How to Know if Your Dog is Depressed... And What to Do About It

 


Saying goodbye to a pet is one of the most difficult moments you can have.

Then you go home to explain it to your other dog. Only he doesn’t understand what you’re saying or why the tears are streaming down your face.

Then he gets it…

You left with Minnie, but you came back alone.

Days go by. Then it’s weeks. Milo can’t be left alone for an hour without howling.

Your dog is seriously depressed.

If you’re anything like me, your dog’s wellbeing is one of the most important things in your life.

Depression can hit your dog at any time. It doesn’t have to be the result of a devastating loss.

So what do you do when your dog is down in the dumps?

I’m going to cover some signs to help pinpoint when your dog is depressed, but you should always trust your instincts.

No one knows your dog like you do. No one.

 

What Does a Depressed Dog Look Like?

In a word: Sad. Especially if you know the dog well, you may be able to tell whether your dog is depressed based on a facial expression alone. If you miss this sign and notice others, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad owner or out of touch with your pet. Dogs are individuals and some are more likely to show emotion than others.

 

sad dog depression

What Does a Depressed Dog Do?

Changes in Behavior And Mood

In order to tell if your dog is depressed, pay close attention to how he acts. Any sudden changes in behavior or mood could be a sign that there’s something wrong. But there are specific things you can look for in your dog’s behavior that almost definitely indicate depression. And if it’s not depression, it’s still a problem that must be addressed.

You can be especially sure that there’s a problem if your dog is showing three or more of these signs.

Appetite changes 

A depressed dog may stop eating or eat like her life depended on it. It all depends on the dog. Again, in this situation, it’s always best to look for sudden and/or extreme changes in appetite.

 

Sleeping often

The average adult dog sleeps about 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour day. Puppies sleep 18 to 20 hours, so it would be difficult to notice an increase here. However, if your adult dog starts sleeping like a puppy, he may be depressed.

Paw licking

That incessant licking may be a sign that your dog is down in the dumps. Keep in mind that there are also physiological reasons for your dog to chomp at her paws too, including bacterial infections, eczema, joint pain and dry skin. However, if your dog is licking at his paws and exhibiting other signs on this list, it may be due to depression.

Hiding

If your dog never seems to be around the family anymore, this may be a sign of depression. Dogs are pack animals, so family is important. When they retreat and begin spending more time alone, it is never a good sign.

 

 

Why Do Dogs Get Depressed?

Dog personalities are as individual as human personalities, so their reasons for feeling upset or depressed may vary. However, there are some common triggers that may or may not lead to depression in your dog. If your dog is dealing with any of these changes and exhibiting the signs listed above, depression is the likely culprit.

A physical move

Like so many of us, dogs are creatures of habit. Even if you move to a bigger house with an even bigger yard, your dog may long for her old bone hiding places. If this is the cause of your dog’s depression, you should take comfort in knowing that it’s not likely to last long.

Loss of a loved one

Dogs can grieve just like the rest of us. If a dog’s owner or a close companion pet passes away, you may notice signs of depression in your dog. But if you don’t see these signs after a major loss, don’t worry. Not all dogs grieve in the same way. One dog may roam the house crying while another may give you more doggie kisses to help you feel better.

New family member

If you bring home a new spouse, roommate or baby, you may notice a change in your pooch. Your pup may be jealous of the time you spend with this new person and become withdrawn. This type of depression should be temporary as your dog forms a relationship with this new person.

New pet

Just like when you bring home a new family member, bringing home a four-legged family member can have an impact on your dog’s mood. Your pup may get depressed about any time you spend with the new pet. In this situation, again, it may be temporary. Your dog will likely form a relationship with the new pet and this will improve his mood.

Change in your schedule

Accepting a job with drastically different hours can affect more than just your sleep. Going from the day shift to the night shift also means that your dog won’t get her regular 6 a.m. walk. Even if she’s still going out at the same regular intervals, timing shifts mean new and new friends. The same exact route at a drastically different time can mean big change for a dog!

New Ownership or Temporary Home

There are those tragic moments when pet parents have to find new homes for their furry kids. And there are times when it’s only a temporary situation, like vacation. The thing is, your dog doesn’t know the difference. If you leave your pooch for an hour, five days or forever, it feels the same in the moment. Your dog is likely to become withdrawn in his new environment until he gets more comfortable or you return.

 

Your Own Depression

This last one doesn’t even occur to many pet owners, but dogs can feel our pain. They are actually empathetic beings. Dogs pick up on our sadness and depression and may mimic our sentiment. A joint Sao Paulo and Lincoln University found that most dogs were able to match a person’s tone of voice with the mood displayed in their picture. They know what it looks like when we’re angry, sad or happy – and they’ll change their mood to suit ours.

