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How To Know If Your Dog Is Depressed

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What To Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

How to know if your dog is depressed and what to do about it

Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation AnxietyModerate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, its crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.

The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.

Step One: Predeparture CuesAs mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leaveeven for just few secondswithout triggering their dogs extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that youre leaving and get so anxious about being left alone that he cant control himself and forgets that youll come back.

Medications Might HelpAlways consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.

Changes In Sleeping Habits

It’s no secret that dogs sleep a lot, particularly when their owners are gone. However, you should be concerned if you leave your dog for a long time and he continues to sleep after you get home, barely reacting to your presence, something is probably wrong, or if he stays curled up instead of coming to the window or door for things that once attracted him, like the visitors or a passing dog.

How To Know If Your Dog Is Depressed You Suppose To Know

Reviewed By Linda Barnes Updated June 19, 2021

If you value happiness and cheer in your life, a dog might be the ideal companion for you. Unfortunately, however, even this playful animal can experience depression sometimes. As an owner, how to know if your dog is depressed? And what should you do about it?

It might seem unbelievable to some people that such boisterous creatures can fall victim to depression, but it happens. Of course, we cant say that its the same as human depression, but the signs all point to something similar. But, we cant ask a dog if its depressed, can we?

All you can do is keep an eye out for symptoms. If your dog is suddenly acting down, lethargic, or aggressive, depression could be the underlying issue. However, there could also be other reasons, so how do you know if a dog is depressed and not otherwise sick?

Its essential first to rule out any other reasons, and then you could go ahead and try curing your dogs depression. In this blog post, I will try my best to make you understand the symptoms, reasons, and ways to lessen depression in dogs.

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How Do You Tell If Your Dog Is Depressed Or Just Lazy

You can tell if your dog is depressed or just lazy by luring them into activities they usually enjoy. If these dont excite them anymore and they give no interest, they might have depression. Because lazy dogs may get up from a sleep with the right motivation .

You could also tell if theyre hiding or avoiding people and other canines. This is because depressed dogs may withdraw from any interactions.

And this will happen for days. As well as excessive vocalizations such as whining and howling.

For further reading: Why is my dog so lazy?

Medications For Dog Depression

How to Know if Your Dog Is Depressed?  You Suppose to Know

If nothing else works, medications can help dogs get past their depression. Karen Sueda, DVM, a diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said medications for depressed dogs are the same as those used by depressed humans — Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. She also uses Clomicalm, an FDA approved drug for the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.


Its important that people deal with the problem before it gets too bad, Sueda said. By the time cases get to me, theyre bad. But most cases can be successfully treated early on with behavior modification and environmental enrichment, so it doesnt have to get to the point where we need to use drugs.

Beaver said it can take up to two months for drugs to become effective. But unlike people, who often remain on antidepressants for years, most dogs can get better in six to 12 months and then be taken off the drugs, she said.

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How Do You Cheer Up A Depressed Dog

You can cheer up a depressed dog by inviting them to fun activities and taking them out for morning walks.

Its also best to spend more time with them. And give them extra care and attention.

But, there are also some dogs who may not like cuddles. So respect their personal bubble and avoid smothering them.

Instead, show your care in other ways. Say, offering their favorite treats or buying them new toys.

How Do I Make My Depressed Dog Happy

There are a few ways to help your depressed dog.

Most important, stay positive yourself! Your dog reflects your mood, so if youâre happy, its much easier for your dog to be happy, too.

Also, spend as much time with him as possible. This doesnât need to be super active, snuggles on the couch are perfect. Just be there for him!

Whatâs also very helpful is socializing. Especially after losing a furry friend, engaging with other dogs can be highly beneficial for a depressed dog.

Otherwise, just try something new. Walk new routes, let him sniff as much as he wants, get him a new toy and so on. Try a couple of things and see what works.

Here are some more ideas.

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Warning Signs Of Dog Depression

And, of course, they can simply tell us that theyre not feeling good.

Our dogs dont have this option, but that doesnt mean that they cant feel sad or even depressed. While theres not as much research out there as there is for humans , all kinds of anecdotal evidence exists pointing to dog depression.

