Is My Dog Depressed?

Updated: June 27, 2022

Can dogs get depressed? Like humans, your dog has feelings, too. From time to time, your dog may feel happy and then flip a switch to becoming sad. And if these feelings of sadness are too much trouble for your furbaby, it can turn into depression.

is my dog depressed?

Though your furbaby doesn't level up to your reasoning capacity and the condition may not be considered to have similar complicated clinical disorders like in humans, dogs can suffer depression, too.

As a pet parent, when you notice your dog not being himself, you might ask: Is my dog depressed?

Unfortunately, there is a possibility that your dog is suffering from depression. But worry not, because we are providing tips and tricks to identify depression in dogs and help get your dog feeling their best again.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Depressed

Can dogs get depression? Unfortunately, yes. When your dog is depressed, most pet parents will notice that their furbaby is not acting normal. Aside from appearing sad, here are other signs of dog depression. Dog depression symptoms include:

Hiding and avoiding. Depression in your dog can seem like he's always afraid of something and is constantly hiding in places and avoiding certain people, places or other pets. Dogs are social animals and if your dog suddenly wants to be left alone, something might be bothering him.

Lack of excitement. Sudden loss of interest on the things that usually excites your dog is one of the most noticeable signs of depression in dogs. If your dog usually gets excited by food, people, other dogs, etc and is not showing the same excitement, it could be a a sign of depression.

Total loss of interest. Sudden loss of interest on the things that usually excites her is a sign to look out for depression. Your dog may try to avoid activities and instead secure themselves or rest.

Changes in appetite. When your dog is depressed, they may lose interest in eating and drinking, even when given their favorite foods. These changes in appetite can then result in weight loss. However, there are also cases that when a dog is sad, they find solace and comfort in food, leading to weight gain and even obesity if free-fed or provided additional food by their pet parent.

Changes in sleeping patterns. It is common knowledge to us pet parents that our dogs love to catch some sleep. This sleeping usually happens when they're tired, bored, or left alone (for an instance you went to work). But, if your dog continues sleeping even when you are home or trying to engage with them, it could be a sign of depression. Sleeping pattern changes due to depression can also cause your dog to become restless and have difficulties sleeping when it is bed time as well.

What Causes Dog Depression to Creep In?

If you notice the signs of depression in dogs, you may wonder what caused it. Extreme sadness isn't the only cause of why your dog is depressed as there are a lot of other potential reasons why your furbaby is experiencing this.

Major changes in his environment. Transferring into a new house, renovations, changes in the season, your partner moving in with you, bringing your newborn home for the first time, bringing home a new pet, and so many other things can have an impact on your happy dog. Dogs are not always open to major changes and it can take a while for them to cope up and adjust.

"Sudden loss of interest on the things that usually excites your dog is a sign to look out for depression."

Loss of a loved one. Just like humans grieving, dogs can as well. If a dog's companion passes away, this can cause sadness and depression. A dog may grieve the loss of a pet parent, family member, or another pet in the home.

Grief. Dogs are social animals and some of them get attached easily. If your dog has lost a companion, they may mourn. Keep in mind that loss doesn't always mean death. It can also mean a family member moving out of the house, a child in the family going away for college, a neighbor friend moving away, owners surrendering a dog to a shelter, etc.

Underlying health problems. Undiagnosed health problems can cause depression in your dog. Consult with your veterinarian first to rule out physical causes and emergencies before assuming you are dealing with depression in dogs. If your vet has ruled out all physical causes and your dog still doesn't get well, it's best that you consider looking at psychological and emotional causes.

Fears and traumas. Depression can also be caused by a fear or a trauma that was never managed. Fears can cause additional stress on a dog and they may become upset each time they encounter a trigger. If you notice that something specific seems to upset your dog, try to limit exposure as much as possible.

Your emotions. Your emotions can be one of the possible causes why your dog is depressed. If you are having one of those trying times and are depressed yourself, your furbaby will sometimes pick up how you're feeling and may begin to feel what you're feeling, too.

