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How To Tell If Your Dog Is Depressed



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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As loving pet owners, it’s essential to be attuned to our dog’s emotional well-being. Just like humans, dogs can experience depression, which may manifest as a change in behavior or mood.

Recognizing the signs of depression in your canine companion is crucial for addressing the issue and providing the necessary support to help them overcome this challenging phase.

In this guide, we will explore the common indicators of depression in dogs and offer insights into understanding your dog’s emotional state, enabling you to take the right steps toward restoring their happiness and mental health.

This article contains:

Key Takeaway

Key Signs of Dog DepressionDescription
Loss of Interest in ActivitiesA sudden disinterest in activities they used to enjoy, such as playing with toys or going for walks.
Sleeping More Than UsualIncreased sleep duration and frequency, along with lethargy and a lack of interest in surroundings.
Ignoring PlaytimeRefusal to interact with people or other animals, not responding when called, or showing interest in being petted.
Leaving Food In Its BowlLoss of appetite, resulting in food being left uneaten after meals.
Licking ExcessivelyExcessive licking is a coping mechanism for anxiety or depression, which may lead to self-harm.
Withdrawn BehaviorBecoming withdrawn, avoiding social situations, and hiding away from family members.
Change In Eating And/or Sleeping HabitsChanges in appetite, weight, activity levels, and sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or excessive sleeping.
Refusal To Go For WalksDecreased excitement and happiness, leading to a reluctance to go on walks or engage in previously enjoyed activities.

Can Dogs Get Depressed?

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Depressed

Yes, dogs can get depressed. Similar to humans, dogs can experience a range of emotions, including sadness and depression.

Depression in dogs may be triggered by various factors such as changes in their environment, the loss of a companion (human or animal), physical illness, or a lack of mental stimulation and social interaction.

It’s essential to observe your dog’s behavior and mood to identify any signs of depression.

Some common indicators include lethargy, loss of appetite, changes in sleeping patterns, reduced interest in play or other activities, and increased isolation or clinginess.

If you suspect your dog is experiencing depression, consult with a veterinarian or a professional behaviorist to determine the cause and develop an appropriate course of action to help your canine companion overcome their emotional struggles.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Depressed

If you’re worried that your dog may be depressed, there are some key signs to look out for.

It’s important to remember that the symptoms of depression will vary depending on the individual dog and the severity of the problem.

Loss of Interest in Activities

One of the most common signs of depression in dogs is a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. This could include playing with toys, going for walks, or interacting with other people or animals. If your dog has suddenly stopped participating in activities they used to love, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

Sleeping More Than Usual

Another common symptom of depression in dogs is sleeping more than usual. Dogs who are feeling down may sleep longer hours than usual or take more frequent naps throughout the day. They may also seem lethargic and uninterested in their surroundings.

Ignoring Playtime

Depressed dogs may also ignore playtime and refuse to interact with people or other animals. They may not respond when called or show any interest in being petted or played with. This can be a sign that something is wrong and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Leaving Food In Its Bowl

If your dog is leaving food in its bowl after meals, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Dogs who are feeling down may lose their appetite and stop eating as much as they normally would. If this behavior continues for an extended period of time, it’s important to seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Licking Excessively

Excessive licking can also be a sign that your dog is feeling down. Dogs who are feeling anxious or depressed may lick themselves excessively as a way to cope with their emotions. It’s important to pay attention to this behavior and make sure your dog isn’t engaging in self-harm due to its emotional state.

Withdrawn Behavior

Dogs who are feeling down may become withdrawn and uninterested in interacting with people or other animals around them. They may hide away from family members or avoid social situations altogether. If you notice your dog exhibiting these behaviors, it’s important to seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist right away so they can get the help they need to feel better again.

Change In Eating And/or Sleeping Habits

Depression can cause changes in eating and sleeping habits, which can manifest itself through weight loss, increased appetite, changes in activity levels, and changes in sleep patterns such as difficulty falling asleep at night or excessive sleeping during the day. It’s important to keep an eye out for these changes so you can address them before they become more serious problems for your pup.

Refusal To Go For Walks

Depressed dogs often have a decreased sense of excitement and happiness which might show itself through their refusal to go on walks – something which was once enjoyed before their depression set it. If you notice this kind of behavior from your pup, it’s important to talk to your vet about ways you can help them feel better again soon!

What Causes Depression In Dogs?

Here are some things that cause depression in dogs:

Loss of a Companion

Dogs can experience grief and sadness when a beloved human or animal companion passes away or is separated from them for an extended period.

Changes in Environment

Moving to a new home, changes in the household dynamic, or significant disruptions in routine can lead to stress and depression in dogs.

Physical Illness or Pain

When a dog is experiencing chronic pain or suffering from an illness, it can negatively impact their mood and overall well-being, potentially leading to depression.