Some stories seem more obvious, such as a dog suddenly shutting down and sleeping all day in the back of a closet after another dog in the pack dies. Others arent quite as straightforward, where dog owners might notice moping or mood changes after something like a move.

So, how do you know if your pup is experiencing canine depression? Here are several common signs many of which are similar to signs of depression in people.

Ruling Out Pain Or An Underlying Medical Condition

How To Know If Your Dog Is Lonely And What To Do If They Are

The symptoms of depression are commonly similar to those displayed in a dog suffering from an underlying medical condition or chronic pain. Sometimes these can even be triggers for depression.

Dr. Sinn always encourages owners to have their dog medically evaluated to rule out any medical problems. In general, if a dog is slowing down or is reluctant to engage, especially in the absence of some life-changing event, then I would bet huge amounts of money that it is medical or pain-related, she says.

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Can Cats Get Depressed

Unlike people who can share their depressive feelings and triggers, cats rely on us to pick up their body language and symptoms. Changes in cat behavior can be caused by numerous things, from a stressful home environment to diseases.

In cats, depression is less of a chemical change in the brains neural circuits and more a symptom of a deeper issue. Finding a cause for depression in cats requires a little investigation by your veterinarian.

Keeping Your Dog Comfortable And Healthy Is The Best Way To Combat Depression

If you suspect that your pup is suffering from depression, make sure all their basic needs are being met. Give them warmth, healthy food, comfortable bedding, and plenty of attention. You should also make sure that your dog knows what to expect and how you want them to behave.

“When the owner provides a clear and stable set of balanced rules to live by, a dog gains a sense of security,” advised Jones.

“Maintaining a leadership-based style with the dog regardless of recent changes can help a great deal in my experience, as a routine provides emotional security.”

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Act Fast Dog Depression Symptoms

#1: Loss of appetite

Did you know that dogs and humans share similar genes?

One study found that gene similarity in both species relates to:

  • Diet.
  • Digestion.
  • Neurological processes.

This is why dogs suffer from some of the same diseases as humans. Plus the signs are similar too. This is the case with diabetes and breast cancer.

As well as mental illnesses. Such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.

So like humans, depressed dogs will also have reduced appetite.

They may start skipping meals or refuse to eat at all. And this is usually one of the first signs of an ailment.

So if you didnt change your dogs diet. Or if they were a hearty eater before

This definitely raises the alarm.

What to do?
  • Offering them irresistible snacks .

#2: Less water intake

Next, check if your pooch is drinking enough water. Because a sad dog may also drink less than usual.

And this is more dangerous than refusing to eat.


Not drinking enough water for days can result in dehydration.

And a dogs organs might collapse due to a lack of fluids in the body. Which might result in death.

So how much water do canines need daily?

For most dogs, PetMDs estimate is around 1 oz per body weight.

So, a 50-lbs canine should drink at least 50 oz a day.

Note: How to know if your dog is dehydrated or not? If they have moist gums and sparkling eyes, theres nothing to worry about. As well as if you pull a part of their skin and it quickly returns to its natural state.

#4: Inactivity

Your Dog Won’t Stop Licking Its Feet

How to Know if Your Dog is Depressed

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. Rossouw says, “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 in to a routine, and playing games with them to stimulate their mind.”

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Remove Stressors And Create Routine

If there is no medical reason for concern, you may need to investigate the environmental factors causing anxiety in your cat. For a sudden household change, do what you can to ease their anxiety until they adjust. Maintain a routine with added toys, snuggles, and treats to make your cat feel like they can overcome their grief.

#bonus: Maintain A Regular Schedule For Them

Depressed dogs may also be anxious due to sudden changes in their environment.

So what can you do to take away some of their worries?

Having a daily routine.

Any slight irregularities might cause your dog to feel unsafe and worry more.

So its best to stick to a schedule.

And let them know what theyre going to expect in a day. From start to finish .

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Helping Dogs Get Over Depression & Anxiety

Anxious or depressed dogs will typically benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction , and a consistent routine including lots of physical activity.

Below are a few more tips on how to help reduce your dog’s depression or anxiety:

See Your Vet

  • Some symptoms of depression and anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious or depressed is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs may recover from depression with just a little extra love and attention from their pet parent, your veterinarian can provide medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things dont show signs of improvement.

