There are many ways to tell if humans are depressed. This could be crying a lot more, withdrawing from activities, or simply telling us they’re not feeling good. Dogs don’t have the option of telling us directly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling sad or even depressed. Although, there isn’t tons of research out there as there is for humans, there is some evidence that points to dog depression.
Furthermore, some behaviors in dogs may seem more obvious than others. Dogs could suddenly shut down and sleep all day, or they might be less straightforward and not be interested in food as much. With this being said, because we can’t ask our dogs how they are feeling, it is important to pay attention to the context around their behavior.
Causes of Dog Depression
Canine depression is usually brought on by a major change in the dog’s life or a tragic event. A dog also has the ability to feel our emotions and pick up on the grief around them. They could become stressed out by the lack of attention they are receiving or the negative feelings experienced by us owners.
Death of Owner or Companion-
Another cause is a loss of a loved owner or companion. Dogs grieve death just like us humans do. In fact, it may affect dogs more because they do not understand what is going on. All they know is that one of their playmates is gone. This can cause a lot of stress on them and they could become lonely and depressed. Thus, dogs will need a lot of time and attention to heal and grieve from this loss.
A sudden change in dogs’ lives can be very stressful. Moving to a new home and environment can lead to dog depression. Dogs lives revolve around emotions such as excitement when the owner comes home or happy when they are playing. Therefore, when you move from the home he has known is whole life, he is most likely going to be confused, anxious, and scared. Fortunately, these are only temporary feelings that will go away with time.
Addition of a New Family Member-
If there is a new pet or a human baby added to the family, this can trigger feelings of jealousy and depression in your pup. If their owner is lacking at giving them attention, they will know and become lonely and sad. All they want is to show you their affection and receive it back. When they are no longer getting the attention they always received it can cause negative reactions and behaviors.
Change in Schedule-
A big change in your pup’s life like change in a daily routine can negatively affect them. If you accept a job with different hours that affects their morning walks, feeding times, or anything else will be a drastic difference in their life. Even if you are doing the same exact routine but at a different time it will still not feel the same to them.
Signs of Depression
Change in Appetite
Sometimes, when dogs are extremely upset, they lose interest in food and often lose weight. You will notice them not wanting to eat as much daily causing them to not have energy. On the other hand, some dogs use food as therapy when they are sad and want to eat more. In this case, you will notice a big weight gain in your dog.
Sleeping All the Time
Dogs usually do sleep a lot. But this typically happens when their owner is gone or busy. When you get home or show them attention and they still continue to sleep and don’t react to your presence, something is probably wrong with them. If this is happening to your pup check for physical problems first. If you can’t find anything wrong physically and the symptoms continue, your dog may be clinically depressed. This can also happen reversely with your pup not being able to sleep and becoming restless.
Loss of Interest
Dogs always seem to be interested in playing, treats, and just being around their beloved owner. If your pup seems to be losing interest in things that would normally excite them, pay close attention and take notes. Dogs who suffer from depression will be less active, slow down, or seem less excited.
Avoidance and Hiding
Dogs will usually hide or avoid contact with others when something is bothering them. This behavior occurs when either they feel ill or an injury has happened. If it is not a physical problem, it is most likely emotional. You will find them hiding in closets, under beds, or somewhere they know they will be left alone.
Lastly, if your dog is displaying excessive licking or biting behavior, they may be depressed. When dogs are experiencing psychological issues, they often will lick or bite their paws to soothe their sadness or anxiousness.
What to Do When They Have Depression
If you noticed you were nodding your head to the above symptoms, you may be worrying that your dog is suffering from depression. Because your pup can’t tell you what is going on those symptoms could be caused by depression or a physical problem.
So, what should you do about it? First, try to identify the problem that is causing your dog’s depression. Rule out any health problems that could be causing similar symptoms. The path you choose to fix these issues will depend on your gut feeling. If you are sure that your dog is depressed by any of the causes listed above, it is a safe assumption. However, if the problem isn’t so obvious, it will take more research and effort to dig deeper and figure out what is going on in your pup’s head.
Fortunately, there are ways to help and comfort your dog when they are depressed. Some of these include:
Increase in Cuddle Time-
Dogs crave attention so if possible, give your pup positive feedback and more relaxed cuddle time. But be careful to not overdo it because dogs need their space just like us humans do! A few scratches behind the ears or some head scratches will go a long way!
Additionally, if your pup is feeling down, it may help to increase those endorphins by going for a nice walk or jog. It is said that if a dog is more active if their owner, they are less likely to have separation anxiety or feelings of sadness.
Fill the Void-
When your dog becomes depressed over a loss of a companion, you may be able to help them feel better by getting another companion animal. Of course, this isn’t always an option depending on your personal life and situation. However, it may provide a distraction or a new bond that will make your pup feel better.
Our Favorite Product Picks for Dog Depression
1. Hopewell Organic Hemp Oil
First, we have the Hopewell Organic Hemp Oil. This supplement to treat anxiety and depression, is a full plant extract with the purest hemp oil possible. It contains highly beneficial essential oils, vitamins A and D, and Omega-6 and Omega-3. It is grown in the USA and is non-GMO, with no herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. This oil relives stressful feelings and bad behaviors. It also provides anti-inflammatory properties which relieve joint pain and increases mobility and energy.
2. Pet Essences Depression/Grieving
A completely natural treatment for dogs who suffer from depression. It is suitable for dogs of all ages and breeds including puppies. This formula was designed to help dogs recover from an emotional loss to move forward. All-natural essential oils in this supplement include blackberry, honeysuckle, and red grevillea. All you have to do to apply this treatment is to put several drops directly in their mouth or on their skin 4 times a day. It can also be placed in their food, water bowl, in the bath, or on their bedding.
3. CandyPlay Multifunctional Dog Squeaky Toy
This soft corduroy texture tog toy will relieve stress and depression in dogs. It also has a convex texture which helps to clean teeth. The toy is made with durable and natural rubber that is safe for dogs and is non-toxic. The vanilla scent will calm and soothe dogs while the toy emits funny sounds that will attract the dog’s attention immediately. This toy may not be suitable for strong or aggressive chewers. Its available in 4 different animals including a monkey, a buffalo, a hippo, and a rhino.
4. PetAlive Sad Pet Relief
The PetAlive Sad Pet Relief oral spray will help to ease dog’s sadness and stress related to loss, or other tragic events. It is an all-natural homeopathic formula for both dogs and cats. Spray this formula directly into their mouth or onto their food. Medium to large dogs should take 2-3 pump sprays and cats and small dogs should take 1-2 pump sprays. Ingredients in this supplement include citrus extract, carya ovata bark, purified water, and lonicera japonica.
5. Agon CozyFur Vest
Last but not least, this vest was developed to soothe dogs and decrease stress and depression. It is meant to calm dogs during stressful events with no medication or training. The vest features a lavender essential oil scent for a natural calming atmosphere. Your pup can wear this vest anytime and anywhere to feel comfortable and happy. It is adjustable for the right pressure to ease your dog’s feelings of anxiety and depression.