Skip to main content
depressed pug with head on pillow

How To Know If Your Dog Is Depressed and What to Do

Can dogs suffer from depression? Could your BFF be depressed? This is a common question amongst pet owners. Well, the answer to your question is yes, dogs can suffer from depression. Although it's rarely as complex and severe as clinical depression in humans, it's certainly not uncommon.

If your dog is depressed, he or she is likely to appear distressed and distant. But as an affectionate pet parent, you need not worry as the problem can be treated if properly addressed.

In this article, we'll be discussing the causes, symptoms, and treatment for dog depression.

Causes – Why is Your Dog Depressed?

There are several reasons why dogs can experience depression. Before you worry, targeting the cause can often be a good way to begin to solve the problem. Here are some factors that can cause your dog to become depressed:

1. Illness

Certain health conditions such as an illness can cause dogs to suffer from depression. That's why it's time to visit the vet's clinic as soon as you observe symptoms of depression in your pup. It's essential to rule out any physical abnormalities before trying anything else for the well-being of your pet.

If the vet diagnosis any health issue, follow the needed treatment. However, if they fail to determine a physical cause for your dog's depression, consult with the vet for what they reckon could be the cause. Having a pet insurance plan like Figo in place can ensure that no matter the issue, your vet can properly treat it without you having to dip into your savings account.

2. Environmental Changes

Have you recently moved to a new house, had a baby, or adopted another pet? All these reasons, and even changes in weather, can be a common cause of canine depression that goes unnoticed. Even we humans have trouble adjusting to major changes and sometimes may even experience seasonal depression ourselves.

So why can our furry friends feel the same emotions? Dogs usually tend to take their time to adapt to different circumstances. If you think environmental changes could be causing distress to your pup, consult with your vet to come up with a plan to make this process easier for your dog.

3. Grief

Dogs, too, can experience grief. If a family member in your house has recently passed away, moved, or maybe a neighborhood pet your dog used to spend time with has passed or moved, that could be causing your dog to feel depressed. You can't technically explain the concept of death or loss to your pet, but animals do grieve just like humans.

4. Fear

Certain fears or phobias can cause depression in dogs. Your dog may have a strong phobia that leaves him feeling scared and distressed. He or she may not display the phobia directly to avoid feeling vulnerable, but they can certainly distance themselves from daily activities for protection.

5. Is Your Dog Missing You?

Are you, as a pet owner, swamped with work or gone a lot? Sadly, a lack of attention or affection from pet parents can cause dogs to feel depressed. This is sometimes also known as separation anxiety – separation anxiety is an anxiety disorder in dogs that are overly attached to their owners or other family members.

Symptoms of Depression in Dogs

We're all aware of depression symptoms in humans, but how does the illness display itself in our canine friends? What should you look out for?

Here are some common symptoms of dog depression:

  • Low Energy Levels – Your lively pup suddenly prefers to lie down all-day
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities such as playtime
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Symptoms of anxiety and increase in aggressive – whining
  • Excessive licking, particularly to their paws
  • No interest in interacting with other dogs or pets in the house

Experts on We Love Doodles also consider excessive swallowing and sleeping as a sign of depression. They explain that certain dog breeds are more prone to depression than others. Therefore, research the dog breed you have and consult with your vet so you can keep an eye out for signs of depression, stress, or anxiety in your dog.

What Can You Do if Your Dog is Depressed?

As a pet parent who adores their dog more than anything, it's not a delightful experience to watch your dog or cat go through a hard time. The truth is that with some tips and tricks, you can help more than you think.

Since dogs can't verbally express what they're feeling, it's essential to catch the warning signs of depression and address the problem in a timely manner.

Here's what you can do if your four-legged BFF is depressed:

1. Offer Your Dog More Attention

This is particularly important if you've been unusually busy or away from your pup lately. Even if that may not be the case, spending more time with your dog via playtime or cuddle sessions can certainly improve their mood.

You can try playing different games and activities like fetch, hide & seek, and tug of war. Just be careful not to overdo it, as you may accidentally be reinforcing their sad behavior. Make sure to include some healthy space for your pup to deal with their feelings and decompress.

2. Ensure Your Pup is Staying Active

Just like humans, getting regular exercise and a breath of fresh air can positively affect your dog's mood. It's important to take your dog for runs or walks regularly to see long-term changes. Many dogs have high energy levels, and if they can't expend their energy in an appropriate way, it can lead to boredom. This boredom can, in turn, develop into sadness and depression.

3. Socialize

Most dogs like to socialize, and who doesn't get lonely when isolated? If your pup has been spending increased time on its own, perhaps it's time to take him or her out and allow them to mingle with their other furry friends. You can do this by regularly visiting a dog park or attending dog daycare sessions.

4. Stick to a Routine

Sticking to a proper routine can really help your dog. Getting out for exercise in the evening at the same time every day, providing him/her with dinner at the same time, or even going for grooming sessions every once in a while can help cheer your dog up.

Now You Know How to Help Your Depressed Dog

We realize it's not easy watching your furry companions get hurt or sad. However, we all experience ups and downs every once in a while. As long as you take the appropriate measures, like ruling out physical abnormalities through a vet and addressing the cause to treat it, your pup will be back to its peppy self in no time!


Ashir provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for We Love Doodles

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by Reviews.com since 2017.

Calico Cat napping on bed

When it comes to traditional Pet...

Senior owner with dog at vet

Keeping tails wagging and cats purring...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Scarf'd Pet Recipes, Mini Pup-kin Pies

Picture this: your freshly baked pumpkin pie...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

man working on laptop in coffee shop with a dog in his lap

September 29th is #NationalCoffeeDay, and we...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Gift guide of holiday pet products

Season's greetings! It's time once again to...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...