A new study found that dogs are more likely to suffer from depression if their owners spend too much time on their cell phones.
Your smartphone may be leading to some unwelcome behavioral problems and, worse, depression, in your four-legged best friends. A recent study out of the UK determined that dogs are suffering from depression due to being ignored by their humans. The main culprit – cell phone usage.
We’re all aware of the increase in neck and spinal disfunction due to increased time staring down into the tiny cell phone screen in our hands, the massive increase in traffic accidents due to drivers distracted by their smartphones, and studies showing that all that screen time could be impacting our mental health.
But, a recent study is showing another side effect of our cell phone addictions, one that might actually get us to put down the phones for good and once again enjoy the world right in front of us… our smartphones could be causing depression in our dogs.
When we pay more attention to our phones than to our dogs, we damage our emotional bond with them and make our dogs feel lonely and isolated.
“We’re a nation obsessed by our mobile phones,” veterinary surgeon and founder of VetUK, Iain Booth, told Metro.co.uk. “But this gadget dependence is jeopardizing the important relationships we have with our pets, particularly dogs and to a lesser extent house cats.”
“To understand what’s going on we have to look at the basic principles of how a dog interacts physically and emotionally with a human,” Booth says. “A dog is a social creature, a pack animal. And to the dog you are the bona fide leader of the pack. You administer every facet of its life – you collect, you feed, you show it where its allowed to go and you – hopefully – nurture its development. But if you’re perpetually attached to your phone, that vital bond breaks down and the dog is hit for six. The dog requires constant feedback and interaction. It wants to please you – that’s simply how its evolutionary hard-wired.”
“If it’s sitting there looking up at you, but you’re too busy gawping at someone’s irrelevant snap on Facebook, you’ve got a problem,” he continued. “You do that consistently for weeks, months and years on end and you’re going to get some real behavioral issues.”
Booth said that, depending on the dog, constantly being ignored could lead to, at best, your dog developing nuisance behaviors to get your attention and, at worst, develop aggression.
“Those sorts of dogs can end up becoming emotionally distant from their owners, which is terribly sad. If you’ve let a relationship get to that level, why on earth did you bother getting a dog in the first place? And make no mistake, canine depression is a very real thing. Warning signs to look out for are a lack of interest in food, the dog sleeping more, they’ll hide from you or avoid you, and they might start excessively licking or chewing their paws to soothe themselves.”
So, why not make a vow to be more present, to put down the cell phone, and to spend more time enjoying the world – and more importantly, the dog – that’s right in front of you.