Is Your Dog Unhappy? 10 Depression Symptoms in Dogs that Need Your Attention

Share this post:

Dogs are one of the most emotionally attached animals to humans. With their playful nature and unwavering love and loyalty, they earn a special place in our hearts and homes. But, like humans, our cute furry friends can experience a wide range of emotions, from joy, love, and excitement to feelings of anger, sadness and depression. Surprisingly, many of these depression symptoms in dogs go unnoticed or misinterpreted.

A recent study revealed that many pet owners struggle to recognize symptoms of anxiety and depression in dogs. They often interpret signs of depression as normal behavioral traits. It’s crucial to understand that if your four-legged friend is exhibiting out-of-the-ordinary behaviors such as staying away from you, showing unnecessary aggression or restraint, or being unresponsive when called, it’s most likely that your dog is depressed and showing signs of anxiety.

Dogs are not only our greatest companions, but we often consider them as our own children. We cuddle them, pamper them, scold them, and sometimes even go off-limits to punish them for their misdoings. But have you ever wondered whether your dog is truly happy and enjoys the companionship of you and your family members? How do you know if your dog is depressed and feeling sad? In this article, we will discuss 15 common depression symptoms in dogs, and how they impact your pet’s emotional well-being.

Depressed White Spitz Dog Under A Blue Blanket Looking Sad

Depression Symptoms in Dogs

Depression in dogs can arise from a variety of issues. Dogs are extremely sensitive to their pack members, including you, and to what’s happening around them. They like their routines, and anything that messes with that routine can make them upset, even though we might not notice these subtle behavioral changes.

Have you ever noticed how your dog reacts when a new baby joins the family? When everyone is busy with the baby, you might find them quietly retreating to a corner while quietly observing everything that’s happening. Your furry companion can also feel depressed when you’re on a busy schedule and don’t have time to play or take them for their usual walks, or even when you move to a new home.

Small things, like not wanting their cuddles or pushing them away when they try to be close, can upset them. Dogs are extremely social creatures, and they consider your family as their own. A sudden demise in the family can trigger depression in dogs. A friend of mine had two dogs, Lucy and Boxer. When Boxer passed away, Lucy got so depressed they had to take her to the vet, and after a month of care and treatment, she showed signs of recovery.

Unhappy Corgi Puppy Lying Next To A Food Bowl Without Eating

10 Common Signs Your Dog is Unhappy

Doctors emphasize that before diagnosing an ailment, it must be identified and analyzed. Only by knowing the symptoms can you pinpoint the issue and provide the appropriate treatment. The same principle applies for your dog as well. You first need to identify the symptoms of depression in them. After which, you can determine the cause of their depression and take steps to rectify it. Let’s try to understand the most common signs of depression in dogs.

Depression in dogs is not always due to mental health issues. If your dog shows restricted movement, sleeps most of the time, or is reluctant to go on walks, it could be a physical problem. It’s not necessarily mental depression. They might not be feeling well, possibly due to a nagging injury or an issue you might not be aware of. Like humans, dogs with osteoarthritis experience significant joint pain, which can make them seem like they don’t want to play, move around much, or respond to your commands. Their lethargy could result from a physical illness, an infection, or even a fever. Whenever you notice anything unusual in your dog, it’s always best to consult a vet.

Sometimes, dogs start acting differently, and pet owners notice they’re not the happy, calm pets they used to be. A dog that was once easygoing might start acting more aggressive or begin destroying things around the house. This could show up as a lot of barking, growling when someone gets close, or even biting. They might also start chewing on furniture, carpets, or plastic bottles.

These changes often happen when dogs feel stressed, anxious, or bored. It’s especially common when they’re left alone a lot or don’t get enough exercise to burn off their energy. But remember, it’s normal for puppies to chew on things when they’re teething.

One of the clear signs your dog is unhappy is when they suddenly stop showing interest in activities or games they used to love. Whether it’s going for their daily walks, playing fetch, or simply wagging their tail excitedly at the anticipation of a treat, or even jumping on you when you get back home, a noticeable lack of enthusiasm can be a symptom of depression in dogs. It’s like they no longer find joy in the things that once made them happy. This change can be worrying for any pet owner. If you notice your dog isn’t as eager to partake in these once-loved pastimes, it might be time to pay closer attention to their emotional well-being.

When your dog starts to eat less or even skips meals entirely, it might be a sign they’re not feeling well, either physically or mentally. You won’t see the excitement they normally show during mealtimes. A sudden lack of appetite or change in eating habits is often a symptom of depression in dogs. Just like humans, when dogs feel down, they might not feel like eating much.

However, it’s important to remember that not wanting to eat can also be a sign of a physical illness. So, if you notice your dog isn’t showing much interest in their food bowl, it could be a signal that something’s up. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on how much they’re eating and consult with a vet if the changes in appetite continue.

Unlike humans, dogs don’t exhibit a wide range of facial expressions. But any true dog lover will agree that a dog’s eyes are incredibly expressive. Whether it’s happiness, curiosity or sadness, their eyes can mirror their emotions perfectly. Sometimes you may observe the sad look on their face.

If your dog often looks sad, rests their head on their paws, or retreats to a corner just to watch silently, these could be signs your dog is unhappy. These symptoms of depression require your immediate intervention. Be by his side, gently put a hand around him, rub his back, and give him more time and attention. However, it’s also important to note that these signs could point to a physical health issue as well.

