TAGS: behavior | mental health

Can Dogs Get Depressed? Signs And Treatments

15 May, 2023

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Depression is a mental health condition that affects both humans and animals. Feelings of sadness, lethargy, loss of interest in activities, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns often characterize it. While mental health has received a lot of attention in recent years for humans, there is less talk about how our dog may suffer from this, why, and the potential treatments. This article will shed some light on these important topics.

Can Dogs Get Depressed?


The short answer is yes; dogs can get depressed. Anyone who has built a strong bond with a dog knows that pups have complex emotional lives and can experience a wide range of emotions, including happiness, sadness, fear, and anger. While depression in dogs is not as well understood as it is in humans, there is growing evidence to suggest that dogs can experience depression in much the same way as humans do.


Sad Golden Retriever

Studies have shown that dogs can experience a form of depression called "canine depression syndrome." This condition is characterized by various symptoms, including lethargy, loss of appetite, and decreased interest in social interaction and play. The study found that dogs who had experienced a traumatic event, such as the loss of a companion or a change in living situation, were more likely to develop this type of depression. Often, the things that can trigger this behavior in dogs are events such as drastic changes in their environment or the loss of a family member. Dogs are both highly attached to their people and enjoy their routines. So a sudden significant change in one of these areas can potentially result in them feeling depressed.

What are the signs that my dog is depressed?


1. Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed


If your dog is no longer interested in playing, going for walks, or spending time with their favorite people, it may be a sign that they are depressed. 


2. Changes in appetite


Depression can cause changes in appetite, and your dog may eat less or more than usual. Another sign is if they suddenly become indifferent to the treats that they used to love.


3. Changes in sleep patterns


Dogs who are depressed may sleep more than usual, or they may have trouble sleeping and be restless at night. 

4. Fatigue


If your dog lacks energy and seems to have lost their spark, it may be a sign of depression. 


5. Increased vocalization 


Some dogs may become more vocal when depressed and whine, howl, or bark more than usual.

6. Destructive behavior 


Dogs who are depressed may engage in destructive behavior, such as chewing on furniture, shoes, or other objects.


7. Aggression


In some cases, depression in dogs can lead to aggression toward people or other animals.


If you notice any of these warning signs, taking your pup to the vet and getting them checked out would be a good idea. It is, of course, not as easy to diagnose dogs since they cannot speak. However, as dog parents, we must do our best to read the signals they try to give us.

Treating Depression in Dogs


Corgi with Owner

Treating depression in dogs can be challenging, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The most important and difficult part is identifying what is causing your pup to feel this way. If your dog has feelings of depression from a medical condition, then the best thing would be to follow the advice of your trusted vet. In many cases, your vet may try to give your dog medication to counter the depression. 

If you notice these signs after moving homes, after a traumatic event, or completely changing your dog's routine, then the straightforward answer is to get them into a healthy and consistent routine. Dogs are animals of habit, and they like to know what to expect in their day. Make sure they are getting plenty of exercise and spending time outdoors. At the end of the day, you know your dog better than anyone else. You know everything that makes them happy, so make a concerted effort to include these things in their routine often. If your dog is depressed, it is treatable in most cases, and they should be able to return to their happy-go-lucky doggo selves.  


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