More Than Just a Sad Pup? How to Treat Dog Depression

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is my dog depressed, brown and black dog depressionJust like human depression, dog depression is a real thing that’s diagnosed by veterinarians and canine behavior experts. When a dog is depressed, it seems that they become a different dog altogether. From not eating and drinking to uncontrollable shaking and not wanting to go on walks, canine depression can cause a lot of emotional pain for pet owners and pups.

Can Dogs Get Depressed?

Dogs are very intelligent and emotional creatures. They form very strong bonds with their owners and other family members. If they can get over-the-moon happy to see you after a long day at work, but at the same time, they can also get sad for a number of reasons. The sight of a sad doggo can break anyone’s heart!

Specialists in dog behavior (veterinary behaviorists) have been diagnosing depression in dogs for some decades now. When there’s a very big change in a dog’s life or in their environment, that can have big consequences on their mental health. It appears that dogs are as susceptible to that black dog depression as people are!

Gregory Berns, a respected neuroscientist, explains dog depression well, and also explains why many people think it’s not a real condition: “They have feelings very much like we do, even though they don’t have words to describe them.”

In the end, many people brush off dog depression because dogs can’t tell them using words that they’re going through a hard time. Their first thoughts are usually that their dog is tired, old, or ill. They won’t simply ask themselves “is my dog depressed?”.

Can an Emotional Support Animal Get Depression?

Absolutely! Firstly, they’re dogs and we’ve established that dogs feel things on a deep level. Secondly, they form unconditional love bonds with their owner and, when something bad happens to them, they’re the first to feel it.

Just because YOU get a service dog for depression or an ESA for depression, that does not mean that the DOG will never get depressed.

But that’s why having an emotional support animal is not only beneficial to you but to also your furry family. You both lean on one another in tough times as you might sometimes do with loved ones around you. After all, they’re not called man’s best friend for nothing.

CBD Oil for Dogs and a Healthy Diet: Natural Alternative to Help Depression in Dogs

If you don’t want to go down the traditional medicine route, you can turn to holistic cures for dog depression. It’s a well-known fact that being active and keeping a healthy and nutritious diet helps our pup’s mental well-being.

CBD Oil (or cannabidiol oil) is a great product to give to a lethargic and depressed pup. The active substances help ease anxiety, lack of energy, and depression. You can add a few drops of Honest Paws CBD Oil to their diet or give them the delicious Honest Paws Soft CBD Oil Chews or CBD dog treats to take them out of the depressing funk.

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What Causes Depression in Dogs?

Doggie depression can, in most cases, be explained by a sudden and unexpected change to a dog’s life. One of the most common causes of depression in dogs is moving. If your dog has lived their whole life in your previous home, they might find the change very odd and disturbing.

Moving isn’t fun for anyone. Your dog will very quickly pick up on your stress levels, and be confused at the cause for it. They will have no idea what is happening, and the transition period can be as stressful and scary for them as it is for you! These intense levels of anxiety can often lead to a depressed dog, or at least, a sad dog.

Sad Dogs waiting in shelter

Another common reason is the loss of a family member, owner, or fellow dog in the household. Dogs are very sensitive creatures and very devoted to their companions. Let’s also not remember that they are pack animals.

When a sudden death happens, it’s not just humans who get sad. A dog will feel their own sadness or insecurity at the change of the pack dynamics, but they are also feeding off everyone else’s emotions.

Lastly, boredom can sometimes escalate into anxiety and depression. If they feel a lack of purpose and lack of mental stimulation, they can develop doggy depression. This can affect an older dog just as much as a younger pup. Our four-legged friend loves to be challenged and to exercise, so not having that is usually a blow to dogs.

Can Dogs Get Depressed if Their Owners Suffer from Depression?

Dogs pick up on our emotions. If they live with someone who is depressed, there’s a chance they’ll get depressed as a response. This isn’t the most common outcome though.

Dogs love us unconditionally, and the reason we have dogs, whether as pets or emotional support animals, is because of their amazing abilities to comfort and cheer us up when we’re having a rough time.

If your dog has been having the blues at the same time as you’ve been down in the dumps, try seeing a mental health specialist or an animal behaviorist. When things get really rough it is always helpful to have another soul around, and the two of you can help each other to get better.

Is My Dog Depressed From Lack of Activity?

They very much could be! Dogs are active animals and love to be challenged. That’s why they love car rides and playing in the great outdoors with other dogs and their owners. If they haven’t been getting a lot of exercise and activity in, try doing more active and fun things with them!

If the weather is bad or you simply don’t have the time to take them for walks, 10-15 minutes of training will not only wear them out but also give you some decent bonding time. Never underestimate the value of mental stimulation to keep your dog happy!