Lack of Mental Stimulation

Dogs require physical exercise and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Boredom or lack of engagement can contribute to feelings of depression in dogs.

Lack of Social Interaction

Dogs are social animals that thrive on interaction with humans and other animals. Prolonged isolation or insufficient socialization can lead to depression in dogs.

Aging and Cognitive Decline

As dogs age, they may experience cognitive decline, which can result in confusion, anxiety, and depression.

Stress and Anxiety

Chronic stress or anxiety, often caused by factors such as separation anxiety, fear, or trauma, can contribute to depression in dogs.

How Can We Treat Depression in Our Dogs?

Treating depression in dogs requires a combination of understanding the underlying cause, providing emotional support, and making appropriate changes to their environment and lifestyle.

Here are some steps you can take to help your dog overcome depression:

Consult a Veterinarian

If you suspect your dog is depressed, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be contributing to their mood changes.

Increase Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Ensure your dog gets regular physical exercise and mental stimulation through play, training, and interactive toys. This will help release endorphins, alleviate boredom, and promote overall well-being.

Provide Social Interaction

Make sure your dog has opportunities to interact with other dogs and people. Arrange playdates, visit dog parks, or consider enrolling your dog in a daycare facility to provide socialization opportunities.

Establish a Routine

Dogs thrive on routines, so try to maintain a consistent schedule for meals, walks, and playtime. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, which may be contributing to depression.

Offer Comfort and Attention

Spend quality time with your dog, providing affection, praise, and reassurance. This can help strengthen your bond and offer emotional support during difficult times.

Consider Professional Help

If your dog’s depression persists, consult with a professional behaviorist or a certified dog trainer. They can help identify the underlying cause of the depression and provide personalized guidance on addressing the issue.


In some cases, a veterinarian may prescribe medication to help manage your dog’s depression. This is typically used as a short-term solution and should be combined with behavioral interventions and environmental changes.

How Can You Cheer Up a Depressed Dog?

Here are some great ways to cheer up a depressed dog:

Provide Extra Attention and Affection

Giving your dog extra attention and affection can help lift their spirits. Spend quality time together, petting, cuddling, and talking to your dog in a soothing voice. This will strengthen your bond and provide emotional support during difficult times.

Engage in Fun Activities

Engage your dog in fun activities that they enjoy, such as playing fetch, going for walks, or exploring new locations. This will help take their mind off their worries and provide positive experiences to boost their mood.

Encourage Socialization

Arrange playdates with other dogs or take your dog to a local dog park where they can interact with other pets and people. Socializing with others can help combat feelings of loneliness and provide mental stimulation.

Maintain a Consistent Routine

Establishing a consistent daily routine will provide stability and predictability, helping to reduce stress and anxiety. Make sure to include regular meal times, walks, and play sessions in this routine.

Offer Interactive Toys and Puzzles

Provide interactive toys and puzzles to keep your dog mentally stimulated and engaged. These activities can help prevent boredom and alleviate feelings of depression.

Consider Aromatherapy or Calming Scents

Using calming scents like lavender or chamomile can have a soothing effect on your dog. You can use a diffuser or specially designed dog-calming products to create a relaxing environment for your pet.

Consult with a Professional

If your dog’s depression persists despite your efforts, consult with a veterinarian, professional behaviorist, or certified dog trainer. They can help identify the underlying cause of the depression and provide personalized guidance on addressing the issue.

When To Seek Help For Dog Depression?

If you notice that your furry friend is acting differently – sleeping more than usual, showing less interest in activities they once enjoyed, or experiencing significant weight loss or gain – it might be time to seek help.

However, it is essential to rule out any medical conditions beforehand, and a visit to the vet is highly recommended. If no underlying health issues are found, it’s likely that your dog might be suffering from depression.

In this case, it’s essential to provide them with extra attention, love, and care. If you notice that your dog is not responding to your attempts to cheer them up, professional help might be required.

A dog behaviorist or a qualified vet can help you find the root of the problem and provide you with effective solutions that can help your furry friend recover.

Depression in dogs can be triggered by various reasons, such as a change in routine, separation anxiety, or a traumatic experience. The earlier you seek help, the better it is for your dog’s overall well-being. Remember, a happy and healthy dog equals a happy and healthy home!

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Depressed?

To prevent your dog from getting depressed, it’s important to provide a healthy and supportive environment that caters to their physical, mental, and emotional needs. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent depression in your dog:

Provide Regular Exercise

Ensure your dog gets adequate exercise tailored to its age, breed, and energy levels. Physical activity helps release endorphins, which can improve mood and overall well-being.

Offer Mental Stimulation

Engage your dog in mentally stimulating activities, such as training, playing with interactive toys, or engaging in scent work. This will help prevent boredom and keep their mind sharp.

