Can Dogs Feel Depressed? What You Need to Know

If you’ve started noticing peculiar behaviors in your dog, it’s normal to wonder what caused the sudden change. Often times, we assume over-sleeping and under-eating are related to old age or physical illness. But, can it be that our dogs are actually depressed?

You may think that It’s a silly question to be asking. But, lots of evidence is coming out that proves dogs are more like us than we could imagine. But there are some major differences between the symptoms of depression in dogs and people.

While there is no diagnosable clinical depression in pets, dogs may start to exhibit behavioral changes that we would characterize as depression.

In order to determine if a pet is dealing with depression, we analyze any behavioral changes. Since dogs aren’t able to verbally communicate with us, we have to be stay diligent to find issues they’re facing.

Defining What Depression is in Dogs

Firstly, we need to establish a definition for depression in pets. Dog depression comes down to how your pet is acting. Often, changes in behavior are the result of physical illness. You should contact your vet if you notice significant behavioral differences to rule this out.

Some symptoms of depression in your pet could be if your pet is sleeping significantly more than usual, they lose interest in exercising, have a noticeably decreased appetite, or are having accidents around the home.

It’s important to be cautious and not assume depression is the only cause of a behavioral change. It could also be the result of a medical condition your pet is dealing with. If your dog is in pain, they may even get aggressive.

Also consider what’s going on in you and your dog’s life. Animals respond to the world around them. So, if you’ve had any big changes recently it could be a contributing factor. Some examples include moving or the death of another pet.

How To Help Your Dog When it’s Depressed

The first step should be taking your pet in for a checkup. By bringing them to the vet, they may be able to pick up on a health issue you didn’t know to look for. If they find a health issue, they’ll be able to provide you with a course of action in order to get your dog back to its normal self.

If your dog’s depression is from circumstantial changes, your vet may be able to write a prescription for your pet. Antidepressants and their long-term effects have not been well studied in pets, so this is likely a last case scenario.

When your dog’s behavior changes drastically you will definitely want to look into it further. This is not something you should put off. If it’s due to an illness you will want to get that taken care of before it gets worse.

Final Thoughts

Staying aware of your pet’s behavioral patterns is an important part of pet ownership.  By knowing how your pet regularly acts you will easily be able to determine when something isn’t right.

While human depression may look different from animal depression, it is good to take both seriously. Depression in your animal may indicate an illness or be a sign of stress in your pet. Getting your furry pal looked at is the best course of action.

Your vet is trained to be able to interpret your pet’s responses in a way that you may not be able to. If you notice your pet acting differently it’s important to describe their normal behavior. Vets generally see your pet when they’re sick, so you have to fill them in on how they behave at home.

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