As a dog owner, you probably already know how important the health of your dog is. You probably already spend a lot on vaccinations and vets bills. But did you know that your dog’s mental health is also really important? A lot more has been learned about dog depression in recent years. It’s not something people used to think about a lot.
Making sure your dog is happy is as important as making sure it’s free form disease. A happy dog leads to a happy family, so that’s why it’s important you do everything you can to make sure your dog isn’t sad. If you’re worried about how your dog is feeling, then you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’re going to look at how to tell if your dog is sad or not. Being able to spot the signs of dog depression is important, because then you can start doing something about it. Once you’ve diagnosed your dog’s problems, you can start making changes to help make it happy. We’ll also have a look at how to make your dog happy and improve its mood if you’ve got a depressed pup. So let’s have a look…
How do you know when your dog is sad?
The easiest way to tell if a dog is sad or not is simply to look at it. Is it behaving as normal? Does it look sad? Then it might be. Make sure you don’t mistake those dogs that generally have droopy faces for depressed ones, but if your dog is slumping around and not feeling like doing much, then it could actually be sad.
However, for dogs that don’t have naturally sad-looking faces just because that’s how their skin hangs, you can actually start to notice if a dog is depressed by the look on its face. That’s a good place to start, but there are other factors you need to look out for.
If your dog is whining or moaning a lot, this could be a sign of depression, but it could also be an indication of other conditions like illness or hunger. Generally, the symptoms of dog depression are similar to those in humans. If they generally have a lack of energy and aren’t interested in doing much, including eating, then they might be sad. Some of these symptoms can be indications of other conditions. As it’s hard to simply ask a dog what the problem is, this can make diagnosis a bit harder. If you’re unsure, then you might want to visit your local vet to get their opinion.
Sudden changes in the behavior of your dog could indicate depression. Pay close attention to their moods and energy levels, as well as any other indications they might not be happy.
Many of these symptoms could indicate another condition, either way—it’s something you should have looked at, depression or not. One of the biggest indications of a sad dog is appetite change. Generally, depressed dogs will eat far less, but increased appetite could also be indicative of a problem, like when humans comfort eat.
Another indication of a sad dog that’s similar to human depression is excessive sleeping. If your dog is always slumping off and choosing to sleep throughout the day, you might have a problem. An average grown dog should sleep around 12 hours a day, give or take a couple of hours. Puppies need more. If an adult starts sleeping up to 18 or 20 hours, it might be depressed.
Another key indication of dog depression is paw licking. While dogs will always lick their paws, increased licking could be a result of depression. You should know what’s normal for your dog in this are and be able to spot any changes in behavior.
Paw licking could also be an indication of other conditions such as bacterial infections, so you’ll need to pay close attention and get expert advice if necessary. But if this symptom is included with some of the other ones we’ve already looked at, it probably is depression.
Another worrying sign is hiding. Your dog should be social and happy to be with you and the other people it knows. If it keeps walking off and especially hiding from you then this is very concerning. Family is crucial to your dog because they are social animals and prefer being in packs. That means if your dog doesn’t like people around people that it knows, depression is a very real concern.
How can you improve your dog’s mood?
If you’ve started noticing problems with your dog’s behavior and are worried it might be depressed, you probably want to know what to do about it. Firstly, you might want to understand a bit about why your dog has become depressed, as it’ll help you plan how to fix things.
Dogs can become sad for a number of reasons. Moving homes could be one of these reasons as your dog may have become attached to where they used to live. Thankfully, if this is the main reason then a bit more time might be all your dog needs to get used to its newer surroundings.
Someone else leaving home could affect your dog as well. Aside from someone leaving, someone new moving into the family home could disrupt the dog’s pattern. This type of depression should hopefully only be temporary and if you spend time familiarizing your dog with the new family situation it should get better over time.
A new pet could also cause problems as it might make the dog feel unloved or simply disrupt its routine. The new pet might be a cat, a new dog or something else. Give your dog time to get used to new pets and also make sure they know they’re still loved with treats and plenty of attention. It’s normally to give new pets more attention initially, but make sure you don’t forget your older dog.
After you’ve ruled out any underlying health issues, you can start to address your dog’s sadness directly. There are a number of different things you can do to help improve your dog’s mood.