Why Is My Dog Depressed?
We know dogs to be cheerful, happy, and positive pets and creatures altogether, but out of the blue, you may have noticed your pooch feeling extremely out of it. They suddenly prefer not to play, and they don’t get excited when you give them food.
As a pet owner, you begin to get worried sick about what’s going on with your dog. You may begin to wonder: is my dog depressed?
Can dogs get depressed? How can I tell? In this article, we will explore reasons why your dog may be depressed and signs to help you tell if your furry friend is feeling down.
Can Dogs Be Depressed?
The shortest answer to this is yes. Dogs can get depressed. But unlike humans, they simply don’t have the capability to tell us exactly how they are feeling. So, it is important to be wary of the signs so you know when your pet needs extra love and care to help them get back to their cheerful self.
Depression in Dogs
Depression is not something that only humans may go through. In fact, like previously mentioned, it can affect dogs to a certain extent, too.
A lot like how we experience this specific mood disorder, we may notice our furry friends go through most of the similar signs too. Symptoms of depression in dogs can include:
- Low energy
- Sleep very little or too much
- Withdraw from others
- Loss of appetite
It may be difficult for us to believe at times that our cheerful companions could go through this. But, it is important for us to be mindful of our dog’s normal state, so we know when they need us to help them get through this turmoil.
Causes of Dog Depression
A variety of factors could make an impact on your dog’s mental and emotional states. A few of these could be changes to their routine, or a new environment or social group. It could also be stress or anxiety from their phobias or extreme changes in their lifestyle.
Apart from these, dogs can also pick up on extreme grief and stress that others around them feel. They may also get stressed out by a sudden lack of attention they usually receive from others, most especially from their owners.
Some more specific events that may be the cause of your dog’s low spirits include:
- Extreme changes to their daily routine
- Moving to a new home
- Introducing new people into their family (like a baby, a spouse, or even a new pet)
- Recent traumatic incident (an injury, for example)
There may be cases or instances where your dog’s depression comes as a secondary sign of a deeper underlying condition. If it happens that your dog has not experienced any of the major life events mentioned above but still exhibit signs of depression, it may be best to pay a visit to the vet to get them checked out.
Symptoms of Dog Depression
When dogs feel extremely down, they often lose interest in food and consequently lose some weight. They may show lack of interest in their meals if they typically get excited for it and eat very little or not eat at all.
Alternately, there could be dogs who choose to wolf down on food and eat excessively to comfort themselves. This could be a cause for weight gain.
Sleeping All the Time or Too Little
Dogs love to take naps, this much is true. Much of this happens during the day, when you are most likely out or gone for work and other human tasks, but if after a long day you notice that your dog is still asleep, chances are something is going on with them.
On the same page, if they don’t get up from their nap when you arrive and barely react to you getting back, then it can be assumed that something is wrong. This also goes if they typically get up to greet visitors or pay attention to people or other animals that pass by them.
Alternatively, your dog may also show signs of restlessness and not be asleep during times you know they typically take naps.
Loss of Interest
Another sign your dog may be depressed is if they show a sudden lack of interest in activities and things that usually excite them. They may lose enthusiasm for play, going out for walks, and their other favorite things.
Dogs lick their paws as a form of mechanism to provide soothing for them. If you notice your dog chewing or licking on their paws excessively, there may be something going on with them that causes discomfort physically or psychologically.
It could be an indicator of displeasure or lack of happiness if their excessive paw-licking turns into a habit.
Avoidance and Hiding
Avoidance and hiding in dogs usually indicate a couple of things: injury or illness. Depression in this case falls under illness.
Dogs who suddenly want to isolate themselves and hide from company may be doing so because something displeases them. If you notice your dog do this a lot, try to check around for physical things that may cause stress to your dog, but if you find nothing unusual, they may be exhibiting a sign of depression.
Why Do Dogs Get Depressed?
Dogs are typically creatures of habit and major changes or distressing events (like a loss of their owner or an animal friend) could bring upon serious emotional shifts like depression.
How Do I Comfort My Depressed Dog?
To cheer up your unhappy dog, it is important as their owner that you show up for them. A little extra affection could go a long way.
Offer lots of encouragement and patience for them as they go through this turmoil. Take them out on walks or let them sit under the sun with nature.
You also may find interest in taking them to dog parks where they can socialize with other pups and allow them to make new furry friends.
You can also provide a sense of stability and security for your dog by keeping and maintaining a routine. Your unhappy pup may be comforted by knowing that mealtimes and walks happen at the same period of time daily. Dogs are creatures of habit, and may feel jarred by sudden changes in their daily lives.
One important thing to remember when examining atypical behavior in your dogs is to not immediately jump to the conclusion that they may be straight up depressed.
To be sure about what really is going on in your dog, it is important to rule out factors first and pay attention to their behavior, especially if symptoms seem to come out of nowhere where no significant changes in your dog’s life could be identified.
If your dog exhibits the signs mentioned above frequently or in high degrees, it may be best to consult a vet as something much more serious may be bothering your furry friend.