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Depression In Dogs – Warning Signs, Causes & Treatment

“The greatest fear dogs know the fear that you will not come back when you go out the door without them” – Stanley Coren. What is depression? The feeling of nothingness and extreme sadness causing loss of pleasure in day-to-day activities is depression. It affects an individual not only mentally but also socially and physically. Is it just limited to humans? If you are a pet parent and are worried about your dog’s mental health and have a lot of questions about is my dog depressed? Here are a few reasons and how you can cure it.

Can Dogs Get Depressed?

Can dogs suffer from depression? We know that dogs do not possess high reasoning and mental abilities like humans. However, they can experience some serious mental issues like depression. So yes to the question, ‘can dogs get depressed?’. In contrast to human depression, dogs do not suffer from a complex clinical disorder like we do. Still, they can certainly suffer from a few bouts. Animals have a similar nervous structure to us human beings. Canines belong to the family of chordates; therefore, our sensory systems are remarkably similar.

Common nervous system disorders like anxiety, stress, and depression can often be seen in dogs. The canine nervous system is divided into two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Dogs, like us, experience a broad spectrum of emotions. The central nervous system keeps these emotions in check. Therefore, dogs also suffer from CNS (Central Nervous System) depression. Also, lack of sleep, apetitie or enthusiasm can be the common signs and symptoms of depression.

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How to Tell If your Dog Is Depressed?

The signs dog is depressed and symptoms of depression in dogs are familiar to those seen in humans. Like any mental disorder, depression slows down the mental activity of an organism. It is a depressive disorder. Therefore, your dog might be losing interest in activities it once used to enjoy, altering its diet, and scared behavior. The first significant step in diagnosing the issue is to take your dog to a vet to rule out any possible medical reason. If you are still having doubts about the deteriorating health of your pooch, check for the following dog depression symptoms.

#1 Changes in Behavior

Depression slows down the brain’s perception of things and response to stimuli. Your dog is acting weird or become less interested in its surroundings. It might become more withdrawn and less attentive. It can be concerning if you notice that your dog does not show as much activity as usual.

#2 Change in Appetite

You will notice a difference in the eating habits of your dog not eating food. Usually, dogs show a loss in appetite, which can result in weight loss. As nothing is joyful in depression, eating becomes a challenge. On the other hand, some dogs might eat more to keep themselves occupied.

#3 Body Language

A dog will change its body language. It might sit in a very alert position. Dogs tuck their tails. They will not wag it as usual. Some dogs also constantly lick their paws. This is similar to us human beings biting our nails in anxiety. The posture of a dog changes. It will sit in a humped way with its tail between its legs. Also, they might get scared or surprised by little noises and whine.

#4 Loss of Interest

Dogs are super energetic and enjoy a lot of activities. They have favorite games and interests. If your dog has stopped eating its favorite food or is no longer showing interest in things it used to love (playing a game of fetch etc.), it could be concerning. The dog seems sad and tired and may also be withdrawn from its favorite family member.

#5 Less Interaction

Dogs are actively vocalizing animals. However, a depressed dog can be quiet. It might not bark as often as it used to. It will not squeal in excitement and can whimper and cry. Moreover, it might not interact with the other family members or react to its name. It may not interact with its neighborhood friends and other dogs.

Common Causes of Depression in Dogs

Depression is caused by anything that profoundly impacts the nervous system. Any trauma, be it the death of a close one or a shift of environment, can be one of the common causes of depression in dogs. These are the common causes for dog depression and anxiety symptoms.

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#1 Emotional Trauma

If a close family member dies or dies, the dog might get depression. It might get depressing if the family has shifted and the dog loses its fellow furry friend. Sometimes, the dog’s companion in the family dies, which leaves them depressed. Also, sometimes, dogs have playmates.

#2 Change of Environment

If you have recently shifted to a new house or neighborhood, your dog might take time to adjust. Losing their usual playmates and making new furry friends can be mentally exhausting for dogs. Small puppies are more likely to get the depression for this reason.

#3 Harsh Treatment

Some trainers are extremely strict towards dogs. Furthermore, never hit your dog, and treat it with kindness. Make sure it is getting proper meals on time.

#4 Social Trauma

Dogs have separation anxiety. If the owner is busy and does not have time for their pet, the dog might develop social anxiety. Separation of fear is also a reason for depression in dogs with anxiety. The arrival of a new member in the house, which might cause a lack of attention towards the dog, can be a reason. This induces stranger anxiety and stress.

#5 Lack of Mental Stimulation

Your dog might not be getting enough mental and physical stimulation. There might have been a decrease in its playtime. This way, it might be unable to keep itself occupied and mentally fit.

#6 Health-based

While recovering from a disease, many medicines induce depression as a side effect. Not being able to do regular activities makes the dog stress and tired. Constant medication and rest also have side effects.

How to Treat Depression in Dogs?

Knowing the solution to this medical issue is important for a concerned pet parent. Fortunately, depression is curable. A lot of medicines, like anti depressants for dogs can be used. Some FDA-approved medications like Fluoxetine, Clomipramine, and Prozac are most commonly prescribed. However, any medications or vet treatments should be the last resort. Depressed dogs can be easily cured using home remedies. Some of them are:

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  • Never leave it unattended: Don’t leave your depressed dog alone; try to spend as much time with it as possible.
  • Try to get a new dog: If your depressed dog is the loss of a near one, getting a new puppy will help. Not only will this keep your dog busy, but the arrival of a new dog can make a new playmate for the dog. This is also a great idea if you have to go on a business trip and you are busy.
  • Fun activities: Try to do what your dog likes. Reward them with anxiety treats for dogs it for wagging its tail and enjoying. Moreover, never reward whenever you see your dog sad. It will make it worse. Car rides, favorite food, and dog parks help. Keep your dog busy and happy.
  • Behavior Specialist: Try consulting a behavior analyst or a dog therapist. It can help the dog deal with loss and traumas. They also help recover from separation anxiety and fears.


To conclude, the canine brain and the human brain are not so different. Both experience a wide array of emotions and can suffer from mental disorders. Depression is a behavioral mental issue that might be the cause of your dog’s withdrawn and inattentive nature. There are many signs of depression in dogs which are listed above. Besides, dogs usually recover from depression much sooner, in almost 2 to 3 weeks. Natural serotonin inducers like new friends and fun activities might help. Once you know your pet is depressed, try to give a few dog depression treatments. We wish you a happy and healthy dog.