Signs of Depression in Dogs
On a surface level, our pets are very different from us. For starters, they walk on all four legs, whereas if we were to follow in their footsteps, we would receive quite a lot of odd looks from everyone else around us. Also, dogs and cats need us to care for them in ways that we don't care for our fellow humans. For example, as people, we feed ourselves and take ourselves to the bathroom when the timing is right.
But unlike us, our pets rely on their owners for basic situations such as these. So from a broad perspective, there are very few parallels between humans and pets. However, if you look at the situation more closely, you might just find that we are very similar to our pets, especially in ways that you might not think of initially. From needing physical activity and craving human interaction, to enjoying time with fellow canine friends and experiencing emotions, our dogs are not so different from us.
One of the most important similarities between humans and dogs is the basic way in which we all relate to each other. This falls into the category of mental health. Depression in dogs is one of the most common disorders that dogs can be subjected to, and because of the high prevalence, it is absolutely imperative that you are in the know about the mental illness that dogs can have.
Just as depression can cause your or me to perform less well or find life very difficult to engage in, depression can alter the quality of life of dogs, too. Whether your dog's temperament is naturally peppy and excitable, or your dog is far more likely to be relaxed and calm, depression affects dogs of all kinds and all personalities.
It might be hard to figure out what is going on with your pup when their behavior isn't aligning with their usual state of being, but this guide on the way depression affects dogs might help you pinpoint the issue. If not, at least you'll know that your dog is not suffering from depression as a mental illness, which will still get you closer to figuring out what is wrong with your dog.
What are the Causes of Canine Depression?
Often times, the onset of depression in dogs erupts from a situational change, especially when it involves the usual environment of your dog. For example, if your family has recently relocated homes and moved into an entirely unfamiliar house, then your dog is likely to experience symptoms of depression and exhibit signs of lower moods.
Dogs learn to trust the environment you live in, and when they are introduced to a brand new location without anything they know, their anxiety levels can spike. The depressive feelings coincide with the uncertainty and discomfort that anxiety brings, so even if your dog is not experiencing depression at the moment, it is important to make note of the fact that moving is very hard on dogs.
If you are moving soon, or if you someday plan to relocate, keep in mind that your dog will do so much better with the grand adventure if you're prepared to accommodate their grief. Try walking your dog in your soon-to-be new neighborhood so that your pet becomes well-acquainted with and accustomed to, the new area. A small amount of familiarity is far better than total newness. It will help you to eliminate the shock of the residential changes.
Not only will the act of taking steps to slowly introduce your dog to a new environment make a world of difference for your dog, but you will also feel much better knowing your dog is handling the change fairly well. Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching your pets go through an emotional rollercoaster knowing there’s nothing you can do to take all of the pain away.
We’ve been there, and we understand how hopeless the situation feels, but by following these preventative measures, you can take steps to minimize any external causes that can contribute to depression in canines.
More Examples of Dog Depression Causes
There are so many different reasons as to why your dog is depressed. If you find yourself thinking, “My dog is depressed,” or wondering if your dog might be exhibiting signs of depression, it is very likely that you’re right. You know your dog better than anyone, so it’s important to trust your gut instinct as a pet parent.
A few other examples of potential causes of depression in canines include…
- Moving homes
- Living in a new neighborhood
- Gaining a new human in their lives
- Losing someone they loved
- Missing a pet friend that has passed away
- Getting another pet in your house
- Suddenly spending a lot of time alone
- Major and drastic change in daily schedule
- Owners who are mentally ill or unstable
- Being given away to a new family
- Getting returned to a shelter or foster home
Gaining a new human in their lives
Sometimes, more does not equal merrier. Dogs do not always bode well with the addition of a new family member in the household. Whether you give birth to a baby or you welcome a longtime friend to stay with you in your home, dogs are hesitant when it comes to letting other people into their lives. Some dogs become depressed when their family dynamic changes, so it’s important to take that into consideration if you switch up the circumstances at home.
Losing someone they loved
Not only is the introduction of someone new into the household a major stressor for dogs, but so is the loss of someone with whom the dog was close. Loss is a hard pill for anyone to swallow, and the fact that it is so devastating and sudden makes the situation that much harder to deal with. Dogs become very attached to the humans that they love, so if a dog’s owner has passed away or someone close to the dog is no longer in the canine’s life, this could be the primary cause of depression in the dog.
Missing a pet friend that has passed away
Humans are not the only beings that make an impact on dogs when they pass away. Dogs mourn the loss of their animal friends, too. This is especially true about those that they’ve spent quite a considerable amount of time with or grew up alongside of, to list a few examples. If one of your pets passes away, pay attention to how your living pets respond to the event. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your dogs who survive the one who has passed. Often, this situation will lead to the living dog becoming depressed.
Being given away to a new family
Having to meet new people and becoming close with a different family can be a trigger for canine depression. Dogs are less likely to open up to another household when they were given away by the home they learned to love, whether it be for a short period of time or for years upon years.
Getting returned to a shelter or foster home
If you adopted your dog from a shelter, then you’re probably well aware of the policies many shelters have before the employees agree to send you home with a certain dog. People who work at animal shelters always emphasize the importance of making sure dogs are being adopted by people who intend to provide them with a forever home. When dogs are homed and then returned, they lose the ability to trust that their environment is permanent.
The same goes for children who are raised in multiple different households as a result of being part of the foster care system. If you don’t want to care for a child anymore, as unfortunate as it is, you are able to relinquish your parental power, and the children enter the foster system once more. Dogs don’t necessarily have the same fate when returned to a shelter, because rather than bouncing around from one home to the next, dogs tend to sit in shelters without any love from owners or joy from simply having a human to love.
