How To Know If Your Dog is Depressed

I have tooth decay, weep over the good and the bad. I even know I cry from time to time watching Star Trek. Human emotions are a bit crazy, and if you are the parent of a dog, you know dogs have emotions too, is this what called depression?.

Today, the role of mental health and depression is emphasized more in the average person.

However, you may be surprised to learn that depression can happen to both pets and us. In fact, depression thrives in dogs, but many owners aren’t sure how to pay attention to it. This fact can be worrying for pet owners who may not understand how depression in their dogs affects their lives. Making sure you know how to care for pets can help you and your royals live better lives.

How Depression Affects Dogs

Understanding depression in dogs can be difficult for owners because they don’t have the same communication skills. However, the vet will tell you that depression in dogs is similar to symptoms in humans. Depressed dogs are withdrawn and inactive, associated with changes in eating and sleeping habits. They can stop participating in activities they once enjoyed. Depression is also closely related to anxiety.

Depression can also occur in older dogs as part of canine dementia.

While your dog may not notice the stresses of the human world, many of the things that worry us can affect it too. Experts say the main sources are separation, aging, travel, and anxiety, with anxiety being the most common.

Similar to humans, fear of the unknown can cause pets to become anxious. If there are unfamiliar people or animals around, it might cause your pet undue stress. Loud noises are also a main cause of anxiety for pets.

Many pets don’t do well in unfamiliar environments. That’s one reason pets tend to get anxious when travelling. Some dogs also don’t do well when it comes to flying or driving in cars. Keeping your pooch occupied is a great way to distract them and channel their anxiety. Of course, keep in mind that these symptoms can also be indicative of a medical problem.

If you suspect your dog has depression, take your dog to the vet for inspection. Your dog may also be in pain or other common problems. Cut down on other potential health problems that are on the safe side.

Signs Your Dog May Be Depressed

Dogs can be depressed for a variety of reasons. “Dogs can be depressed if they lost a family member, a kid went off to college or another dog in the house passed away. I see depression a lot in dogs whose families have gone through a divorce,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas, and a contributor for Senior Tail Waggers.

Ochoa adds that dogs can get very attached to people and other pets, so when these relationships change, they can show signs of depression. If you think your dog is down in the dumps, here are the signs to look for and ways to help perk them back up.


“Most dogs that are depressed will lay around more and not really want to interact with other people in the house,” says Ochoa. It could be their age, but if it’s suddenly come on, or they’re sleeping way too often, then it might be depression.”

Have you recently changed your routine? Try to play with your dog using their favorite toy or take them for a walk. “Fresh air does a world of good for the brain,” says Conrad Rossouw, a certified dog trainer based in Scotland.

Changes in Appetite

Sad and stressed dogs may also not want to eat or drink. “They may also stop eating their food, but will eat people food,” says Ochoa. So, look for any change from the normal diet and cravings. “Any change in appetite can be a sign of depression but can also be a sign of something else,” adds Ochoa, so get your pooch to the vet for a checkup to rule out anything else.

They could also be gaining weight. “This usually goes hand in hand with a lack of exercise and stimulation. Try and take your dog for a walk,” says Rossouw. And look at their calorie intake. Are you feeding them too much? They might be getting too much food compared to the exercise they’re doing, which would be unrelated to stress and sadness.

Hiding and Withdrawing

If your pup is disappearing or withdrawing to odd places in the home, they could be feeling stressed or sad. “You may find them sleeping under the bed or in a closet. This is a common sign seen with depressed dogs,” says Ochoa. Try playing a game or giving them more attention to make them feel happier and more relaxed.

Licking Its Feet

When a dog is depressed they may lick their feet. Why? “This is a calming method for many dogs,” says Ochoa. Constant licking and grooming is a sign that your dog is trying to comfort themselves.

If your pup has been self-grooming a lot over a long period of time, it may be a sign of something else. “Doing it too much means it becomes a habit. If you’ve ruled out any medical issues, then I’d recommend getting your dog back into a routine, and playing games with them to stimulate their mind,” says Rossouw.

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