Depressed Dog- How Can You Help and How to Prevent It

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You probably know that depression is a disease of our civilization and that every year more and more people need to take antidepressants. But do you know that depression can also be a dog’s illness? For some people, it is still surprising but pets feel loneliness, pain, sadness, and misery. If their needs aren’t properly fulfilled the risk of depression is even higher. Moreover, when a member of a family dies, or if you owned more dogs and one had to be put down, there is a possibility that the other dog will suffer from depression.

Are there any ways to prevent it? What should you do when you observe that your dog is sad for a longer period of time? How can we help our pets to recover and feel happy again? Read this article and find the answers.

How Does Depressed Dog Look Like?

belgian shepherd dog in front of white background

Although some breeds have a natural sad look, it is the first sign of depression. The dog is sad most of the time and he has no energy to play and to run. He doesn’t want to eat or he eats much less than usual. Also, he is generally inactive, and he sleeps a lot more in a day. You can observe frequent mood changes. Moreover, if your dog starts to spend time alone, to isolate from the family, and to hide, there is also a sign that he can suffer from depression.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping more
  • Mood changing
  • Sadness
  • Hiding and being withdrawn
  • Paw licking

What are the Reasons for Depression in Dogs’ Life?

depressed dog

Like I mentioned in the introduction there are various reasons for this illness.
Firstly, a dog doesn’t feel loved, and cared properly. Instead, he feels lonely and abandoned. For example, he was the apple of your eye from the beginning but suddenly, there is a new member of your family – a newborn baby. Your dog can feel that you don’t need him anymore because the baby attracts all your attention.

The most important aspect of this situation is to show your pet that nothing has actually changed. You still need him, love him, and he is still your friend. Do not change the routine of walks with the dog. Try to find a balance between the time you need to divide for him and for the baby.

Moreover, when you own more than one dog and one of them is ill and can die, be prepared that the other one can change his behavior. It doesn’t have to lead to depression but the risk is higher.
In general, a dog’s depression is caused by changes. It can be a new house, moving to a different city, the sudden lack of proper activity, the loss of companion animals. However, the most frequent reason is the loss of the owner.
If you as an owner suffer from depression your dog can start to feel similar emotions as you.

Reasons for Depression:

  • Death of family member or the owner
  • Death of another dog
  • Physical illness
  • New house
  • Anxiety
  • The owner’s depression

How Can You Help?

a cute Pug dog with a sad, fat face, sleep

When you observe that your dog behaves differently for a longer period of time, try to comfort him with activities he has always liked. Take him to his favorite places, buy his favorite treats, and increase the time you spend together. Consider to meet him with other pets in order to get a company and play together. If your dog doesn’t mind to be hugged, increase the cuddle time.

If nothing has changed, consult the veterinarian who will prescribe antidepressants, for example, fluoxetine. Dogs take the same medication as humans but unlike with people, the treatment takes less time, from 6 to 12 months.

Remember that various health problems can cause similar symptoms. If you are not sure, tell the veterinarian about your assumptions and ask for health and blood tests in order to exclude different illnesses.
Also, consult a behaviorist. These people know exactly how depressed dog behaves and they will help you to find the symptoms and the solutions.


Dogs’ depression is not as frequent as with people but it also happens. Even though your dog is naturally very positive and happy, it doesn’t mean that he will not have this problem in the future. Life changes are difficult especially for our animals and this is the main reason for their depression. When you move to a different house or city, when you change your job schedule, when there is a new member of your family, or when someone had just died, always remember about your pets.

Dogs are very sensitive and they can feel your emotions so do not leave them alone when a situation is difficult. On the contrary, devote even more your time and attention. Increase the walks, cuddle time, and love.

When the condition will not change, visit the veterinarian who will prescribe the anti-depressants. Our dogs cannot speak about their feelings and emotions and that’s why it is extremely important to observe every worrying signal.

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