Keep Your Dog’s Body & Mind Active

  • Boredom can often lead our furry friends to become anxious or depressed. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy in order to help quell your dog’s anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your pup’s body and mind active while you’re out of the house.

Social Time

  • Domesticated dogs are social creatures that love to be around people and other animals. If your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression you may want to consider getting a companion animal for your pup or take your lonely pooch to the dog park, group classes or doggie daycare for additional social interaction.

Expose Them To More Sunlight

Depression in dogs – Symptoms and What to Do

Guess what, dogs can also suffer from winter blues.

Or seasonal affective disorder, a.k.a SAD. And it has the same signs as depression.

Its when canines sleep more and become less motivated.

And Stanley Coren, a famous psychologist, says its due to the lack of the hormone serotonin.

What does sunlight have to do with this?

Well, the release the hormones melatonin and serotonin is related to sunshine.

First, melatonin is produced when its dark.

This makes dogs sleepy. So less or no sunlight will produce more of this. Resulting in inactivity and oversleeping.

On the other hand, sunshine is needed to makeserotonin. A feel-good hormone that affects the mood and appetite of canines.

Like what we usually get by eating our comfort food. Such as ice cream and chocolate.

But dogs shouldnt have things like these. So the best way for them to get that feeling it is by exposing themselves to more sunlight.

What to do?

  • Place your dogs bedding near openings.
  • Roll up your window curtains to let in more sunlight.
  • Always take your dog for walks. Preferably 8 to 10 am to get safe morning sunshine. Because later than this can be too hot for their skin.

What if my dog refuses to go?

For pups and small dogs: Pick them up and distract them with treats/toys. Then stay outside where theres light for up to 20 minutes.

For bigger dogs: Try to lure them outside with a yummy treat . Or their favorite toy.

If they go out, dont force them to go any further.

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But Excessive Sleepiness Might Also Be A Sign That Something Is Wrong

Some dogs seem to spend all day napping, but you should take note when a formerly energetic pooch seems especially sleepy.

“I have seen some dogs that are mourning for the loss of a loved one be quite subdued and sleep more than would be expected,” Jones said.

If your dog has recently suffered the death of an owner or close human companion, be sure to take note of frequent napping. A dog that doesn’t seem to react to your presence or seems groggy throughout the day may need to be evaluated by a vet.

How To Cheer Up Your Sad Dog

Aside from their puppy dog face, which can be undeniably adorable, a sad dog is often a cause of concern. If your dog seems sad, it might mean he or she is not feeling well either emotionally or physically. In any case, do not ignore it! Like humans, a sad dog could be an indication of depression or it could be a symptom of a physical injury.

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How To Spot Signs Of Depression In Dogs

The symptoms of depression will vary depending on the individual dog and the severity of the problem. There are some key things to look out for, however, including changes in body language during their interactions with people and other pets, decreased appetite, and lethargic behavior.

Dr. Leslie Sinn runs Behavior Solutions and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and certified professional dog trainer.

The main thing would be a change in normal demeanor, she says. What I hear from most of my clients is that their dog is not that willing to engage in activities that previously they seemed to really enjoy.

She gives the example of a dog who normally loves to play fetch, but now they may play for one or two rounds then arent really that interested.

Dr. Sinn also lists other signs, including clingy, needy behavior, and, perhaps, a need to be closer to the owner in general. Some dogs, however, can go the other way and become excessively withdrawn.

Engage Them In Pleasurable Activities

How to know if your dog is depressed and what to do about ...

First, what do you need for this?

Having lots of patience. As well as paying close attention to your dog.

Getting them back on track might be hardat first. But if youre persistent , youll start to see some changes in them.

So, what activities has your dog loved to do before?

Is it hiking? Playing fetch? Tug-of-war?

Think about the things they used to enjoy in the past. And try to engage them in any of those.

But, spice it up a bit to increase your chances of attracting them.

For example, you can buy a new toy for them to catch. Or a different rope for your dog to tug.

Keep showing them new things and fun activities. And talk to them in your best dog voice.

Note: If you see any positive reaction from your dog , praise them. And give them rewards. May it be wagging their tail for a good few seconds. Or stomping their feet twice due to excitement.

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