Dogs & Depression: Causes Of Depression In Dogs (What To Watch Out For And What To Do If Your Dog Is Feeling Down)


Jade Poole from I Write Words


Does your dog seem down? Is she skipping out on meals or losing interest in things that used to make her happy? Have a look at our latest guide on what to look for in depressed dogs and what to do if your dog is depressed.

Depression in dogs might seem like a made-up phenomenon. I’ll admit, the first time I read about I didn’t really think it was a proven issue in pooches.

When you think about dogs, you tend to picture these happily bounding bundles of joy.

But the thing is, some dogs can and do suffer from depression.

Although depression in dogs might not be as complex as it is in humans, it is still a relevant and very real issue among our canine companions.

In fact, in some cases, depression can lead to drastic weight loss and the development of severe physical illnesses.

As a caring paw-parent, you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that there are ways to detect depression and help your dog through it.

5 warnings signs of depression in dogs

1. She is eating more than usual or not eating at all

If your dog is depressed, one of the first signs of this will be a change in his appetite.

Some dogs may eat less or stop eating and others may see food as a sense of comfort and overeat.

If you notice extreme weight loss or weight gain in a short period of time, then there might be an issue here.

2. She is sleeping all the time

Just like humans, when a dog is depressed, she will sleep more than normal.

Excessive sleeping is a symptom of depression.

3. She is hiding and/or avoiding humans and other dogs

If your dog suddenly wants to be left alone, hides and does not want to interact with humans or other dogs (and this is not normal for their typical personality), then this could be a physical issue or linked to emotions.

4. She has lost interest in things that used to make her happy

One of the biggest symptoms of depression in dogs is when they no longer seem interested in playing, walking or even a treat.

5. She is excessively licking her paws

Did you know that a depressed dog will excessively lick their paws as a way to soothe their sadness?

4 common causes of canine depression

1. Physical illness

There are a number of health issues that can cause your dog to act depressed. It’s advised that you contact and see your vet if you notice any signs of depression in your dog.

It’s important to rule out any physical causes for your precious pooch’s behaviour before it gets any worse.

If your vet is able to find an underlying issue, then hopefully any symptoms of depression will improve through treatment.

If it is not a physical issue, then you might need to look into any emotional problems your dog may be experiencing.

2. Grief

Like humans, dogs also mourn the loss of animal and human companions.

If you have recently lost a family member or a dog in your house, or even if a child in your house has grown up and moved out, then your dog might be feeling the effects of this.

3. Moving house or environmental changes

If you have renovated your home or recently moved to a new one, then this may upset your dog as there is no way to explain these changes to him.

4. Your emotions

Are you sick or depressed? Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?

Our dogs are incredibly susceptible to our emotions. This means that they feel what we feel.

What should I do if I think my dog is depressed?

If you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, then it’s a good idea to have your dog checked out by your vet. Luckily, if you have pet insurance, then depending on your plan, you will have cover for vet visits too!

As we said, there might be an underlying physical issue such as an injury or sickness. In which case, this can be detected and treated.

However, if your vet diagnoses your dog with depression, then he or she may recommend various ways to help your dog get through this.

Here are some simple strategies to help your dog get through depression:

  1. Exercise is a good place to start.
  2. Engage in fun activities and take time to bond with your dog.
  3. Do not reinforce the sad behaviour by overcompensating with love and affection. Give your dog healthy doses of attention and cuddles, but do not go overboard.
  4. Stay on schedule and stick to your daily routine.
  5. If you have recently lost a dog, then, if the timing is right, you may want to look into adopting a shelter dog as a companion for your current dog.
  6. In some cases, your vet might recommend medications.
  7. It may also help to seek out the advice and training of a certified animal behaviourist.

We hope this blog was helpful in shedding some light on depression in dogs,

Yours in cuddle-worthy pet insurance,


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