All you need to know about depression in dogs

Just as people, dogs can get depressed. Learn what are the causes of depression, how to spot the signs of it and what you can do to help your dog cope and begin feeling better by reading this article.

English bulldog 9 week puppy shutterstock_43681333


Dogs live very emotional lives. You can see this demonstrated in many ways, from good and bad behavior to affectionate play to the “Velcro dog” syndrome, in which your pet will not leave your side, so attached is she to your presence

When pets experience a sudden change, it upsets the balance in their lives, just as it does in ours. The loss of another dog, or the dog next door who moves away or of a beloved human who left home can be a large emotional change for a dog. Even a change inthe weather can set off a mild bout of the blues, especially for a dog who loves to play outside. The severity of the depression can vary greatly, depending on the dog and her ability to cope, just like humans!

According to Bonnie Beaver, DVM, symptoms of canine depression typically include:

  • Becoming withdrawn – A depressed dog may stop interacting with his companions, including his special people and other dogs in the home.
  • Becoming inactive – The dog might no longer show any interest in taking walks or playing. He might also tend to move slower and not seem to have much purpose to his wandering.
  • Changes in appetite – The dog might lose his appetite, and this could lead to weight loss. Alternatively, a depressed dog might eat more and begin to gain weight.
  • Changes in sleep habits – Depressed dogs tend to sleep more, but some may become more restless and unable to sleep well.

  What should you do now..? First of all no panic… there are also good news since most dogs overcome depression on their own. This can take days to months, and is often helped along by the love and care that you show to your dog! Here are some tips to help your dog overcome depression:

  • Offer your dog more attention, but at the right times. Never praise your dog if he/she  seems to be feeling particularly glum. Instead, wait until you see some sign of happiness and reward for that behavior.
  • Keep your dog active and entertained with regular walks, playtimes, and any special activities that you know they enjoy. For example, if your dog loves to play frisbee, start doing it more often, and offer praise when you see that your dog is having a good time.
  • If your dog is experiencing depression due to the loss of an animal companion, consider getting another pet, but only if it makes sense for your situation. Alternatively, a lonely dog may feel better with more frequent visits to the park, socialization with friends’ or neighbors’ dogs, doggie day care, or training classes where dogs mix and mingle.
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