What Can Cause Depression in Dogs

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By Luciana Oliveira

Dogs are capable of a greater range of emotions than the owners actually imagine. This is known as the canine version of depression. If your dog is less active or seems feeling down, you need to understand the causes and learn how to keep them mentally happy. Dogs are usually happy pets that actually can bring a smile to the owner’s face. This is why people adopt dogs to reduce stress in their lives and find a companion. But if you find your canine friend in anxiety and depression itself, then you need to seriously contemplate the causes and find a solution quickly. 

What is Dog Depression:

Well, humans get depressed, we all are aware of that, but this can come as a shock to many that dogs can also get depressed. Yes, their emotions may not be exactly the same as ours and much complicated than that. They may still feel low and depressed due to varying reasons, which we will discuss further below. The temperament of dogs can vary based on their breed; hence, try to learn breed-specific information. If you are looking for information on doodles, check out We Love Doodles that will cover all the bases.

How Do You Identify Depression in Dogs?

It is not easy to understand if your dog is depressed or just a little low for the day. Dogs cannot express what they feel in words. This only means, as owners, you need to understand what they feel and how do you help them get over it. A few of the most common signs you may find of dog depression are not eating food, sleeping more than usual, not being energetic at all, and always n themselves. The dog will refrain from doing its regular activities. If this happens for a day or two and the dog seems fine after that, then you can ignore the signs, but if this persists for a week, then you need to seriously consider how you can help your dog.

Here we have listed a few common causes of dog depression and how you can deal with it.

1. Physical Illness:

The most common reason for a depressed dog is some health problems. As your canine friend cannot speak about their discomfort, it is up to you to actually see for such signs of depression. Rule out any physical injury first. Check for symptoms like dry nose or abnormal behavior, which alarms you. Better visit a vet for diagnosis at the initial stage so that your dog is treated at the right time and feels well.

2. Environmental Changes:

Though moving affects cats more than dogs, dogs do get uncomfortable if they are removed from their usual home. This is a dramatic change for them which can cause anxiety and depression for a few days till they feel like themselves again. You can ease the process by setting up old furniture and also carrying the same dog bed so that the dog finds familiar scents to be relaxed.

If you have gone out for a vacation, then the new place may confuse them as they do not understand why you have left home. You can engage them in outdoor activities, which will excite them and keep them engaged. Carry your dog’s bed and blanket and set it up in a cozy corner of the room so that they find familiar scents in the unfamiliar environment.

3. Fear:

Dogs also fear many unknown things, which can create a phobia that can make them fearful and lead to a retreat from regular activity. Hence, you may feel the dog is depressed, whereas it is just a lack of regular activity due to a fear source. Understand the source and remove it to get back your dog to a regular routine.

4. Separation Anxiety:

This is one of the reasons the most common reasons that cause depression in dogs. Dogs are animals that love to stay in packs. This means your family is the pack of the canine. Even if one member leaves home for a few hours, a dog that suffers from separation anxiety may stop eating and doing all normal activities till the member returns. You need to take time to train your dog slowly to understand that when one leaves, they come back. In fact, do not leave the dog for many hours in the beginning. Gradually increase the time and always get a treat when you come back so that they can associate you going out with something good.

Though your dog may not go into depression when someone leaves for a few hours, they may get anxious. But if one member has to travel for a week or so, you may find a sudden shift in their behavior if they are depressed due to separation. They may stare out of the window waiting for the member, eat less or not eat at all and just lie down most of the day. Try to get your dog to do a video call with the member who is away so that they feel their presence. Give them a used shirt of the member away so that familiar body scent will relax the dog.

5. Grief:

Dogs mourn the loss of their human companion or animal companions just like us. This is the most painful cause of all that only time can heal. It may be a house member or your neighbor’s dog. Losing someone can be really painful for the dog. Give your dog some distractions, go on a trip or just invite guests at home. This will engage them and help them recover faster.

6. Unknown:

There are some cases where there is no reason for depression, which can be really frustrating for the owner. In such a scenario, you better try to give the dog lots of love and time to recover. Also, keep a constant tab on the dog’s health to understand if they are physically ill, which is causing them to lose their regular activity.

The Bottom Line:

Trying to help depressed dogs is essential for their excellent quality of life. This issue may resolve over time, but if it does not, then it is time to visit your vet for further help.

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Luciana, a proud Brazilian, blends her passion for jiu-jitsu with a deep-rooted connection to spirituality and well-being. Her dedication to the martial art reflects not just a physical discipline, but a holistic approach to life, seeking balance in mind, body, and spirit. Whether on the mats or in meditation, Luciana embodies the essence of harmony and inner strength.

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