Why Do Dogs Suffer From Depression?

Posted by Belinda Bird on

We all know that dogs can suffer from anxiety and either have a dog with anxiety or know someone with a suffering dog, but can they get depression just like we do?


The simple answer is.... YES! But not to the extent that us humans do. Dogs feel many of the same emotions is us. Happiness, excitement, anger, anxiety, hunger, thirst, and the list goes on... 


It is hard enough to recognise depression in our dogs, let alone help them through it. We have done the research to help you identify if your dog is depressed, why and what you can do to ease their mental anguish. 


Signs to look out for:

  • Is he/she not greeting you at the door with their tail wagging, excited and showing a doggy smile from ear to ear, like normal?
  • Is he/she eating less than normal and has an unusually reduced appetite?  
  • Moping around more than normal. Sleeping more, not coming to you for attention like you are both used to? 
  • Not as playful as normal around other dogs or walks? 
  • Unusual behavior such as excessive licking, hiding or changes in sleeping habits?


Causes of depression in dogs:

  • The first step is to have your dog checked by a Veterinarian. As with any symptoms, they can be caused by a range of problems. 
  • The loss of their best friend, whether it be another pet in your house or a family member. This is the most common cause. Pets grieve just like we do, hard to believe for some but it is true, we have seen this countless times. 
  • Sudden changes in the household, such as the introduction of a newborn baby. 
  • Boredom and a lack of purpose can also be causes. 


What can you do?

  • If you think your dog is suffering from depression, the first step is still to have them seen by a Veterinarian to rule out any underlying conditions or problems. 
  • If your dog is depressed, the best thing you can do is give them some solid TLC. Show your affection and display to them that their affection is appreciated by you and your family. 
  • Reward signs of happiness by giving a treat or lots of praise when your dog shows excitement. This re-enforces that it is good to show happy behaviour. 
  • Get outdoors.... take him/her on walks. Sunshine is not just healing and energizing for us, but also for animals. Go do the things that he/she loves to do. 
  • Feed good quality food. Think about how your emotions fluctuate when you are eating foods that are highly processed or low in nutrition. Dogs are no different, feeding a poor diet will lower their energy levels, reduce their want to play or exercise and potentially cause weight gain. 
  • Excercise with a purpose... this means creating opportunities for your dog to exercise while being rewarded. This can be through providing raw bones for him/her to chew on, or toys that incorporate food inside them that require effort to extract the goodies.


What if none of these are helping?

  • If you have tried everything listed above and your sad pooch's personality is still not picking up, we recommend to seek the advice of your Veterinarian again or a Canine Behaviourist. Dogs generally move through this phase reasonably fast but some can take longer. Don't expect him/her to be back to normal within a few days, but if you have not had any improvement for a few weeks, then further intervention may be necessary. 
  • Just remember that at the end of the day, the one thing that your dog wants more than anything is your love and affection. For a lot of dogs, this in itself is enough to turn their frown, upside down. 


If you have had a dog suffering from depression and have either found the techniques listed above to be useful, or you have found something different that has worked, we would love to hear from you. You can either comment on this article or send us a message to info@innatepets.com.au. 


Have a wonderful day!

All the team at Innate Pets 



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