Dog Depression: How To Cheer Up Your Dog



depressed dog refusing to eat

While it may be hard to believe, dogs can experience depression. And like humans, it can be caused by many different reasons.It could come from a major shift in your dog’s life like; environmental changes, stress, fear, and grief.

While every dog owner wants to provide their dog the best life possible, sometimes depression can be hard to prevent. If it does occur, don’t get too worried as there are some steps you can take to cheer your dog up again.


First, know the symptoms of dog depression

Although it can be hard to detect, there are some telltale signs of a depressed dog. Generally, they will appear to be tired, lethargic or not as active. A depressed pooch will eat less, lose interest in playing, and not drink as much water. If this is the case, you’ll need to address the issue quickly before your beloved pup develops physical issues.

The good news is that dogs can overcome depression on their own. However, your help is very much needed. If you think you cannot handle your pup’s depression on your own, always consult the help of a dog professional or veterinarian.


What causes dog depression?

Dogs, much like humans, are emotional creatures. Their mental well-being can be influenced by a myriad of factors, and understanding these can help us ensure that our canine companions lead happy, healthy lives. Among the most prominent causes of dog depression are changes in environment, grief, and stress.


Environmental Shifts

Throw a curveball into their environment, and it can send them spiraling. Think about it: a new home, a different face in the family, or even just shifting that old couch to a new spot. These might seem trivial to us, but for our canine companions, it’s like their world’s been flipped upside down. Take a house move, for instance. Suddenly, their tried-and-true territory’s gone, replaced by a maze of unfamiliar nooks, crannies, and scents. It’s a sensory overload, and not in a good way. The result? They might end up feeling like a fish out of water, grappling with feelings of loneliness or anxiety that can look a lot like depression.


The weight of loss

The bonds dogs form are deep. With us, with other pets, with the world around them. So, when they lose someone they’re close to, it hits hard. It’s heart-wrenching to see. They might not eat as much, seem listless, or lose that spark when their favorite toy squeaks. Some might wander around, looking for that familiar face or scent, or linger near the departed’s belongings. It’s a testament to the profound emotional ties they forge and a stark reminder of the depth of their grief.


The strain of stress

Humans aren’t the only ones who buckle under stress. Dogs do too. And just like us, if that stress keeps piling up, it can pave the way for depression. What stresses a dog out? It varies. Maybe it’s the monotony of not having enough play or brain games. Or perhaps it’s something more harrowing, like mistreatment. Then there are those sudden, jarring noises – fireworks, storms – that can send them into a tizzy. Over time, this relentless stress can take a toll, weakening their defenses against sickness and even reshaping their behavior. It’s a call to arms for us to spot and tackle these stress triggers, ensuring our furry friends lead a balanced, happy life.


So how can I make my sad dog happy again?

Engage with your dog in fun activities


dog catching frisbeeThe easiest way to fight off your dog’s depression is by having some fun together. In times where they may be ‘down in the dumps’, strengthening the bond between you and your dog should be the focus. There are many fun activities you can do with your dog, but you should choose the ones your dog enjoys best. If your dog loves to play Frisbee, bring them with you to the local park or beach. The key is to keep your dog active, entertained, and show them that you really care for them. The endorphins released during these activities are a sure-fire way to reduce negative feelings associated with dog depression.


Exercising your dog can fend off sad thoughts

Staying active is one way to distract your pooch from being sad and gloomy. Create an exercise routine that is fun for your dog. Make sure you create an exercise program that is suitable for your companion’s size, age, breed, and temperament. An older dog, for example, should have less strenuous physical activity.

Be patient with your canine companion. Remember that getting over depression will take some time, and won’t happen overnight.


The Dog Stop-Boardman-Daycare PhotoFind another furry friend to help them socialize

If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, arranging playdates or visiting dog parks can be beneficial. Engaging in play with other dogs can be a significant mood booster for many canines. The act of playing, whether it’s chasing, wrestling, or simply romping around, allows dogs to communicate, establish bonds, and release pent-up energy. Play also stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.


Bring your pooch to a doggie daycare

Leaving your pet alone for extended hours daily can be detrimental to their emotional well-being. It’s akin to solitude that stretches on, and over time, it can lead to feelings of sadness or even depression. This is where doggie daycares come into play. These facilities provide an environment where your dog can interact with peers, engage in stimulating activities, and receive care from trained professionals. The physical activity combined with social interactions can be a remedy for their loneliness. Moreover, the structured routine of a daycare can instill a sense of predictability and security in your pet, enhancing their overall emotional health. Enrolling your dog in such a setting might be the supportive step they need.


When is it time to get the vet involved?

If alarm bells are ringing, some of these symptoms could be screaming about deeper health issues. Think hormonal hiccups, the silent agony of chronic pain, or some sneaky illness masquerading as depression.

Time to call in the pros. A vet will dive deep, run tests, and get to the heart of what’s bugging your buddy. And the best part? They’ll guide you on the next steps, be it meds, therapy, or a combo of both. Bottom line: A little gloominess? Maybe wait and watch and try some of the above steps. But if things get intense or linger too long, get your vet on speed dial. Your furbaby deserves the best shot at feeling top-notch.


dogs in daycare

Doggie depression is a serious condition and should be addressed once noticed. It’s important that they have constant care and stimulation and aren’t being left alone for extended periods. If you’re worried about your dog, check in with a helpful member of staff from The Dog Stop, as one of our team will be able to advise special exercises, training or toys to help with your dog’s condition.