain health nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acid, hyaluronic acid and gelatin. Another great source for these nutrients is marrow bones, which also lets dogs have a fun, engaging chew that allows them to tap into those important natural instincts. Just make sure not to give your dog a cooked marrow bone, and remember that bones should always be enjoyed under supervision.

Maintain a Peaceful Environment

Like people, dogs need to feel safe and secure in order to maintain their mental health. Make sure your pup has a safe place to go when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Crate training your dog teaches them that they have a cozy den of their own where they can snooze, play or relax. You can also set up a dedicated corner of your home with your dog’s favorite blanket and toy. Your home environment should keep your dog safe from triggers. For example, if your dog is territorial, limit their access to windows to avoid building up their stress levels. The cortisol triggered by a stressful encounter takes days to dissipate, and over a long period of time can develop into larger mental health issues.

In addition to providing a safe space for your dog, routines are helpful for a dog’s mental health. Establish normal feeding times and regular opportunities for training, exercise and play to keep your dog their happiest, healthiest self.

Keep Your Dog Happy with American Boarding Kennels 

Socialization, training and personalized care are important parts of maintaining a dog’s mental health. For 37 years, American Boarding Kennels has provided Twin Cities dogs with comfortable, safe, playful boarding services. As a trusted partner for Twin Cities pet owners, we offer training, grooming and doggy day care services to help you care for the mental and physical needs of your beloved furry friends. From Play and Train services to overnight boarding, we treat each pup with personalized attention and care and provide ample communication to keep their people in the know. To learn more about our services, stop by one of our five locations in Burnsville, Montgomery, Edina, Wayzata, or Long Lake, give us a call at (952) 894-5100 or visit our website.