Simple ways to recognize and treat doggie depression

As any pet owner knows, our animals possess an incredibly great range of emotions.

It is easy to tell when our dogs are happy to see us or our cats are feeling particularly shy. But what about when our pets are feeling sad?

Similar to their human counterparts, it is entirely possible (and surprisingly common) for our pet dogs to be depressed. In fact, according to The Telegraph, a study of Britain's dogs found that one in four of them suffered from depression.

Fortunately, responsible dog owners everywhere are doing something about their down-in-the-dumps dogs. Just as there are ways to treat canine arthritis, there are several simple ways to recognize and treat doggie depression.

Scroll through this exclusive list of canine depression causes and treatments below. Understanding the causes of my dog's depression and trying these treatment tips can be so important to the happiness and mental health of my pup!

How does your pup tell you when they are sad? Does your dog suffer from doggie depression? Let us know in the comments!

Six Causes Of Canine Depression

Cause #1: Medical Problems Or Pain

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As pet owners, it is our responsibility to monitor the health of our dogs. And while they can't verbally tell us when something is wrong, their behavior actually can be a large indicator. writes, "Many times, canines exhibit symptoms of depression when there is something physically wrong with them. Behavior changes may indicate the existence of a medical problem."

Since your dog's depression could be medically related, it's important to monitor them closely and bring them to a vet if things don't change.

Cause #2: Recent Major Changes

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Significant changes to a daily routine can be extremely jarring to any person, so it makes sense that it could negatively affect our dogs as well.

WebMD writes that "major changes in a dog's life could lead to periods of depression. Those include moving into a new home [or] a new spouse or baby in the household.

"Even a change in the dog's schedule, for instance a stay-at-home owner who takes a job, can cause a dog to get down."

Cause #3: Loss Of A Companion

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Because dogs have such a large capacity for love, it can hit them extra hard when they lose someone.

According to WebMD: "The two most common triggers of severe dog depression are the loss of a companion animal or the loss of an owner.

"And be careful the dog isn't simply responding to the reactions of other people in the home."

Cause #4: A Depressed Owner

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

It may or may not surprise you to learn that dogs quite often adopt the emotional state of their owner — in this case, depression.

According to Mental Health Daily, "If you yourself suffer from depression, it could be rubbing off on your dog."

And even more concerning, "people that are depressed may not be taking proper care of their pets and this may lead to their dog feeling depressed."

Cause #5: Weather Or Seasonal Changes

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Quite a number of people find themselves down in the dumps during colder or rainier weather. Similarly, your dog's mood can be largely affected by the season or weather. writes, "Sometimes, weather can affect your dog's mood as well. If the weather has recently changed, that might be the culprit."

The good news is, when the weather improves, your dog's mood is likely to improve with it!

Cause #6: Old Age

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Just as humans become more aware of their mortality as they grow older, dogs can also sense when they are approaching the tail end of their lives.

According to, one of the strong possible causes of doggie depression is "old age."

They write, "Some dogs become depressed if they can tell their time is coming soon."

Keep scrolling below for six simple ways to treat your canine's depression, putting them on the path to a happier and healthier life!

Six Treatments For Canine Depression

Treatment #1: More Exercise

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Just as endorphins released during physical activity can help humans, they can improve the moods of our canines as well.

According to Dogs Naturally magazine, "Exercise not only lifts depression, but it boosts the immune system because the lymph system is activated by motion."

The physical health benefits are just as important as the mental health benefits. So take your dog to the park and get them moving ASAP!

Treatment #2: Rewards For Showing Happiness

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

One great way to build great doggie habits is by rewarding them for good behavior. For a depressed dog, these rewards are doubly important when they show signs of happiness.

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Bonnie Beaver tells WebMD, "If the only thing that still gets a little tail wag out of your dog is a car ride, then take him for a series of short rides each day, praising and rewarding him when he appears happier."

Conversely, it is important not to give your dog treats when they exhibit negative behavior. This can encourage and prolong the depression.

Treatment #3: A New Companion

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

In the case of pets who may be depressed after losing a companion, a new companion can be extremely beneficial, under the right circumstances.

Animal behavior specialist Dr. John Ciribassi spoke with WebMD. "Sometimes, if the dog is depressed because of the loss of a companion, getting another pet can help... But it has to be done carefully with both the family's and the dog's needs taken into account."

Treatment #4: Social Interaction

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Allowing your dog to socialize with other dogs is one great way to potentially combine endorphin-boosting exercise with much-needed companionship.

Mental Health Daily writes, "What might help is getting it out around other dogs at a dog park."

Recognizing playful and positive behavior in other dogs may just remind your pup about how great that positivity can feel.

Treatment #5: Extra Love And Attention

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Perhaps the best cure for doggie depression is a whole lot of love. While you want to be careful not to reward negative behavior, showing your pup that you care can help to pull them out of their funk. writes: "Just a little extra attention can go a long way with a depressed dog. Sit with them often, showing you support and care for them as much as you always have.

"This can be especially helpful if you think the root cause of your dog's depression is due to being lonely throughout the day while you are at work."

Treatment #6: A Trip To The Vet

Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

Because depression can be an indication that something is medically wrong with your pup, it is important to take them to the vet if their negative mood persists.

According to, "If your dog isn't bouncing back, and if she's losing weight or acting generally unresponsive to play and activity, it's time for a checkup with the vet, who may run some blood work to be sure there's not an underlying medical condition."

Recognizing the causes of doggie depression and taking action with these simple treatments can truly help your pup to return to their happy and healthy normal selves.

How does your dog let you know when something is wrong? Let us know in the comments.

Please SHARE this vital information with pet owners everywhere!

Find out more about doggie depression:

Dogs Suffer From Depression Too
Dogs Suffer From Depression Too

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