 

What to Do When There’s a Problem

If you’ve been nodding your head along to the list of symptoms above, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not time to diagnose your dog’s depression yet. Here is where we come to a fork in the road…

Because our dogs can’t tell us what’s wrong, the symptoms you’re seeing could be from depression or a physical problem.

So what do you do about it?

After identifying a problem, some pet owners jump into action taking measures to alleviate things that may be causing depression.

Others will first rule out any health issues that could be causing similar symptoms.

The path you choose is a personal one and will depend on your gut feeling. If you’re sure your dog is depressed because someone just passed away or you brought a new baby into the home, it’s a safe assumption.

However, if the cause of depression-like symptoms isn’t as obvious, a physical ailment may be more likely.

 

What to Do When Your Dog’s Symptoms Aren’t Really Depression

There are a few things you can do if you think your dog’s symptoms may be the result of a physical ailment.

One option is to take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup. Your vet will do a thorough examination and take your dog’s vital signs. From here, he or she should be able to give you some indication of whether your dog may be dealing with a physical issue.

Another option is to take the natural route.

We’ll cover the specifics on how to treat your dog’s depression naturally soon, but homeopathic remedies, tonics and probiotics can also work to bring your pet back to an overall state of wellness.

Give us a call to discuss your pet’s condition and we will recommend a treatment plan that addresses his or her specific condition.

 

How to Comfort a Depressed Dog

For the first time ever, you walk through the front door after a long day of work and your dog doesn’t greet you. Your heart sinks.

Could she be hurt? Or worse?

No, that’s right. She’s still depressed.

You thought it would pass, but it’s only getting worse. You know this isn’t going away on its own, but what do you do?

Anyone who has ever had a depressed dog has struggled with this question.

Fortunately, there are good answers. Although they do have emotions, dogs are not complicated beings. Their needs are simple, and it’s usually not too difficult to turn their mood around. Usually.

Try one or all of these four things to help your depressed dog feel better.

 

Increase Cuddle Time

You don’t have to be a canine behavioral therapist to know that your dog craves your attention. If possible, give your dog more positive feedback and relaxed cuddle time.

But whatever you do, don’t overdo it! Your dog needs space too.

Dogs are cursorial animals. This is a fancy term to say, “baby, they are born to run!” The feeling of being held down can cause anxiety, which is the exact opposite of your desired reaction. A hug may make you feel better, but it will surely make your dog feel worse.

A few pats on the head and scratches behind the ear will go a long way.

 

Up the Entertainment Value

When you’re feeling down, it may help to get your endorphins up by going for a jog or a bike ride. The same holds true for your dog – he just can’t reach the peddles.

A Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science study found that dogs who played games with their owners were less likely to experience separation anxiety than those who didn’t. The study suggests that playing with your dog may increase your bond, which can help your dog through a difficult time. It’s the closest thing you’re going to get to a heart-to-heart with your pooch.

 

Rock Out to Some Reggae

Good news… information from the Scottish SPCA indicates that dogs may really like music! Results from a study found that dogs respond differently when exposed to certain types of music. Their responses indicate that dogs taste in music may vary as much as ours, but they seem more likely to enjoy reggae and soft rock over other types of music. So throw on some Bob Marley and spend some quality time rocking out with your pooch.

 

Fill the Void

If your dog is depressed about losing a companion animal, you may be able to help fill the void by getting another companion animal. Of course, you should only do this if it makes sense for your personal situation. And a companion animal will never replace the one you lost, not even for your dog. However, it may provide a distraction, and eventually, a new bond that can help make your dog feel better.

 

Natural Remedies for Dog Depression

If you’ve tried everything above and your dog still seems depressed – or if you’re looking to add to this approach and address your dog’s overall well-being – you may want to consider HAPPYPET, a natural remedy

HAPPYPET can lift your dog’s depressed mood by easing the body’s physical stress response. It’s formulated to help calm the adrenal glands, which may be in overdrive for pets who’ve suffered a loss or trauma; in fact, it can even counteract symptoms related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, it supports the respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular systems, which can be affected by chronic stress. It also helps to rebalance the organs that are linked with mood disorders in Chinese medicine. 

 

By working at a biological level, this remedy helps alleviate stress and depression while promoting more positive feelings. As the depression lifts, your companion should become calmer, happier, and less fearful, and you may notice improvements in his appetite and ability to sleep more soundly. In other words, with regular HAPPYPET treatments and a little extra help from you, your pooch should start acting (and feeling!) like his old self again!