Depressed Dog looking out window

What About a Chemical Imbalance?

Dogs are the same as people when it comes to depression being either circumstantial or due to chemical imbalances within the brain. Serotonin (the happy hormone) production can be affected by a number of things. If your dog is suffering from depression due to a hormone imbalance, your vet may need to prescribe anti-depressants for your dog.

What is Canine Cognitive Dysfunction? 

As dogs get older, their risk of developing canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) increases. Dog owners look at this diagnosis in a very pessimistic way because they know it means their best friend is struggling with old age.

Does Dog Dementia Cause Depression?

One of the side effects of CCD is canine depression. Because of the deposits that kill certain parts of a dog’s brain, the happiness sensors can also be damaged. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for it. But dog dementia is something that can be managed and dealt with. A dog can still have happy moments if they’re suffering from CCD-induced depression!

Signs of Depression in Dogs

There are many signs that tell owners “hey, there’s something wrong about your dog’s behavior.” If your four-legged friend is showing one of these symptoms of dog depression, maybe talk to an expert in dog behavior. There might be nothing wrong besides seasonal affective disorder or just regular boredom. But sadly, your dog may have a serious case of the doggy blues!

Dogs don’t cry, but they show their suffering and emotions in different ways. Is your dog lethargic? Do they whimper and whine? Are they not eating, drinking, or showing interest in activities? These could all be indicators that they’re depressed.

Being mopey and uninterested in things they used to enjoy, and not having the energy to play, are major red flags that something is wrong. Lethargy can have many possible explanations, so you need to take your dog to a vet to rule out any possible causes other than depression.

depression in dogs caused chihuahua not to eat

Refusing to eat their meals, treats, and even drink, are also important symptoms. Keep an eye on their sleeping patterns, and see whether you see any changes there!

How to Cure Depression in Dogs

Depression in dogs is, more often than not, very short lived. This means that if you take the right steps, your pup will cheer up and become their happy self once more soon enough.

It’s important to give them that extra bit of TLC. Do things with them that they’ll find engaging, such as playing in the park, taking them out for walks, and giving them extra love (and treats!). They should bounce back in a few days or, in the worst case, a few months!

If they’re feeling lonely because they lost a companion, think about getting them a new buddy. If you have the means and space to make another pet happy, why not try it out?

However, sometimes these things don’t work and your veterinarian may prescribe you medications. This would not be long term, but only to help get that healthy, happy balance of hormones back!

3 Facts About Dog Depression

Depression in dogs is a fascinating issue. Who knew these intelligent creatures could hurt and feel sad like we do? Here are 3 interesting facts you need to know about depression in dogs.

  1. Dog depression isn’t exactly like human depression. Dogs react mostly to the loss of a family member or owner, but not because they miss them as humans do. Rather, because the people around them feel sad and they mimic that sadness. On top of that, they may be feeling insecure about the change in the pack dynamics, and what that means for their future!
  2. It can be environment-induced. If you are having family over for the holidays and the house is sudden;y filled with screaming children, it can be very stressful for your dog. Are you remodeling your house? Or changing the landscaping in your garden? Consider how the changes in your home environment might be affecting your dog’s stress levels!
  3. If it’s caused by dementia, there’s no cure for it. But there are many ways in which you can improve the quality of your dog’s life. A lot of it starts with love, kindness, and patience!

pug with dog depression

How to Get Rid of Depression in Dogs!

We want all puppers to be happy! Here are some simple tricks you can try to get your dog out of their slump. In most cases, it makes a huge difference.

  • Engage with them. Take your puppy to the places they used to enjoy the most, such as a public park or to the beach. The goal is to get their tail wagging again.
  • Reward their happy and positive behavior. If they’re being playful again, make sure to reward him — be it with love, treats, or both!
  • Set up a doggy play date with another pooch. Sometimes depressed dogs just need to be around a happy-go-lucky four-legged friend to become happy and cheerful again.

So, Do Dogs Get Depressed?

Absolutely! Even though they can’t talk to communicate that they’re feeling under the weather, dogs can very much become sad. They just show it in different ways.

Luckily, in most cases, this health problem can be dealt with easily (and it’s short-lived!). Taking them out for a walk, rewarding their positive behavior, and making them socialize with other furry friends does wonders! Just be sure to take them to the vet for a diagnosis. You might think your dog is simply “down”, but there may be other, underlying medical conditions causing the change in their behavior!

Common Questions on Dog Depression

Why is my dog depressed?

What can I do to help my sad pupper?

Can depression be cured?

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