5 signs your dog might be depressed

There’s evidence that dogs can alleviate depression in humans, which is great news for canine lovers! But, buckle up, because this is a two-way street. Experts in the world of veterinary and animal behavioral pharmacology have determined that dogs get depressed, too. Here’s how to spot it, so you can return the favor by helping your pup beat his own depression. 

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5 signs your dog might be depressed
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5 signs your dog might be depressed

Low Energy

As with humans, depression in dogs is often caused by changes in serotonin levels. This manifests in lethargy and what may appear to be laziness. If your dog quickly goes from loving walks and leaping at any opportunity to fetch a tennis ball to showing disinterest in his favorite activities, he may be down in the dumps. Don’t brush this off as lazy dog behavior (unless of course, you own a basset hound, in which case Netflix and chill is very much the status quo).

Change in Eating Habits

Canines live for meal time. PetCareRx, a pet pharmacy that deals with nearly every canine medication on the planet, states dogs who are feeling low typically eat less or show only mild interest in their food. This symptom can be easier to spot since—hello!—there’s tangible evidence left over after dinner; so pay attention to these habits.

Change in sleeping habits

Again, lethargy that turns into 24/7 naptime should ring alarm bells. According to Stanley Coren, PhD, who has written almost a dozen books on dog behavior, a canine retreating to his bed or snoozing instead of playing is often an indicator something isn’t right. This could certainly be a sign your pup has hurt himself physically, but pain is often paired with yelping or a change in movement, not sleep. If nothing on the surface looks wrong, your dog could definitely be feeling depressed.

Anxious or obsessive behavior

While some breeds are more anxious and alert than others (hello, Boston terriers), any dog suddenly fixating on a certain behavior could be exhibiting symptoms of depression. Often chewing constantly on a single paw or nail can indicate dogs are upset or feeling low. If your typically friendly Goldendoodle stops greeting you at the door and starts hiding in the living room, something is definitely off internally.

Aggression 

While aggression is rarer when it comes to depressed dogs, it can happen. Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, and if a pup lets that anxiety take over, it can come out as scary, mean behavior. On the other hand, some pet experts like Iain Booth, founder of VetUK, believe dogs who feel ignored will act out for attention. A combination of these factors can make for a very moody pup.

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If a dog displays any of these behaviors, consider whether a recent event could be contributing to this shift in temperament. The most common causes of doggie depression are the loss of a family member (humans and other family pets included), a traumatic injury, and sometimes even a commiseration with a depressed human. It’s worth a visit to the vet to verify what’s really going on and get the best treatment possible for the symptoms.  

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How different dog breeds show love
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How different dog breeds show love

Asian 

Common breeds: Chow Chow (pictured). Akita, Chinese Shar Pei

Many of these kinds of dogs were originally bred to guard people and property. They're often seen as independent and more reserved around strangers, although fiercely loyal to their family. They like their space, so you should let them come to you — let them give you love on their own terms. They'll usually show their love by sitting close to you (but not on you).

Arctic 

Common breeds: Siberian husky (pictured), Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed

These types of dogs were bred to be highly active and social dogs. They get along and work well with other dogs (think: sled dogs). They often show their love by playfully jumping, roughhousing and playing with toys. To show them love, they should get proper exercise and lots of playtime. 

Companion

Common breeds: Maltese (pictured), Bichon Frise, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu

Companion dogs were literally bred to be lap dogs, often finding companionship with royalty. They're friendly, intelligent and show their love just by being with you and "kissing." Show them love by petting them while they sit on your lap.

Guard

Common breeds: Mastiff (pictured), American Staffordshire Terrier, Boxer, Bulldog, French Bulldog, Rottweiler

These types of dogs are known to be loyal to their families. Although often large, they show love by playfully jumping and "smiling." They enjoy belly rubs and just being near you, like snuggling up with you on your couch or in your bed.

Herding

Common breeds: Australian Shepherd (pictured), Australian Cattle Dog, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Shetland Sheepdog

These breeds of dogs are very smart. Give them a job to do and they'll show their love through their hard work. They love to keep a group together and will herd most things as well as stick by your side waiting for the next command. Show them love by giving them plenty of play time and a job to do, like playing fetch.

Sporting 

Common Breeds: Golden Retriever (pictured), Cocker Spaniel, English Setter, German Shorthair Pointer, Labrador Retriever, Poodle

These dogs are known to be friendly, happy, active and loyal companions. They were originally bred to work with hunters, and they show their love by helping. This is why many of them make for great therapy or guide dogs. They'll lean into you or put their nose in your lap to show their love. To keep them happy, play retrieving games that provide exercise and cuddle them close.

Terrier

Common breeds: Chihuahua (pictured), Russell Terrier, Schnauzer, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

Terriers have a lot of energy and often want to be with their humans, but they can also be stubborn and more reserved around strangers. They'll show their love by playing with you and coming into your space. To show them love, give them some exercise and keep them close.

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