DOG owners have been offered advice on how to spot the signs of depression in their four-legged friends.

The animal experts at Pure Pet Food have teamed up with their resident vet, Dr Andrew Miller to look at the signs and symptoms of depression in dogs.

They believe that just like humans, dogs can display withdrawn, depressive behaviours that can lead to inactivity and altering their sleeping and eating habits.

There are a number of triggers which can cause depression in dogs. The most common is a loss of companion in the family home - so another dog, cat or other pet that has passed away.

The second is the loss of an owner.

The dog will need time to grieve and come to terms with the change of dynamic in the home.

Other triggers include moving house, a new baby or an addition to the household, changes to routine or empathy for an owner who is feeling depressed or unhappy.

They suggest a number of ways to help pets including rewarding happy behaviours, more walks and exercise and a healthy, nutritious diet.

Dr Miller said: "There are some obvious signs to look out for. Becoming inactive and withdrawn are all classic symptoms as is a change in eating and sleeping patterns.

"Dogs can often lose their appetite in these circumstances, just like us.

“If an owner recognises any of these, then the first thing to do is to get their dog checked by a vet to rule out any underlying health problems.

“It’s then all about encouraging your dog to take part in activities they love.

"That could be more walks or runs through the woods and playing with their favourite toys.

"Rewarding these behaviours with treats is a good way to reinforce these positive steps."