3 of the Most Effective Dog Depression Treatments Putting the Pep Back in Your Dog's Step

3 of the Most Effective Dog Depression Treatments

Dog depression can sometimes be difficult to spot, but it doesn't have to be hard to treat. If your dog is suffering from depression or anxiety-related issues, these top medications can help.

Dogs can get depressed just like people can. Sometimes, it's even for very similar reasons -- changes to routine like moving or bringing home a new family member, a death in the family, or less time for play with their pet parents. There are plenty of ways to address depression in your dog, including getting them established in a dependable routine and providing plenty of love. But when it's time to seek medical options, these medications are specially deigned to fight the doggie blues.

Depression in dogs can lead to anxiety-induced behaviors like being destructive, and even hurting themselves. Here are options for giving your pet relief.

Dog Depression Treatments and Medications



  • This antidepressant lessens anxiety in pets
  • Adjusts serotonin and norepinephrine levels to the right balance
  • Generic, and less expensive, alternative to Elavil


  • Doxepin treats several behavioral issues such as depression, noise phobia, and OCD
  • Can also help with skin conditions caused by anxiety
  • Works as an antihistamine as well, treating allergies


  • Eases compulsive disorders as well as depression, like tail chasing or constant licking
  • A generic alternative to Prozac
  • Treats panic disorders

Can dogs actually be depressed?

Yes, your canine best friend can surely become depressed. In England, 74% of dogs showed signs of poor mental health. According to CBS News, pet owners often struggle to spot the symptoms in their dogs because they have no idea about canine depression. That’s why pet parents should look for the main signs of depression in their pets. Examples include changes in energy levels and a loss of appetite. A depressed canine will also have issues with sleep and become easily irritable. Try consulting a vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions and develop a plan for improving their well-being. In some cases, the vet might prescribe an anti-depressant medicine to your dog. Remember to administer it as per the dosage requirements (between 0.5 mg and 2 mg per pound ounce) to enhance their quality of life.

Is depression bad for dogs?

Technically speaking, depression is bad for everyone, even dogs. It can be detrimental to a canine’s well-being because it can affect their behavior, physical health, and quality of life. According to Jill E. Griffin, a canine and feline caregiver, depression can lead dogs to develop chronic physical disorders. For instance, they might lose interest in activities like playing or walking, leading to potential obesity. Mood disorders can also lead dogs to have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to diseases. In some cases, depression can exacerbate underlying medical conditions and hinder the recovery process. They might also become withdrawn and exhibit destructive behavior. Their coping mechanism would be lying in a corner, feeling lethargic, or being aggressive. Due to this changed temperament, the bond with your pet might be strained. 

How is depression diagnosed in dogs?

Canine depression is diagnosed by analyzing the symptoms, potential stressors, and environmental changes. According to the NY Post, canine depression sometimes has symptoms linked to poor health and chronic pain. Some dogs even show signs of aggression when they’re depressed. They can also develop this mood disorder due to old age. As dogs grow older, they experience a decline in brain and body function. PetMD states that canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCD) is a disease that mimics Alzheimer’s and dementia in humans, leading to depression. According to Ava Dash, the owner of Doxie Digest, older dogs with CCD need regular exercise, mental stimulation, and a healthy diet for survival. Other than these, environmental factors can also lead dogs to develop depression. Triggers include major life changes like moving houses, the loss of a companion, and the absence of their owner. Loneliness and a lack of interaction can also impact their mental health. Moreover, minimal stimulation and boredom can contribute to canine depression. Some dogs might face stressful living environments and abuse, leading to such mood disorders. 

How do you make a sad dog happy?

According to Elsa Blomster, a positive dog trainer and author, pet parents should first find out the reason behind their dog’s depression before treatment. You can do this by analyzing their everyday lives, like their activity levels and sudden changes in behavior. Understanding their needs and providing them with consistent comfort, love, and routine will help improve their mood and well-being. Industry leaders mention that you can cheer up a depressed dog by taking them on early walks, spending extra time together, getting new toys, and building new experiences. Remember to take them to their favorite park, play fetch, and cuddle together. Try to promote relaxation and comfort at home to reduce their anxious behavior and depression. These positive interactions can strengthen the bond and boost their mood. If the mood disorder persists, you can take your furry friend to a professional animal behaviorist for behavioral therapy.

How long does it take for a dog to stop being sad?

The duration of canine depression can vary. WebMD states it can last between a few days and a few months, depending on various factors. For instance, if your dog has clinical depression, it might take longer to address the underlying causes. Many canine companions can experience depression after they’ve gotten surgery or have an illness. Relieving chronic stress and trauma from health problems can be complicated, as they last for a longer duration. In some cases, your pet can experience temporary depression due to specific triggers. Thankfully, with time and proper care, these bouts of sadness can go away within a few weeks. Pet owners must monitor their dog’s depression symptoms to determine causes and seek professional guidance. Vets and animal behaviorists can offer tailored recommendations to address underlying issues and support the dog’s emotional well-being. Either way, pet parents need to be patient and understanding before taking proactive interventions to help their depressed dog get better.

More on Dog Mental Well Being

Dog Neurological Disorders and Brain Health
What Can I Do About My Dog's Anxiety?
Aging and Old Dog Behaviors

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