 

Prescription Medications for Dog Depression

Some people prefer to go the traditional-medicine route and opt for prescription medication for dog depression. Studies have shown that the following medications are relatively safe and effective, but be aware that they may have unwanted side effects.

Amitriptyline

Vets will often prescribe this medication to treat anxiety in pets. It works by adjusting serotonin and norepinephrine levels in an effort to restore balance.

Common side effects: Drowsiness, dry mouth, decreased urination, increased heart rate, constipation, vomiting and hyperexcitability.

 

Doxepin

Doxepin is used to treat depression, certain phobias and OCD behavior in dogs and other pets. It can also be used as an antihistamine to treat allergies.

Common side effects: Drowsiness, lack of energy, vomiting and hyperexcitability.

 

Fluoxetine

Your vet may prescribe fluoxetine to treat depression, OCD or panic disorders. This is a generic alternative to Prozac.

Common side effects: Sedation, anorexia, GI upset, anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity and insomnia

 

Getting a Depressed Dog Happy

Turning your dog’s mood around isn’t always as easy as waving the ball around, but with a little investigation and time, you can treat your pet’s depression.

This time for you and your dog is a season in life. Once you solve the underlying issues, you can get back to those sunshiney days of worry-free romping around the park.

 

 


About the Author


Denyse Lessard
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE THERAPIST

Denyse Lessard is a therapist in alternative medicine. She is the creator of the company’s entire line of natural remedies.

She has an extensive educational background and has earned multiple degrees, including diplomas in Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Naturopathy & Iridology, and Homeopathy. She is also a member of the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec, and the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec.

When working with her patients, Denyse believes in not only helping pets achieve optimum health, but keeping them in tip-top shape for their entire lives.

We invite you to learn more about Denyse's expertise in the alternative field.

Feel free to contact me anytime at support@homeonanimal.com

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39 comments

Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Hi Sue,

Thank you for your comment and sharing this with us.

First of all let me share our deepest sympathize for you and your family for your very sad loss. Times like these are hard on all family members….including the furry ones.

We are here to help in any way we can! We have sent you a private email so we can grasp the situation better and so we can help this dog in these difficult times as well.

We look forward to helping you both more.

Regards,
Homeoanimal

Created on Posted by Sue Comment Link

Hi, I have a maltese shitzu which l brought for my father when he was a puppy, he lived with my father for 10 years and l went there every day and walked him. My father has recently passed away and l now have my boy. He seems to have settled in ok but always seems sad, he follows me everywhere and just sits and stares at me. He wont go to bed until l do, which drives me nuts because l always like to keep busy . I spend a lot of time cuddling him and walking him but then l need my time but l dont get any. It’s like his scared l’m going to leave him as well. I adore my little man `to the point l have to move as l’m not allowed dogs where l am. How can l get him to relax and not follow me everywhere….

Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Hi Victoria,

Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your dog current situation. I have scheduled a call for you from one Health Advisors to see how best we can help!

Warm regards,
The Homeoanimal team

Created on Posted by Victoria Comment Link

I’ve had my dog since she was a baby and she’s 13 years old the doctor talked me into giving her and anal remover and ever since then she does not want to play she doesn’t want to go to sleep unless I go to sleep so eat and go to sleep she won’t even go for walks anymore and it also gave her a heart murmur so I’m constantly paying for heart medicine on top of the payment which I only get 825 a month and I have to pay a hundred and twenty-five a month believe it or not and the medicine costs me $156 a month I can never seem to get ahead my phone number is 206-607-7528 I don’t mind giving you my phone or my name is Victoria and I really need to talk to somebody I hate texting and I hate doing on the internet I’d rather talk on the phone thank you

I’ve had my dog since she was a baby canal 13 years old 2 years ago she had to have an anal exam removed and ever since then she ended up with a heart murmur after that it cost me a lots of money and I only get 8:25 a month I’ve been struggling trying to just make the payments of 150 a month and then I have to buy her medicine every month she quit playing with her toy she doesn’t like going out walking she just doesn’t want to do anything with me please call me I hate doing this stuff on the internet my name is Victoria and my phone number is 206-607-7528 thank you please call me

Created on Posted by HOMEOANIMAL Comment Link

Hi Joel,

Thank you for sharing such a touching story with us. I’m sure your dog feels so blessed to have been rescued by such a loving pet parent. As for the change you speak of, we have sent you a private email to work with you personally to help you with this new change in your pet.

We look forward to helping you both.

Regards,
Homeoanimal team


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