Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About


Do Dogs Get Depressed? Signs Your Dog Is Unhappy

There is no doubt that our dogs make us happy. They take away our stress, anxiety and sadness and immediately replace it with lots of smiles, boops and love. But is your doggo happy? Do dogs get depressed? Is your furry friend holding on to unhappiness and sadness in their heart?

Just like humans, dogs can also experience periods of sadness and depression. Even if they can’t communicate it openly, they do feel the blues and there are certain behavioral signs that can help you identify if you have a sad doggo or a happy one. 

Today, let us explore if dogs get depressed, why do dogs get depressed, the signs of a sad dog and what you can do to help an unhappy dog. So let’s dig in.

Do Dogs Get Depressed?

The short answer is yes, they do. But dogs experience depression in a very different way than humans do. While for humans, depression mainly refers to major depression or clinical depression; for dogs, depression primarily refers to feelings of sadness, boredom, blues and grief

do dogs get depressed
Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

Studies have found that humans and dogs share the same activity in certain areas of the brain when experiencing particular emotions. Hence, it is believed that dogs are capable of feeling the same emotions as humans when those brain areas are active.

According to a 2019 study, “Stressed pet dogs, such as when deprived of their owners or after the loss of a social companion, can become inactive and unresponsive. Dogs in this condition are commonly referred to as being depressed”. 

Moreover they can  develop “helplessness”, lack reactions and “give up” when facing inescapable stressors. However,  this is an untested hypothesis. Regardless, the researchers explain that “increased inactivity in dogs” is an indication of depression or depression-like behavior in the dog.

Related: Science Confirms That Dogs Can Smell Bad People

Why Do Dogs Get Depressed?

Most dog owners are often concerned about sadness or depression in their dogs. A dog can become depressed for a number of reasons, such as a lack of companionship, lack of mental stimulation or exercise, abuse or traumatic experiences, illness, loneliness etc. 

Identifying, understanding and addressing why do dogs get depressed is vital for their well-being. Here are some common reasons why dogs may become unhappy:

1. Loss or Separation

Dogs are social animals, and losing a beloved family member, whether human or animal, can trigger feelings of grief and sadness. Separation anxiety is another common cause of depression in dogs, especially when they are left alone for extended periods.

2. Change in Environment

Dogs thrive on routine and familiarity. So any significant shifts within their environment such as moving to a new house or adding another pet can disrupt their sense of security leading to a depressive state.

3. Lack of Stimulation and Exercise 

Dogs require mental as well as physical activities as they are active pets. Lack of exercise, playtime or socialization can contribute to boredom, leading to unhappiness.

do dogs get depressed
Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

4. Health Issues

A dog’s emotional well-being may also be affected by physical pain or an underlying medical condition. Chronic pain, disease or hormonal imbalances could cause a dog to have less energy and be generally moody.

Signs of a Sad Dog

The signs of depression in dogs may be difficult to identify because we can’t directly ask them about their feelings. Nevertheless, we can find subtle indications by closely observing their conduct and body language. 

Here are some possible symptoms of unhappiness in your dog:

1. Lack of Interest

Depressed dogs do not show enthusiasm for things they liked doing before such as playing fetch, going for a walk or even interacting with family members. They seem bored by their surroundings and lack enthusiasm.

2. Changes in Eating Habits

When depressed, dogs may eat less or more than usual due to loss of appetite. Some may lose interest completely while others may use food as a way to comfort themselves.

Related: Science Confirms That Cats and Dogs Can See Spirits and Frequencies That Humans Can’t

3. Sleep Disturbances

When you know the answer to “do dogs get depressed,” you need to start being aware of their sleep patterns.

Just like humans, dogs might experience sleep difficulties whenever they feel low. They might oversleep or suffer from insomnia, restlessness, and frequent waking up at night.

4. Withdrawing from Social Interaction

Unhappy dogs usually isolate themselves socially. These dogs cease being playful with the family, avoid human contact and prefer sitting or lying around in corners of a room. An outgoing dog could suddenly act indifferent or standoffish.

5. Excessive Licking or Chewing

Dogs use too much licking and chewing to cope with emotional distress. As a result, this might lead to cases of self-inflicted injuries including hair loss or irritation on the skin.

do dogs get depressed
Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

6. Vocalization Changes

If your dog used to be quiet earlier, they may start howling or barking a lot more due to canine depression. Contrarily, a loud dog may become quiet or mute if they are sad or unhappy.

7. Physical Symptoms

Depression in dogs may also manifest physically such as deterioration in general health,  fatigue, weight loss, digestion-related problems etc.

8. Mood changes 

Sadness can make your dog more irritable and aggressive. There can be rapid mood shifts as a friendly dog may instantly start growling, barking or biting. Such behaviors may be triggered by unresolved emotional issues, like feeling overwhelmed. 

Related: The Deep Spiritual Meaning Of Having A Dog Or Cat As A Pet

9. Destructive Behavior

This is one of the most common signs of a sad dog. They may destroy items in the house, chew furniture and items, or unnecessarily dig holes in your backyard to channel their emotions and energy.

It should be remembered that while the above mentioned signs indicate that your dog may be depressed, it can also hint at other underlying issues. Make sure to consult a veterinarian for proper guidance of how to help and care for your dog emotionally.


do dogs get depressed
Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

So do dogs get depressed? Yes, they do. Understanding the signs and causes of depression in dogs is important for their emotional, mental and physical health. While dogs may not experience depression the way we do, they can certainly become sad and unhappy.

Consulting your vet, ensuring a constant stimulating environment, ensuring regular exercise, and giving your dog plenty of love and affection will keep your dog happy and healthy. A happy dog is a healthy dog -and it’s our responsibility as responsible pet owners to ensure their emotional well-being.

Related: 10 Important Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How do you make dogs happy when they are sad? 

Offer a lot of love, playtime with toys or puzzles, affection, attention, mental stimulation  and a consistent routine to make your dog happier when they are sad.

Can dogs get depressed if not walked?

Yes. A dog may develop depression if they are not provided with enough mental stimulation and regular exercise. Daily walks are important for their well-being.

What can you give a dog for depression? 

It is best to consult a vet and seek professional care. Other than medications, you can also offer a balanced diet, increased exercise, more attention and playtime.

signs of a sad dog
Do Dogs Get Depressed? 9 Hidden Signs Of Canine Depression You Must Know About

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