Are there warning signs your dog is depressed? Has your pup been acting strange lately, or does his lack of interest in food or toys concern you? Read below for key signs your dog may be overwhelmed with sadness.
Everyone goes through tough times and experiences depression. It’s an inevitable part of life and often times it’s just a temporary funk that passes after a few short days. Depression in people and dogs is a real and stressful thing and can strike without notice and last longer than a few days, sucking you into a fog you can’t pull yourself out of no matter how hard you try.
Obviously what stresses us out – jobs, mortgage, relationships – is different for animals. While our dogs don’t worry about rude bosses and late payments, their sadness is just as real.
A few common causes of dog depression and sadness can include:
- Moving to a new home
- The loss of another pet
- The loss of a human companion
- The addition of another pet
- Welcoming a new baby or human (significant other/spouse/roommate)
- A family member gets a job or returns to school/work and is gone for hours at a time
- Lack of stimulation
- A drastic change in household schedule (work, school, college)
Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us directly that they are depressed or overwhelmed with sadness, however, there are warning signs that we can look for that will help us to understand what they are feeling:
4 WARNING SIGNS YOUR DOG IS DEPRESSED
Changes in Eating Habits/Loss of Appetite
A change in eating habits and/or loss of appetite can be a big indicator something is amiss with your furry friend. When a dog is depressed, they will typically stop eating and ignore their food – and subsequently lose weight – or eat everything they can and gain weight, much like us humans do when we stress eat.
Changes in Sleep Pattern
It’s no surprise that most dogs probably sleep all day, especially when you’re at work or out running errands. It’s not like they have a honey-do list of chores to complete while you’re gone – even the most attentative dog can guard a front door for so long before the urge to snooze comes over him. But when you come home, your pup should be excited to see you.
In our house, Porter often spends his “downtime” in our master bedroom, which is above the garage and overlooks the driveway. It’s perfect for keeping a watch out for when we pull in. By the time we unlock the door and make our way into the foyer, he’s there to greet us.
On the rare occasion he doesn’t greet us at the door, I know something’s up (unless he got himself stuck in the family bonus room again!). Your dog should be energetic and delighted to see you when you arrive home. If he ignores you or seems disinterested in your presence, take that as a sign that something is not right.
If your dog is hiding out, that’s a major red flag. Some dogs will hide out in a corner, closet or other quiet spot if they are ill or injured – so it’s worth looking them over to make sure everything is okay. If your dog doesn’t exhibit any signs of physical trauma (and they are not hiding out due to loud noises, thunder, etc.), consider doggie depression.
Lack of Interest
One sure sign of depression is a lack of interest in playing and engaging. If your dog suddenly stops playing with his favorite toys and/or shows little to no interest in engaging with you and other dogs, this is a sign something is wrong.
What to Do if You Think Your Dog is Depressed
Don’t assume that just because your dog may exhibit one or more of these signs that he is depressed. If you believe there is concern and you’ve done everything you can to change the behavior (new toys, more walks, treats), and nothing has changed, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. They can check out your pup and decide if there is something wrong.
If the vet determines that your dog is depressed, there are solutions – and medications that will help you. It’s a personal choice how to treat doggy depression, but a good start could be just adding more interaction and special attention (long walks, special treats, new toys and lots of love and snuggle time).
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Has your pup ever suffered doggy depression? I’d love to know what you did to help your furry friend overcome the sadness. Share your ideas and experiences below or connect with us on our Facebook page..