Humans aren’t the only ones who can fall into the doldrums. Learn the warning signs of a depressed dog and how you can get them out of their funk.
Major depression is one of the most common issues in the US today. But while many people may deal with depression, not many people realize that their pets can have depression as well. But they can, and they can feel it every bit as deeply as we can.
But because they can’t speak to us and tell us what’s wrong, it can often be hard to tell when you have a depressed dog. Even worse, treating depression in dogs isn’t as easy either because the symptoms can be significant of so many other things.
If you think your dog may be depressed, keep reading. We’re going to lay out the signs of a depressed dog, what can cause doggie depression, and how you can fix it.
Can Dogs Get Depressed?
Dogs, just like humans, have moods that they go through. But depression is more than just a bad mood, it’s a chemical imbalance in our brains. Depression can be situational or general, meaning that it stems from something that goes on in our lives or something internal.
Just like humans, dogs can be depressed too.
But diagnosing a depressed dog can be difficult. There aren’t any tests that we can give our furry friends, no questionnaires that they can fill out, and no way for them to tell us that they aren’t feeling up to snuff.
That’s why it’s important to understand your dog and their cues. You know better than anyone else when your four-legged friends aren’t feeling great. That’s why it’s up to you to trust your instincts and act if you think you’ve got a depressed dog.
The Warning Signs of a Depressed Dog
Every dog is different. What is normal for one dog may be the opposite for the other. That’s why it’s important for you to understand your dog’s behavior before you try and make a depression diagnosis.
However, there are a number of different key signs you should watch out for that could mean that your dog is depressed. This is by no means an extensive list, and your dog may not fit all categories.
A Change in Appetite
Just like humans, a dog’s mood can greatly change their desire to eat. If you have a voracious eater who all of a sudden decides that dinner isn’t all that appealing, it could be a sign of a bigger problem.
In fact, poor appetite isn’t just a possible sign of depression. If your pooch doesn’t show the same interest in eating as they did before, take them to a vet as soon as possible. They could have an intestinal blockage that needs to be fixed.
All dogs love a good nap and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you notice that your canine companion is sleeping for longer or more often than usual, it could be a sign that they are depressed.
Depression comes with lower energy levels or a desire to do the things that they love, like run around and play or chew up their toys. And while extra naps throughout the day could just mean that your dog is getting older, it’s worth keeping an eye out for other signs of depression.
Excessive paw licking is a soothing tool that many dogs used when they are stressed, anxious, or over-excited. It can seem like a harmless way for your pet to occupy themselves when they’re bored but it can lead to skin disorders and sore paws, but of which don’t mix well with depression.
If you notice your puppy is licking their paws excessively, try to find other things for them to do. There are tons of great anxiety-relief toys for dogs that can keep their brains and their bodies active during difficult times.
If you have a dog that loves to be around the family but all of a sudden resorts to hiding in certain spots, that’s a good sign that there’s something wrong. Dogs are social animals and pack creatures, so it’s normal and natural for them to want to be around the people in their homes.
Hiding could also mean that your dog is in pain and wants to keep themselves from being vulnerable. So if you think that your dog’s behavior has changed and they are hiding more often now, take them to the vet to be examined just in case.
Reasons for a Depressed Dog
While clinical depression doesn’t have to have a “reason,” there are many factors that can trigger the doggie doldrums in your furry friend. If you or your pet have gone through any of these following things and you notice the behaviors we just mentioned, you may want to think about treating their depression.
A Big Move
Just like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. They like to know their surroundings like the back of their paws. When we pick up and make a big move, it can be difficult for them to understand.
All of a sudden their whole environment has changed and they don’t know why. There’s no way of getting it back. This can cause a lot of stress on a dog!
It’s important that, if possible, you try and keep other aspects of your dog’s routine consistent during a big move. If they have a favorite dog park, take them there. If their walk route isn’t too far out of the way, go for walks there when you can.
Death of a Loved One
Dogs mourn the loss of their loved ones much as we do. If your dog’s number one person passed away, it’s likely that they are feeling very sad and are missing that person dearly.
This is the same if one of their puppy pals passes away or leaves the house. Losing that companionship is hard on a puppy and can trigger some big emotional problems.
New Member of the Family
Just like losing a person in the family can make a dog depressed, adding members can throw off their moods as well.
If you have a new partner that you’re bringing around the house, or if you even brought a new baby home, your puppy could be experiencing depression. This likely stems from the fear that they’re being replaced, or that you’re paying attention to the new thing instead of them.
Dogs get jealous too! It’s important to spend time with your furry friend even when there are new and exciting things going on.
As we mentioned before, dogs are creatures of habit. Any time they undergo a major schedule change, it’s bound to upset them a little bit.
If someone who stayed home with them all day is going back to work and now they spend their days in the house alone, that’s a common trigger for depression in dogs. You’ll want to make sure that you’re getting your dog active as often as possible to make up for this alone time.
Finally, one common and often overlooked trigger for a depressed dog is when their person is depressed. Dogs are compassionate creatures that can often tell when something feels off with their owners. They can sense your moods, good and bad, and they will react to them.
If you’re dealing with your own depression, you should reach out for help. When you’re feeling your best, you can help your dog feel their best as well.
What to Do When Your Dog Is Depressed
If you notice that your dog has a lot of the behaviors listed above, don’t panic. That doesn’t mean that your dog is depressed. What you need to do is rule out any health issues that could be causing these problems so you aren’t fixing a symptom instead of the real problem.
However, if your dog is truly depressed, there are a number of things you can do.
Try to bring back some of their old routines, if you can. Take them for extra walks, pay them extra attention, and buy them some of their favorite treats and snacks. Keep up with the extra attention until you notice a change.
In some extreme cases, a vet may prescribe a medication like Prozac, but the effects aren’t studied thoroughly in dogs. If this doesn’t seem to help, there are a number of different natural remedies you can try.
Natural Remedies for a Depressed Dog
One thing you can try is CBD oil. You only want the best organic CBD oil for dogs, you don’t want to give your furry friend something that could possibly harm them.
CBD oil is a safe, natural way to treat many ailments in both dogs and people. But it can be especially good for dealing with depression, as it can lift up our moods. And it has none of the psychoactive properties of its THC counterpart, so there’s no worry of drugging your furry friend.
A Happier, Healthier Dog
Having a depressed dog can be scary. When we see our faithful companions start to change their behavior and act unlike themselves, it can break our hearts. The good news is that there’s always something you can do to try and get your friend back to normal.
If you liked this article, keep checking back for more ways to help your dog live their best life!