7 Dog Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs


Has your dog not been acting like himself lately? It could be that he is suffering from a medical condition. Or he could be depressed.

Yes, dogs can get depressed, although dog depression differs from human depression. But dogs can be affected by sadness and grief, just like we can. And dog depression is usually triggered by specific events, such as:

  • The death of an owner or animal companion
  • A new baby or a new pet in the household
  • A move
  • A significant lifestyle change
  • Lack of mental or physical stimulation
  • Isolation

If you think your dog is depressed, you should take him to animal urgent care to ensure he has no underlying medical condition. Medication can be prescribed for severely depressed dogs, but giving your dog extra attention will usually help him feel better. Ensure your dog gets all the affection he needs and is healthy. Provide him with enough exercise, mental stimulation, and some opportunities to socialize with other dogs.

If you think your dog might be depressed, here are seven dog depression symptoms you should look out for.

Symptom #1: Changes in behaviour

When a dog is not feeling well, his behaviour often changes. Your dog’s behaviour could change suddenly if he is sick or injured, so if your dog is not behaving like he usually does, start by ensuring he isn’t in physical pain.

A depressed dog could lose interest in his favourite activities, whether going for long walks or playing fetch. His body language could change, and he could start interacting differently with humans and other pets.

Or perhaps your dog started hiding, engaging in destructive behaviour, or withdrawing from social situations.

Any behaviour change that surprises you could be a dog depression symptom.

Symptom #2: Unusually aggressive behaviour

Some dogs are naturally more aggressive than others. Some are aggressive towards humans they don’t know or towards other animals. But if your dog suddenly shows unusually aggressive behaviour, it could be a sign that he is depressed.

If your dog starts growling when you pet him or goes around the house destroying your furniture while he never did that before, you can think of it as a possible symptom of dog depression.

Symptom #3: Sleeping a lot more than usual

A depressed dog can become anxious and uneasy. But he can also become lethargic. If your dog has been sleeping much more than usual and always seems sleepy when awake, it could be another dog depression symptom.

This is even more true for dogs affected by separation anxiety or grief. And if your dog is mourning the loss of a beloved human or pet companion, on top of appearing lazy, he might spend a lot of time in the areas where their lost friend used to spend their time.

Symptom #4: A sudden change in appetite

Dogs often lose their appetite when they are not feeling well. If your dog is not eating as much as he used to, it could be another sign he is depressed.

On the other hand, some dogs who are depressed will start overeating. So if you notice an unusual increase in appetite, your dog could be depressed.

Symptom #5: An increased need for affection

Some dogs will become withdrawn when they are depressed. But depressed dogs often become very clingy and needy with their owner.

If your dog demands more affection and attention than he usually does, it could be a symptom of depression. He could also be suffering from separation anxiety, which is considered a variant of dog depression.

Giving more attention to your dog and spending some extra time cuddling with him could help him feel much better.

Symptom #6: Peeing or pooping indoors

It can be normal for a puppy to pee or poop indoors. But you should be concerned if your dog starts peeing or pooping on the floor or anywhere else in your house when he usually never does this.

Dogs often do this because they suffer from separation anxiety and are not getting all the attention and affection they need from their owner.

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you should consider getting the help of a dog trainer that will help change this behaviour.

Symptom #7: Unusual barking or howling

Some dogs bark more than others. But some unusual changes in vocalization could be a symptom of dog depression.

Check if you notice your dog barking, howling, or whining more than usual. He could bark at other animals, humans, or seemingly for no reason. And if your dog is being vocal from the moment you leave your home to the moment you return, this is a sign of separation anxiety.


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