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Depression in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


Depression is often a misunderstood illness. It is no surprise then that several individuals suppose that this drawback is reserved for humans which dogs can’t suffer from depression. While depression in humans isn’t precisely the same as depression in dogs, it will still gift a significant drawback for canine population and their house owners.
How to Know if Your Dog Is Depressed?
Depression in dogs is typically observed through behavioral changes that can’t be explained by any other health issues. These behavioral or mood changes in the dog usually include decreased interest in their normal activities or changes in interaction with you and other people.
How to Know if Your Dog Is DepressedStudies show that boredom and lack of mental stimulation that lead to apathy are often one of the main causes of depression in pets (Wemelsfelder 1993; Meyer-Holzapfel 1968; Carlstead 1996), but there could be a number of other reasons too.
One of them is generalized depression, which is diagnosed after talking with the patient. Since this is not possible to do with dogs, depression that affects canines is considered different and impossible to diagnose in the same way.
That’s why it is important to know the symptoms of depression in dogs and when you need to take your dog to the vet and start taking measures to treat depression in your pooch.
Symptoms of Depression in Dogs
that humans suffer from. Dogs can become withdrawn, inactive and change their eating and sleeping habits, like sleep more and eat less. Some dogs may lick their paws excessively to soothe themselves. Many signs of dog’s depression are similar to those of a stressed out dog.
Your pup can show a lack of interest in exercise, walks, playtime and other activities they usually enjoy. You may notice that your dog is hiding or avoiding you. In some cases, dogs with depression can display a sudden onset of aggression and become disoriented or lost, even at home.
Many of these symptoms can also be explained by various medical conditions, which is why it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian to get the proper diagnosis and rule out other diseases or problems before it could be determined that depression is the main culprit.
Causes of Dog Depression
Dogs usually suffer from depression after some major changes in their lives but it can also be caused by some minor problems, or improper care for the dog. Here are some of the most common causes of dog depression.


  1. Boredom
    Mental stimulation is just as important as physical one – regular playtime, games, puzzle toys and other tools that make your pup’s brain work. When there’s a lack of brain stimulation, or when the pup is regularly ignored by the owner and left to their own devices, boredom is likely to set in, which subsequently leads to apathy.
    Boredom in dogs is difficult to assess empirically; however, there’s enough research to suggest that boredom is closely related to problematic and stereotypical behavior in depressed dogs (Wood-Gush et al. 1983; Gunn et al. 1995; Paquette et al. 1988). Once boredom and apathy have set in in the dog, the next stage is likely to be depression, as observed in the above mentioned studies.
  2. Stress
    Similarly to boredom, it’s important to help prevent and manage stress in dogs to avoid that growing into depression. There are many reasons dogs can experience significant amount of stress, and boredom is one of them (Maier 1984; Gilmer et al. 2003). Once that happens, the illness follows the similar trajectory of boredom in dogs.
  3. Physical Illness
    Depression in dogs may typically be the results of another health issue. Your vet will always try to rule out physical problems if you notice any behavior changes. Painful conditions and issues can nearly actually build your dog act otherwise.
    Chemical imbalances in the brain can also be to blame, just like they can be with humans.
  4. Environmental Changes
    Environment is often of huge importance. Changes in your dog’s atmosphere or schedule will trigger depression. Moving to a new home is one of the most common cause of depression in dogs due to a high amount of stress. Even a change of scenery like a house renovation can trigger depression. Weather can also impact your dog’s mood but unlikely to cause depression. Dogs can react dramatically to environmental changes and it may take them time to adjust to the new circumstances.
    When regularly left alone for a prolonged period of time within the same environment, dogs can get bored, stressed and later depressed, too. When your pet’s environment is the same and his routine is the same, without you there to stimulate and play with the dog, it will negatively affect his overall health

5. Grief

Dogs grieve just like humans for the loss of their human or animal companions. Your dog’s depression can be caused by death in the family, or your dog may be grieving for someone who just moved away or went on vacation. Losing a favorite playmate can often be behind canine depression, especially a playmate from the same home. As the dog continues to miss and stress over a companion that’s now gone, their mental health may start deteriorating.

6. Fear

Your dog may have a phobia that makes him act depressed. Dogs often show fear in different manners than you might expect. Your pooch might be trying not to seem scared so he doesn’t look vulnerable and retreat from his regular activities in order to protect himself instead; other times it’s simply difficult to tell when the dog is scared when the signs aren’t very clear.

7. You

By now research has shown that dogs can feel their owners’ emotions. If you are sick or depressed, your dog will usually pick up on the signs and your energy, which can make him feel like you do. The pet may also feel depressed if you are not home for long periods of time, which is similar to separation anxiety without the acting out.


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