Last Updated on January 6, 2023
Did you know that dogs can get depressed? Mental health isn’t exclusive to humans. Our pets can also experience depression and even anxiety.
Are you worried that your furry friend has been experiencing depression? Have you noticed some things that you think might be signs of it?
Dog depression doesn’t always present like human depression. They can’t tell you when they have a problem and you can’t take them to a psychiatrist. That said, some signs and symptoms are similar enough that you can notice them if you know where to look.
They’re Sleeping More Often
Dogs normally sleep more than humans do. Puppies can sleep up to twenty hours per day to help them grow and develop. Adult dogs, on the other hand, sleep up to fourteen hours per day.
This varies by dog, and only you know your dog’s specific sleeping habits. Have you noticed them changing?
Dogs who are depressed often sleep more. This isn’t dissimilar to a common sign of depression in humans. While sometimes sleeping more is normal (animals tend to sleep more in the darker and colder months, for example), it can also be a sign of depression or physical illness.
If you notice that your dog has been spending more time in bed, look out for other symptoms of depression.
They Don’t Want To Play
Dogs love playtime, especially when they’re young and spry. All dogs start to slow down when they get older, but it’s rare to turn down a fun game of fetch even if it’s only from one side of the living room to the other.
Has your otherwise playful pup lost interest in you and their toys?
A dog that doesn’t want to play is a problem. They need playtime in order to get a healthy amount of exercise, and a dog that isn’t interested is a bad sign.
Similar to the oversleeping problem, this is a sign of a mental or physical health problem if it lasts more than a few days.
Their Appetite Changes
Dogs need a lot of food to fuel their bodies when they’re active and playing all day. Their appetite is normally consistent, though, especially if nothing in their schedule has changed.
If your dog has been eating less, you should pay attention. Eating less can be a result of the lack of activity and increased sleep, but it can also present on its own.
Your dog may also eat more. Like humans, dogs can “comfort eat” as well.
This change in diet and appetite can lead to weight loss or weight gain. Sedentary dogs who eat too much are sure to gain weight. If they don’t eat enough, their weight loss will be noticeable.
Pay attention to your dog at mealtime.
They Start Over-Grooming
Dogs aren’t as prone to grooming themselves as cats are. They need frequent baths. That said, most dogs participate in some grooming.
When a dog is over-grooming though, it’s a sign of a problem.
Dogs who are distressed often spend too much time licking or biting their paws. While this won’t seem like a bad sign at first, this is a sign that they’re feeling anxious or otherwise unwell.
Dogs who are depressed may often lick other areas or scratch too much. This can break the skin or waste away their fur.
Pay attention to your dog’s grooming habits and discourage them from scratching or biting themselves until you have a grasp on the problem.
Our pets love being by our side. Dogs are social animals and they bond with their humans as if they were a part of the pack. It’s unusual if your dog decides to start spending more time alone.
Dogs, like humans, need some alone time. That said, if you’ve found that your dog no longer comes when they’re called when it’s playtime, or when food is being offered, it’s a sign that something is amiss.
When you have to go searching for your dog in the house, consider talking to a vet about dog depression.
What Should I Do About My Dog’s Depression Now?
So what should you do if you suspect that your dog is depressed? You have a few options.
First, try to figure out the cause. Animal depression is more common to come from an external source rather than a chemical imbalance in the brain. Why is your dog feeling sad?
One of the most common causes of dog depression is an underlying illness or injury. Animals don’t show when they don’t feel well. In nature, this would be a sign of weakness. Instead, the signs are more subtle.
Look for other signs of illness such as coughing, weakness, weepy eyes, or vomiting. The appetite change could come from nausea or stomach pain.
If you don’t think that illness or injury is the answer, consider other conditions that have changed. Has a pet or family member recently left the home? Dogs don’t understand why their family members leave. This can cause their depression.
In this case, consider taking your dog to visit the missing members if possible. If it’s not, consider getting a new dog (if it’s possible).
Also, consider how much time that you’re spending at home or playing with them. We understand that you have a busy life, but is that busy life causing you to spend less time with your furry friend?
We don’t always have the time to devote to our animals. This is another occasion where bringing in a new pet can help, or you can have someone check in on your dog throughout the day. You can also take your dog to a doggie daycare where they can play with other dogs!
Are You Worried About Dog Depression?
Dog depression should be taken as seriously as human depression. If your furry friend isn’t happy it’s time to help.
Whether you’re bringing a new friend into the house, fixing an underlying physical problem, or getting friends or professionals to care for your dog when you’re not around, there are plenty of ways to help your pet.