Establish a Consistent Routine

Maintain a consistent daily routine that includes regular meal times, walks, and play sessions. Predictable schedules can help reduce stress and anxiety, contributing to a more balanced emotional state.

Encourage Socialization

Expose your dog to different environments, people, and other animals from a young age. Regular socialization helps build confidence, reduces the risk of anxiety, and promotes emotional stability.

Provide a Balanced Diet

Feed your dog a balanced and nutritious diet to support their overall health. A healthy diet can have a positive impact on your dog’s mood and energy levels.

Monitor Changes in the Environment

Be attentive to any changes in your dog’s environment or routine that could cause stress or anxiety. If necessary, introduce changes gradually and provide extra support during transitions.

Provide Emotional Support

Build a strong bond with your dog by spending quality time together, offering affection, praise, and reassurance. A strong emotional connection can help your dog feel secure and less prone to depression.

Regular Veterinary Checkups

Schedule regular veterinary checkups to monitor your dog’s health and address any potential medical issues early on. Health problems can contribute to depression, so maintaining good physical health is essential for emotional well-being.

Is There Medication for Dog Depression?


Q: What are the signs of depression in dogs?

A: Dogs can show signs of depression in many ways. Common symptoms include decreased activity level, loss of appetite, changes in sleeping habits, lack of interest in favorite activities, excessive licking or chewing of paws, and increased neediness or clinginess. It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, so it’s important to consult a veterinarian to rule out any possible health issues.

Q: How can I tell if my dog is depressed?

A: If you notice a sudden change in your dog’s behavior, such as a lack of interest in things they used to love or increased lethargy, it could be a sign of depression. Dogs may also become more withdrawn or show signs of anxiety, such as pacing or restlessness. It’s important to keep an eye on your pup’s behavior and consult a veterinarian if you suspect they may be suffering from depression.

Q: Can dogs experience depression and anxiety-like humans?

A: Yes, dogs can experience depression and anxiety much like humans. They may feel sad, lonely, or stressed and exhibit behavior changes as a result. It’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and seek the help of a veterinarian if you suspect they may be experiencing mental health issues.

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

A: If you think your dog may be depressed, the first step is to schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help your dog feel better. In addition to veterinary care, providing mental stimulation and taking your dog on walks or to the dog park can also help improve their mood.

Q: Can adding another pet to the household help a depressed dog?

A: In some cases, introducing another dog to the household can help a depressed dog feel less lonely and more social. However, it’s important to take careful consideration before adding another pet to your household and ensure that your current dog is comfortable with the new addition. Consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to help determine if adding another pet is the right choice for your dog’s mental health.

Q: Are there any specific symptoms to look for in a dog suffering from depression?

A: Along with general symptoms such as lethargy and loss of appetite, dogs suffering from depression may also exhibit symptoms such as excessive whining or crying, hiding or avoiding interaction with their owners, and aggressive behavior towards other dogs or people. If you notice any concerning behavior changes in your dog, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian for advice.

Q: Can mental stimulation help a dog with depression?

A: Yes, engaging your dog in mentally stimulating activities such as puzzle toys or training sessions can help improve their mood and relieve symptoms of depression. Additionally, regular exercise and taking your dog to new environments like a dog park or hiking trail can also provide a mental boost and improve their overall well-being.

Q: Can depression and anxiety in dogs be treated?

A: Yes, depression and anxiety in dogs can be treated with a combination of veterinary care, behavior modification, and medication if necessary. It’s important to work with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your dog’s specific needs. In many cases, creating a safe and comforting environment and providing plenty of mental and physical stimulation can also help improve your dog’s mood.

Q: Can a new baby in the household cause dog depression?

A: The arrival of a new baby in the household can sometimes cause stress and behavior changes in dogs, but it’s not always a direct cause of depression. If you’re concerned about how your dog may react to a new baby, it’s important to introduce them gradually and provide plenty of positive reinforcement. Consulting with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist can also help ensure a smooth transition for both your dog and your new baby.

Q: Can dogs get depression or anxiety from being alone too much?

A: Yes, dogs that are left alone for long periods of time may become bored or lonely, which can lead to depression and anxiety. It’s important to provide your dog with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Ensure that they have regular opportunities to socialize with other dogs and people. If you’re unable to provide the attention and stimulation your dog needs, consider hiring a dog walker or enrolling them in doggy daycare to help alleviate their loneliness.

In Conclusion

Being able to identify the signs of depression in your dog is essential for ensuring their emotional well-being.

By paying close attention to changes in their behavior, mood, and daily activities, you can better understand their emotional state and take appropriate action.

Remember that consulting a veterinarian or a professional behaviorist may be necessary to address any underlying medical or psychological issues.

By offering your love, support, and patience, you can help your furry friend overcome their depression.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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