12 Behaviors of a Dog With Depression
Dogs, like people, can struggle with depression and mental health issues. And also like people, many of the symptoms and signs of their depression are made up of similar behavior.
“Depression in dogs can usually be attributed to a major life change including moving to a new home, a new roommate (human or furry), loss of a companion (human or animal), major changes to their typical routine, and/or a traumatic event (such as an injury), among other things,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack of NYC’s Animal Acupuncture. “Depression can also be due to an underlying medical condition. Should you suspect your dog to 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 can you spot your dog’s potential depression? Here are a dozen signs of behavior to look out for.
Newfound aggression coming from a dog that is typically docile, excitable, or affectionate, is often sparked by depression.
Dogs will often run for cover when something legitimately startles or scares them, like thunder, for example. However, disappearing for no reason at all for noticeable amounts of time is something to take note of.
3. Wetting Indoors
A house-trained dog will typically only wet indoors when you’ve not done your job of taking them out for regular walks. If that’s not the case though, this is certainly erratic behavior in which depression may be to blame.
4. Being Destructive
An adult dog who suddenly and surprisingly destroys something like your couch or clothes is potentially wrestling with legitimate anxiety and/or depression.
5. Ignoring Commands
You probably spent a significant amount of time teaching your dog simple commands like “sit” and “stay,” so again, these are easy behaviors for you to take notice of when things suddenly and unexplainably change.
6. Lack of Appetite
If your dog is like 99% of other dogs on the planet, they can hardly contain themselves when they know it’s time to eat. And just like people, a loss of appetite is a common sign of depression.
7. A Lack of Interest
This is also another sign of potential depression that mirrors symptoms found in humans. Losing interest in things that normally bring joy or command focus and attention is very common in depression.
An inability to sleep is also often a sign of illness or injury, so be sure to pay attention to other possible reasons your dog isn’t sleeping.
9. Too Much Sleeping
This one falls in line with losing interest or motivation to take on common tasks, which is often associated with depression.
10. Excessive Licking
“Most people are not aware, but excessive licking (or chewing) can be a way of self-soothing,” says Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinary health expert with Rover.com. “If you notice any of these signs, call your vet and schedule a check-up.”
Biting is an obvious one to catch. Every dog nips and nibbles, often as part of playing or even just getting attention. But full-on bites are another sign of aggression and possible depression.
12. Ignoring Affection
Dogs are absolutely beloved for their love of affection and attention. This should be an easy one to spot if your dog typically loves getting attention but suddenly turns away from it consistently.
Of course, it’s important to remember that these aren’t a surefire diagnosis of depression, only potential signs of it. Your job is simply to pay attention, take note of possible symptoms, and get your pet to a vet for a proper diagnosis.