Helping Your Dog with Depression

Rule out the cause. Just because you feel like your dog is tired and is acting weird, you don't want to suddenly conclude that he or she is depressed. First things first, consult your veterinarian. They will be able to perform tests and exams on your furbaby and be able to diagnose whether or not your dog's depression is actually an illness or medical problem. 

Make life fun again. Once the cause has been ruled out already, make your dog's life exciting. Increase his activity levels through exercise, enrichment, walks, brain games, and playtimes. This is an amazing way to slowly make your way on to recovery.

Using a snuffle mat at meal times is a great way to get your dog engaging with food and working their natural instincts. Put your dog's kibble in a Forager™ Mat and let them use their vision, touch, and smell to get their reward. Not only will this help to get a dog who has lost interest in food to engage, but it also provides mental enrichment. This will help get out some extra energy so that your dog is more tired and has less energy for stress. It may seem counterintuitive to make a dog put in effort, but most dogs enjoy using their senses.

Is Your Dog Sad? signs of dog depression

Take some time to bond. Bonding with your dog will make him feel secure, confident, and that he's not alone. Bonding can be as simple as regularly giving him rubs, massages, teaching him new tricks, and going through a fun general training. You can also consider setting up dog play dates or take your furbaby to dog-friendly spots.

Fill those empty spaces. If your dog is depressed about losing an animal companion, you can consider getting him another animal companion. Though a new pet at home can't personally replace the one that was lost, at least the new guy will provide a distraction and your dog may even form another lasting relationship with him. Alternatively, try giving your dog more time with dogs in your neighborhood or your friend's dogs for play dates.

Let him enjoy his chews. Your depressed dog may end up gnawing on anything in order to help calm themselves. Rather than fighting your dog on what not to chew, provide your dog with safe and high-quality chews that will keep them busy. This will help keep their attention away from chewing on inappropriate things in your house. Plus, it will also help stimulate the brain!

Pet Parents® Gnawtlers® are Grade A elk and deer antlers for dogs. These are natural and premium antler chews made for your furbaby's gnawing needs. It's safe, no artificial flavors have been added, no dyes, no fragrance, and lasts for some time - making it the perfect option for your furbaby to keep him busy, stimulated, and away from all things he can chew on that can harm him.

Provide calming supplements. When your dog goes through depression, Pet Parents® Calming SoftSupps® are here to help! These soft chew supplements for dogs can help out in situations & events that stress out your dog. Whether it is loss, changes in routines, trauma, or anxiety, these supplements can help support calm and balanced behavior. 

Some may not consider dog depression a big canine problem, but depression can either get better or get worse. Untreated depression in dogs may become a life-threatening condition if not resolved properly. Help your furbaby build a sense of relaxation to help fight depression by giving him Calming SoftSupps®. These calming supplements can also help reduce excessive behaviors in your dog.

Our Calming SoftSupps® contain:

  • Suntheanine®, a pure form of L-Theanine that helps in improving the quality of sleep of your furbaby, in improving his daily performances & mental sharpness, in promoting focus and concentration, all while helping support the immune system.
  • L-Tryptophan, an amino acid, considered as a natural anti-depressant, that produces serotonin, which is key in regulating responses to stress & anxiety. The serotonin produced plays an essential function in regulating your dog's mood, appetite, sleep, and anxiety.
  • Organic Passion Flower, the feel-good chemical GABA helps to maintain calmness for stress and discontentment caused by the environment around your dog.

"Put your dog's kibble in a Forager™ Mat and let them use their vision, touch, and smell to get their reward. "

Unfortunately, yes, dogs can get depressed. Turning your dog's depression around won't happen overnight. But. remember that this is only a season in you and your dog's lives, the bright and sunny days are coming. Work with your dog to help them through their sadness and when you notice a strategy working, keep with it.