Dogs form bonds with the people they go home with, and they view their owners as family, so when you strip a dog from the people he or she has attached to, it can be very devastating for the dog. Depression in dogs arises from circumstances such as this where dogs are taken away from people they have bonded with, and if you’ve ever lost someone that you love, then you can relate to the loss the dogs are experiencing.
The grief that coincides with the loss of a loved one can become so severe that dogs start to fall into a spiral of sadness and mourning. Grief can be a devastating emotion to go through, and depression is a likely outcome of being returned to the shelter from where they were adopted.
Symptoms of Depression in Dogs
Symptoms of depression in dogs are very similar to depression side effects in humans. Some of the most telling symptoms of depression in dogs include lethargy, low moods, and abnormal eating habits. Dogs often lose any and all desire to play when they become depressed. If your dog is completely disinterested in his or her play toys, then it might be a behavior that is indicative of full-blown canine depression.
The disinterest in exercising, playing, fetching, or any other type of physical activity is directly related to the lower levels of energy that depression induces in dogs. Depression makes dogs feel sad, angry, upset, or even numb in some cases. When a dog feels depressed, they have no real reason to want to engage with others and be carefree.
Another example of a change that dogs can sense in terms of their environment has to do with instances where you introduce another member into the family. Month-old puppies and young dogs tend to be much more receptive to you expanding your family, but no matter what, even the most welcoming and understanding dog could experience sudden bouts of depressive behavior all because you welcome a baby into the picture.
The change that occurs in a household and affects dogs the most would have to be scenarios in which a fellow dog or pet passes away. Losing a canine companion hurts to an immeasurable degree when you are the owner of a pet that has passed away, but the truth of the matter is that dogs can feel that heartbreak just as badly as we can, and often, their pain seems so much more intense than ours, despite everyone's being valid. We all grieve differently. While humans may cry and display their mourning through outward expressions, dogs tend to pull back into themselves and carry the ambience of feeling low.
If you are aware that a change in the household will occur, such as guests, new members of the family, or moving to a new place either permanently or temporarily, we highly suggest considering giving all-natural CBD for dogs a few weeks beforehand the change will occur to help your pet with the upcoming transition. Read on below to learn more about CBD for pets.
You might not be able to tell from a distance that a dog lying down is experiencing grief, but the disinterest in their surroundings, coupled with their lack of energy, can be an obvious sign of depression in dogs. Other side effects of this mental illness include...
- Constantly biting or gnawing at paws
- Dull coat
- Poor posture than usual or physical appearance
- Losing interest in the world around them
- Dietary changes
- Unable to fall asleep
- Incapable of staying asleep
- Little to no appetite
- Sleeping in dark places like the closet
- Nausea and/or vomitting
How to Treat Depression in Dogs
If you take your dog to the vet and inquire about treatment options with your dog's doctor, there is a very high chance of your dog's vet prescribing a lab-made medication for uplifting your dog's mood. There is nothing inherently wrong with prescription medication whatsoever,
The top three most common prescription medications that vets prescribe for dogs with depression are...
Some vets prescribe the generic brand rather than the name brand of the depression medication but the basic chemical composition of these drugs are identical. Medication for dog depression must be approved by the FDA, or the Food and Drug Administration. This is a sort of regulation attempt to make sure that there is some way of double-checking that medications are safe for dogs.
However, like just about every lab-manufactured medication, prescription drugs for dogs with depression come with a seemingly endless list of possible side effects. While the chances of your depressed dog coming down with any of the symptoms listed on the side of the medication, the potential risks are so daunting that it’s almost hard to justify them as something worth risking for the sake of curing dog depression.
For example, Zoloft alone has the following behaviors listed as possible side effects of this drug so often prescribed for canines with depression...
- Skin rashes
- Bowel movement issues
- Serious stomach pain
- Little to no appetite
- Dry mouth and coughing
- Weight loss
These are very similar, if not identical, to the side effects that many other depression medications inflict in dogs, too. Rather than risking your dog’s overall well-being by opting for a man-made substance, consider purchasing all-natural CBD for dogs with depression.
CBD Oil for Dogs with Depression
More and more as the days go on, research is being finalized and conclusions from cannabis-related studies are proving the significantly beneficial effects of CBD on moods, especially those caused by depression and anxiety. It is very common for people to present with symptoms of anxiety and depression at the same time.
The reason for this is not that the two mental illnesses have identical symptoms, though we will address the fact that anxiety and depression do have a few side effects in common. In general, both depression and anxiety make life more difficult and less enjoyable for dogs. They ultimately cause a total change in character, and sometimes, the effects of mental illnesses are so grave that pet owners barely recognize the dog standing in front of them.
Thankfully, cannabidiol is something that can reduce the effects of depression, which will allow your dog to live life like the enthusiastic and cuddly pup he or she used to be. Depression doesn’t have to negatively impact your dog for the rest of eternity. It’s all about how you address the situation and which remedy you implore to help your dog, and that’s exactly where CBD comes into the picture.
Health Benefits of CBD for Dogs with Depression
Cannabidiol offers many health benefits to dogs with depression. If your pup is suffering from the unfortunate side effects caused by depression, then you may want to seek out canine CBD. The main health benefits of CBD for depressed dogs are...
- Helps with changes in mood
- Reduces inflammation in the body
- Makes pain more manageable
- Helps balance the gut
- Lowers the risk of having a seizure
Where to Buy Cannabidiol for Dog Depression
Innovet offers an abundance of CBD-based products for depressed canines. Our inventory consists of a wide array of CBD products to help relieve dogs with depression. From chewy treats and soft snacks, to CBD oil and externally-applied creams, we have everything under the sun. Help your pet find relief from depression through cannabidiol oil for dogs! We can’t wait for your dogs to start feeling like themselves again.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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