Does your furry friend ever seem down in the dumps? Just like humans, dogs experience a wide range of emotions. It’s important for us to look out for our dog’s wellbeing, as their mood often indicates underlying problems. Make sure you know the signs of a depressed dog.

It’s not unusual for a dog to exhibit symptoms of depression after a big life change such as moving to a new house, bringing home a baby or the loss of another pet. When you can’t pinpoint the reason behind their change of mood, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the veterinarian for a checkup, as mood changes can sometimes indicate something is wrong physically.

If everything checks out and your pup doesn’t have any physical ailments, you may have a depressed dog on your hands. The purpose of this article is to explain the science behind depression in dogs, symptoms to look out for and remedies to help improve their mood.

Depression & Dogs

Depression & Dogs

While the symptoms of depression in dogs are similar to those in humans, it’s uncertain what biological process cause doggy depression. Even in humans with clinical depression, not a lot is understood about the physiology of the condition; no biological test can yet detect depression for diagnostic purposes. Rather, when it comes too diagnosing depression in a person, we rely on speaking with the patient to gather a history of symptoms.

With a dog, however, you can’t just ask how they’re feeling. We simply observe their behavior to determine whether the symptoms match up and whether their behavior can be pointing to an underlying problem. According to Bonnie Beaver, DVM, Executive Director for the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, “It’s hard to know [if dogs suffer from depression the way people do] because we can’t ask them. But in clinical practice, there are a few situations where that is the only explanation.”

In humans, depression is typically categorized as either situational or general. Situational depression is caused by outside influences, such as a relative dying, job loss or divorce. General depression has a more biological component, and can strike those prone to depressive episodes at any point, whether life is going smoothly or not.

Veterinarians presently believe that depression in dogs is almost always situational and short-lived. It is rare for dogs to suffer from long-term depressive episodes.

Dogs are incredibly intuitive when it comes to their owner’s mood. Not only can they read our facial expressions, they can detect changes in our body chemistry. According to Carol Sumbry, a certified dog trainer and associate certified behavior consultant, “Dogs are being used to detect low blood sugar in diabetics, as well as cancer. They certainly can tune into people and our subtle changes in body language and emotion so that they can be impacted by a family member’s depression. We can’t fool our dogs. They are very in tune with our emotions.”

10 Signs of a Depressed Dog

10 Signs of a Depressed Dog

Just like our dogs are in tune with us, we should be able to detect changes in their emotions. If you think your dog may have depression, consider the following signs:

1. Changes in Appetite

2. Changes in Sleep

3. Loss of Interest

4. Hiding

5. Excessive Licking/Chewing

6. Potty Accidents in the House

7. Aggression

8. Disorientation

9. Howling/Whining

10. Anxiety

Remedies & Cures

Remedies & Cures

Although a veterinarian can give you tips for helping your dog deal with depression, there are remedies you can try at home first:

Give Them Attention

Create a Routine

Reward Good Behavior

Consider Getting a Companion

Keep Them Company



Our dogs depend on us to care for their total well-being, both physically and emotionally. If your dog is showing signs of depression, take the time to analyze their behavior and determine what underlying factors may be at play. Make sure to consult a veterinarian to rule out medical causes as well as to learn the best tips for helping your pup feel their best.

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