When it comes to our beloved dogs, we often think of how happy-go-lucky they are. We tend to think of them at their best, tongues out while running and playing in the backyard and having a great time.
But sometimes things happen in life and we, as pet parents, are not the only ones who can be affected emotionally. Our dogs can also be affected, which can lead to anxiety and even depression.
So why do dogs get depressed? And how can you tell if your dog is suffering from depression? Here’s what you should know.
Why Do Dogs Get Depressed?
Dr. Rachel Barrack of New York City’s Animal Acupuncture says, “Dogs experience a full range of emotions, ranging from happiness to sadness and even depression. Some of the signs of depression in dogs are very similar to symptoms exhibited by depressed people.”
She also mentions, “Depression in dogs can usually be attributed to a major life change including moving to a new house, a new roommate (human or furry), loss of a companion (human or furry), major changes to their typical routine, and/or a traumatic event (such as injury), among other things.”
Life changes aren’t the only cause of depression in dogs, however. Dr. Barrack goes on to explain, “Depression can also be due to an underlying medical condition. Should you suspect your dog be depressed, consult your veterinarian to help determine the underlying cause and what changes can be made to get your pup back to being their usual happy self.”
So how do you know if your dog is unhappy? Here are five signs that might help you.
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Being depressed doesn't always mean looking and feeling sad. If your pup is normally a big softie and suddenly starts to tear up your furniture or growl at others -- humans and animals alike -- then this might be a sign that they're depressed.
If your dog starts to display sudden bouts of aggression, it's worth going to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Aggression can be a sign of physical pain in dogs, as well, so a vet visit can really help you figure out what's going on and how to treat it.
Hiding Or Avoiding You Or The Family
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While there are some things that might scare your dogs enough for them to find a hiding spot, it's not normal for them to avoid you completely.
Finding your dog in your closet for no reason whatsoever and not wanting to socialize might be a sign your dog is depressed.
It's best to see your veterinarian to find out if this behavior is due to physical injury or emotional trauma.
They Sleep More Or Less Than Usual
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We all know dogs love to sleep a lot. In fact, that's what they mostly do when we are at work and not at home.
And though some dog breeds like sleeping more than others, you will probably know if your own dog's sleep schedule is out of whack.
If you notice they don't respond to you when you get home and don't react to your presence, or if they stay up all night, then you might need to take them to your vet to find out what's wrong.
Loss Of Interest In Playing Or Going For A Walk
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This might be the easiest sign to notice with your dog, as virtually all pooches love to play or at least go for a walk. And though there are times where they might not want to go outside -- it might be too hot or too cold for them -- it's something to take notice if they don't get excited at all.
If you notice your pup has suddenly become less active and less excited than they once were when playtime rolls around, make sure to visit the vet to find out what's wrong.
Appetite And/Or Weight Changes
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If your dog becomes severely depressed, they may lose interest in eating their food.
Sometimes dogs don't eat because they can be picky or bored of their food, but if it's bad enough that it starts to affect their weight, it might be time to go see their veterinarian. A loss of appetite that lasts longer than a meal can be a sign they're unhappy.
Note that all of these signs can also be indicators of other serious medical conditions. Regardless of the causes behind these unusual behaviors, it’s always best to see your vet if you spot something out of the ordinary.
Have you ever noticed signs of depression in your dog before? How can you tell when your dog is feeling unhappy? Let us know in the comments below!