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Depression in dogs

Dogs are capable of a wide range of emotions and personalities and, just like humans, they can suffer from depression. Learning the signs and understanding the illness can ensure your dog receives the right support and treatment to help them through their sadness.

Why do dogs get depressed?

Depression in animals occurs for the very same reasons as it does in humans and while there might not be a specific trigger, there are some factors that can impact a dog’s emotional state.

Changes to their environment

Environmental changes such as moving home, building work, renovations and reorganisations can cause some changes in a dog’s mood. This might be until they have adjusted and feel confident in their surroundings again or it could go on for longer.

Changes to the family

A dog’s social group is important to them and they often form strong bonds to their families and friends. When things suddenly change in their social dynamic it can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Always keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour if you introduce a new baby, partner or pet, someone leaves home, you suffer a bereavement or even if someone’s shifts change.

Other causes

Boredom, fears, phobias and grief can all have a negative effect on your dog’s emotions so it’s important to be able to recognise the changes in your pet’s mood to be able to help them navigate their feelings.

What are the symptoms of depression in dogs?

It may be difficult to spot when your dog becomes depressed, so it is important to keep a close eye on your pet when it experiences potential triggers, like those mentioned above. This will allow you to notice the more subtle signs of depression or sadness in dogs.

Here are some signs that your dog might be struggling with depression:

  • Lost interest in things they might have once enjoyed
  • Chewing or licking their paws as a calming mechanism
  • Hiding away from people or avoiding you
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Not sleeping well and seeming restless
  • Loss of appetite and other changes in eating habits
  • Low activity levels

These signs can often be caused by other conditions and illnesses and you should always get your dog checked by a vet if you’re worried about their behaviour.

How can you help a dog with depression?

Once you have recognised the problem you might be able to work out if there was an initial trigger that could be resolved to help make your dog feel better.

Offering your dog more attention, keeping them physically and mentally active, making sure their socialisation needs are met and keeping to a routine can all lift your dog’s mood.

How can my vet help?

Taking your dog to a vet as soon as they start showing signs that something’s not quite right can eliminate any clinical causes. From here, they might recommend an appointment with an accredited behaviourist who can help you improve their happiness and health.


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