A dog normally sleeps 12–13 hours a day, but when your dog starts sleeping more than usual or seems to be lethargic with low energy levels, it might be a sign they’re not feeling their happiest. Dogs usually have a lot of energy and love to be active. If they begin to spend more time sleeping than playing or exploring, it could be a symptom of depression or something grossly wrong with their health.
So, if your furry friend is acting more tired than normal, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them and check with a vet if this change in behavior keeps up

When your dog looks into your eyes and stares for a long time, it affirms the trust and the deep bond you share with them. However, if they’re feeling down, either physically or emotionally, they might start avoiding human contact. You might find them hiding in places around the house, like under the bed or a table, anywhere they can find a bit of quiet and solitude.

Avoiding human contact and preferring to hide can be important depression symptoms in dogs. It’s their way of coping when they’re not in the mood to be around others, signaling that they might need some help or understanding from you. During such times, giving your dog some extra attention and affection, or even a visit to the vet to check if something else is bothering them, can make a big difference.

We all know dogs love to lick themselves as part of their grooming routine. However, when your dog starts licking a lot more than usual, especially their paws, it could be a sign they’re not feeling well. This kind of excessive licking can be one of the signs your dog is feeling nervous or anxious. It’s like they’re trying to soothe themselves because they’re feeling stressed or uncomfortable.

Watching your dog constantly lick their paws can be worrying. It’s their way of dealing with something that’s bothering them. This behavior can sometimes point to physical problems, like allergies or irritation, but it can also be one of the depression symptoms in dogs. If this excessive licking doesn’t stop, it’s wise to consult with a vet, who can help determine whether your dog’s behavior is due to anxiety or a physical health issue.

Dogs communicate a lot through their body language, and the position of their ears is a key part of this. Typically, a dog’s ears stand up when they’re alert, excited, or even just resting. If you notice that your dog’s ears are hanging low or flattened against their head, it’s often a sign of nervousness and anxiety.

You might have observed that when you scold your dog loudly, their ears retract back and fall flat, reflecting their nervousness. However, this usually happens only for a short period, and their ears return to normal once the effect of the scolding passes.

If the flattening of the ears continues for longer durations, it’s a sign of anxiety and depression in dogs. In such situations, it’s always a good idea to be by their side and help calm their nerves by gently patting them on the back and speaking to them in a loving manner. However, if this behavior persists or you notice other symptoms, a visit to the vet is advisable.

Once a dog moves past the puppy stage, they are usually trained to pee and poop in specific locations. Most dog owners establish a routine of taking their dogs outside for these needs. However, if your dog starts having accidents in the house, such as peeing or pooping in inappropriate places, it might signal more than just a lapse in training. This unexpected behavior can be a sign of anxiety or even indicate depression symptoms in dogs.

These accidents can occur for various reasons. Dogs might feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, which can lead to spontaneous bowel movements or urination indoors. It’s crucial to handle this situation with patience and understanding rather than with punishment.

Cute Dog Framed In A Heart Shape Made With Hands, Symbolizing Love And Care For Pets

What causes depression in dogs?

Similar to humans, certain traumatic experiences over time can cause depression in dogs. Depression often stems from fear or anxiety. Such fear and anxiety can arise from prolonged physical pain, past abuse, lack of stimulation, feeling ignored, changes in their lives or routine, among other factors. Here’s a list of some of the most common causes that might explain why your dog feels depressed:

Chronic pain or illness: Ongoing health issues can lead to sadness in dogs, as they struggle with discomfort, pain and possibly, a decrease in their usual activities. Tips: Regular vet check-ups and creating a comfortable living space can help manage their discomfort and uplift their spirits.

Trauma: When dogs get hurt or have been treated badly in the past, it can really upset them inside. Just like people, dogs remember scary or painful things, and this can make them feel scared or sad for a long time. They might act differently because they’re trying to deal with these bad feelings. Insight: Gentle, positive reinforcement training and patience can rebuild trust and confidence in dogs who’ve experienced trauma. It’s important to be very kind and patient with them, so they can start to feel safe and happy again.

Isolation: Being alone for extended periods, especially if they’re used to constant companionship, can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. This is also common after surgeries when they might be confined and less active. Tip: Consider doggy daycare or a pet sitter to keep them company if you’re away for long hours. Even leaving a piece of clothing that smells like you can provide comfort.

Lack of stimulation: Dogs need regular mental and physical challenges. Without them, especially in breeds that are naturally energetic or working dogs, they can become bored and depressed. Insight: Interactive toys, daily walks, and regular playtime can keep their minds and bodies active, helping them to cope with boredom and depression.

Changes in the Household: A new addition to the family, whether humans or pets, can disrupt the established order and make a dog feel left out. Tip: Gradually introduce your dog to new people or animals in a controlled and positive environment to ease their anxiety.

Changes in Daily Routine: Dogs like knowing what to expect every day, like when they’ll eat, go for walks, or play. When things they’re used to start changing, like if someone in the house gets a new job and isn’t around as much or kids change their school times, it can make dogs feel lost and sad. They get confused because their regular schedule is messed up, and they might not understand why their favorite people are not there like before. This can make them feel lonely and unhappy because they miss the way things used to be. Insight: Try to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, walks, and playtime, even when your daily routine changes.

Loss: The death of a family member or another pet can deeply affect dogs, leading to grief and depression. Insight: The best way to help them is to give them extra attention and love as they adjust to the loss.

Share this post: