As much as we think about our dog’s physical health— ensuring that they are eating a healthy diet, are exercising enough, and are staying groomed— we should also be concerned with their mental health. So, one of the biggest questions to ask in regards to their mental state is: “can dogs get depressed?”
Like humans, dogs are prone to feel sad sometimes. They show their feelings by not wanting to participate in any of their once favorite activities: eating, playing or barking. All they want to do is just mope around. Although it is difficult to scientifically define these slumps as doggy depression, these episodes are still a real issue many dog owners face.
Let’s take a closer look at what depression in dogs looks like, what are some of the causes, and some possible ways you can turn your pup’s frown upside down.
Can Dogs Get Depressed?
Yes, dogs can get depressed. Although this depression is not exactly clinical, as it can be with humans, there are some similarities. When a dog is depressed, this can lead to dramatic weight loss, constant napping, and other severe health issues. Most of the time, canine depression only lasts for a short period, but it is a case-by-case basis.
What is Dog Depression?
Like human depression, dog depression is the intense and constant feeling of sadness that can lead to a loss of interest in your dog’s daily activities, such as eating and exercising. However, it is difficult to know how hard depression hits a dog’s mental health because they cannot communicate their thoughts in words with us.
The only thing we can speculate about dog depression is the signs that they show, such as differences in a dog’s mood, the lack of eating, withdrawal from social interactions, and constant sleeping.
Depending on the root cause of the depression and your dog’s personality, these episodes can linger for various amounts of time. Depression usually occurs for dogs when there are major life changes, loss of a companion, and other factors.
What Are the Causes of Dog Depression?
There are several potential causes for your dog feeling a bit down. The main reason dogs may suffer from depression is due to changes in their lifestyle. Dogs have a very peculiar routine, and any disruption to this routine, such as environmental changes, weather changes, loss of a companion, and a variety of other factors can lead to intense feelings of sadness.
Environmental changes can refer to anything that changes a dog’s simple way of life. This can be things such as moving to a new home, a family member moving out, or the arrival of a new baby. These are all new shifts in your dog’s life that they’ll need time to adjust too, and sometimes it can bring about some intense feelings of sadness.
Schedule or Routine Changes
Dogs are very habitual creatures and enjoy sticking to a routine. So when any disruption or schedule shift occurs, this can easily cause a change in your dog’s mood. Especially if the change is abrupt, their mood will quickly change as well.
This is a fairly common cause for your dog to feel sad and may occur quite regularly. If you have to go to work every day and leave your dog by themselves, they can experience separation anxiety and feel lonely to the extent of them thinking you’re never going to return. Over time, this chronic separation can lead to dog depression.
Your Own Emotions
Dogs are rather emotional creatures and are keen to picking up on the emotions of others fairly well. So if you begin to express increased negative or positive emotions, your dog can easily draw upon your negativity, resulting in them experiencing those same emotions with you. Your dog doesn’t necessarily even need to know what the root of the problem is.
As deeply compassionate creatures, all they have to see is that something is affecting you.
Like humans, the weather and season changes can affect the mood and emotions of your dogs as well. If you live in an area where rain is not common, and a sudden storm makes it a bit gloomy, this can alter your dog’s mood.
Alternatively, if the sun is out and your dog is allowed to be outside, this can drastically change their mood too.
Getting used to a major life change takes time, especially with the loss of a companion. Whether they lost another dog or a human companion, this change can heavily influence a dog’s depression. Animals create strong bonds with one another, so it is never easy to lose one of their friends.
Long Term Illness or Pain
Any sort of injury or long-term pain that your dog may be experiencing can also lead to depression. Since they are unable to move about their body in ways they used to, this causes your dog to feel frustrated and sad.
What Are the Symptoms of Dog Depression?
Dogs tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, or fur, rather. Meaning you can usually tell how they feel at any given moment. When they are excited they can be wagging their tails, jumping all over you. And if they are sad, they may behave in the opposite manner — moping around and keeping to themselves.
Here are some symptoms to look for since dogs can get depressed:
Different Sleeping Habits
If you were not aware, your dog is most likely asleep when you are not around. But the second you walk through the door, they have a sudden burst of energy and are excited to see you. However, if you notice that your dog is sleeping more than usual and is not as energetic as you are used to seeing, there may be something wrong.
Excessive Licking or Chewing
Similar to when humans chew their nails or have jitters, a dog can express their depression through excessive licking or chewing their nails. When a dog is going through a depressive state, they may try to find little things for comfort, such as licking and chewing themselves.
Loss of Interest
Dogs, especially younger ones, are packed-full of excitement. So if you use your falsetto to ask if your dog wants to go on a walk or if they want a treat, and you receive no response, your dog might be feeling a bit sad.
Similar to how we deal with depressive episodes, dogs may become uninterested in food when depressed. This can lead to fluctuation in weight and potentially other health issues. Especially if you know that your dog enjoys treats and they decline your offer, your dog might be feeling depressed.
Retreating or Hiding
Another common symptom of a dog’s depression is when they tend to hide away or retreat to be alone. Sometimes when we are feeling down, all we want to do is isolate ourselves from the world so no one can bother us. This is similar to dogs when they are feeling blue and do not want to interact with anyone.
If you know that your dog usually has a high amount of energy when you are around, but as of late, this energy is lacking, they could be feeling down. Usually, you can sense your pup’s personality or spunk in how they interact with you, but this may change when they feel a little depressed.
Can Dog Depression Be Treated?
Yes! Although it is sad to see your pet feeling down, there are a number of ways you can get your dog feeling more like themselves. Keep on scrolling to find out!
What Can You Do to Help a Depressed Dog?
Some of these techniques are similar to those that work on humans, such as going outside, meeting with friends, and giving yourself a treat. Below we’ve provided some holistic alternatives in boosting your pup’s mood.
Get Some More Sunshine
If the weather is right, take your pet out more often. You can take your dog for an extra-long walk, take them out for a drive, or just sit outside on the patio. Sitting out in the sun can promote the release of serotonin and is a natural mood enhancer. The sunlight is a natural method to intake vitamin D and is an excellent way to enjoy some fresh air.
Providing your dog with a bit of CBD can work wonders on your dog’s mood. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound that works with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps regulate the body’s mood, appetite, sleep, and other bodily functions.
Treating your dog with some CBD treats can help reduce stress, improving their mood if they can get depressed. At Healthy Petables, our dog treats are 100% organic and vegan-friendly ingredients, non-GMO, and have no THC, so don’t worry, your dog won’t feel “high.”
Make New Friends
Just as if we were feeling a bit down, calling a friend or hanging out with someone could help improve our mood. Consider going to a dog park. Socializing with other dogs might help them feel a bit better.
One thing to keep in mind about your dog if they get depressed is that it is usually short-term. Although it can be difficult to see your pet in a depressive mood, knowing that it will not last forever is encouraging. The most you can do is to be patient with them for as long as it may take.
Give A Little Extra Love
Sometimes all your little pup needs in their depression is a little bit of extra love. Whether it’s cuddling up next to them on the couch or giving them a little more attention than usual, sometimes all they want is to know that everything is going to be okay.
Final Thoughts – Can Dogs Get Depressed
As any pet owner, it always hurts to see our dog get down and depressed. However, there are many ways to help your dog cheer up and get Whether you provide your dog with some CBD or a longer walk in the park than usual, there are plenty of ways to get your pup feeling happy again in no time.