Health & Hygiene

Is Your Dog Depressed? Depression in Dogs

Written by Nancy Boland

Our dogs can get depressed, just like we can. This can be due to some change in their lives or a symptom of an underlying illness. Either way, it’s important to learn how to spot the signs so you can know how to help your dog feel better.

Common signs

The signs of depression in dogs are actually very similar to the ones we can experience. When your pet seems particularly lethargic or appears to be moping around the house or yard, it’s possible that he feels down.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms:

  • Becoming withdrawn – A depressed dog may stop interacting with his companions, including his owners and other pets.
  • Becoming inactive – They might no longer show any interest in taking walks or playing. He might also tend to move slower and not seem to have much purpose to his wandering.
  • Changes in appetite – They might lose his appetite, and this could lead to weight loss. Alternatively, a depressed dog might eat more and begin to gain weight.
  • Changes in sleep habits – Depressed dogs tend to sleep more, but some may become more restless and unable to sleep well.

depressed dog 1

Causes

If you can identify what’s triggering depression in your pet, you’re halfway there to solving the problem. Here are few reasons why you’re dog could be feeling depressed:

Environmental Changes

As with people, events going on around your pet can cause him to feel depressed and anxious. For example, dogs can experience depression and grief when another pet or human member of the household is ill or dies. This is also true when a family member moves away or changes schedules. When summer ends and your dog is suddenly alone most of the day after having children around all summer, symptoms of depression triggered by separation anxiety and loneliness can occur.

You can counteract the effects of these experiences by taking your dog out and about to give him some mental stimulation. Play his favourite game or activity and try and make time for it at least once a day

Weather and Seasonal Changes

Changes in seasons can have an impact on canine moods, as do periods of extended bad weather. For example, the moods of dogs that live in areas where hurricanes occur can be impacted by the change in atmospheric pressure. Additionally, just as the onset of winter can lead to seasonal affective disorder in some people, it can also an impact on your dog.

Medical Conditions

Often dogs exhibit symptoms of depression when there is something physically wrong with them. Behaviour changes may indicate the existence of a medical problem. This is why it’s so important to seek veterinary care if depression symptoms don’t seem to be triggered by a specific event or if they persist for a period of time.

Helping your dog cope

As soon as you notice your dog is experiencing unexplained or prolonged symptoms of depression, contact your vet. It’s important to verify whether or not your dog is sick or has a chemical imbalance that should be treated with medication. Once you’ve made sure that your pet has received proper care, you can begin looking at environmental factors that might have an impact on your pet’s mood and see what you can do to improve those situations.

About the author

Nancy Boland

I'm Nancy, owner of a very spoiled, one eyed Jack Russell called Basil. I'm a trainee veterinarian with a love for all things dogs. I'm especially passionate about dog adoption and always advocate rescue and enjoy writing about canine health and nutrition, alongside overall well-being tips for happy dogs!