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Is My Dog Depressed?

Help Your Dog Overcome the Blues

By Mary Kearl. September 05, 2013 | See Comments

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Is My Dog Depressed?

Dogs can go through various mood changes, just like pet parents do. If you think your dog is showing signs of depression, take a glance here at reasons why your dog might be a bit down, and what you can do to put some pep back in your dog's step.

Is it possible for a dog to get depressed? While science isn’t certain whether canines can develop clinical depression—primarily because they can’t speak up for themselves—pet health experts believe dogs can act depressed. Some even speculate animals have the potential to commit suicide under extreme duress. As with humans, the causes and signs of being depressed vary by the individual. If you’ve been wondering if your dog is depressed, the first thing to look for is any unusual behavior change signaling that something just isn’t right with your little guy. If your pet’s norm has flipped 180 degrees, here are some other indicators that a dog may be depressed:

Common Symptoms of Depression in Dogs

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping more or less often than normal
  • A loss of energy, appetite, interest in favorite pastimes, and personality
  • Pacing
  • Chewing and destroying things
  • Less tail wagging
  • Hiding, acting withdrawn
  • Starting to whine and getting worked up when about to be left alone
  • Grooming more or less than usual
  • Excessive shedding
  • Out of the ordinary crying or whining
  • Less interaction with the family

Your pet may act this way for anywhere from a few days to a few months.

Common Symptoms of Depression When You’re Not at Home

While you’ve been careful to notice something amiss with your loved one when you’re at home, have you thought about what goes on when you’re away? Your dog may be showing signs of being depressed when you’re not around to witness it. That’s the subject of a new British documentary Home Alone Dogs, which filmed dogs when they were left by themselves for the day, and found dogs that some exhibited some of these symptoms:

Triggers of Depression in Dogs

A dog’s mood or behavior can be affected by any of the following changes to the routine.

  • Additions to the family—when a new human or animal joins the home
  • The loss of a family member—either a human or a fellow animal
  • Moving, or being in a new environment
  • Having the humans in the home around less often; being isolated at home for too long
  • Stress in the home
  • Not being exercised or taken outside enough
  • Being in a cage
  • Not having enough of a transition to adjust to a life change
  • Fluctuations in a pet parent’s mood (for instance, when humans are grieving or experiencing depression)
More on Dog Mental Health

Vestibular Disorders In Dogs
Dog Neurological Disorders and Brain Health
Dog Epilepsy 101: Symptoms & Causes

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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