Why does my puppy seem depressed?

Identifying and treating depression in dogs

It is well known that depression is widespread in people. Dogs, on the other hand, are seen as loyal helpers who support their master or mistress even in difficult times.

Dogs can also suffer from depression. In the following, we will explain how you can recognize this and what you can do about it.

Key facts at a glance

  • Depression in dogs is expressed by a listless, sad impression.
  • There are different triggers. This also includes excessive and insufficient demands.
  • A veterinarian should always be consulted to rule out physical ailments.
  • Once the trigger has been resolved, time and security help to rekindle the dog's zest for life.

Recognize depression in dogs

Of course, diagnosing depression in dogs is much more difficult than in humans. After all, affected four-legged friends cannot use words to draw attention to their mental suffering. For this reason, it is important that you, as a dog owner, keep a close eye on possible signs.

Dogs affected by depression are increasingly withdrawing from everyday life. They hardly have any fun playing and romping around and their appetite is also noticeably decreasing. Depressed dogs often give a dejected, sad impression and hardly react positively to their owner's attempts at employment.

Of course, such behavior does not necessarily mean that your four-legged friend suffers from mental problems. However, if the symptoms persist over a long period of time, they may well indicate depression in your dog.

Possible causes of depression in dogs

There are several causes that can lead to depression in dogs. Last but not least, your empathy as a holder is required to determine this. Depression occurs quite often, especially in old dogs. This is because they find it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday life due to their age-related ailments. Even simple movements can be very strenuous and painful for older animals.

If a younger dog suffers from depression, it is in many cases the result of a drastic experience. This can be, for example, the death of a second dog, the demise of the master or even the placement in an animal shelter.

Another possible trigger that can lead to depression in dogs is excessive stress. This is caused, for example, by a permanent lack of sleep, a move, constantly recurring dangerous situations in everyday life or excessive physical and mental stress.

The Most Common Causes of Depression in Dogs at a Glance:

  • Old age (working dogs in particular often develop depression when they are suddenly no longer used.)
  • Stress (for example, due to lack of sleep or moving house)
  • Significant experiences (for example the death of the owner)
  • An inconsistent upbringing with a lack of clear rules
  • Frustration due to constant excessive demands on the dog

Treating depression in dogs

As the owner, you have a few things you can do to help your dog overcome his or her depression. First of all, however, it is important that you know the exact cause.

To do this, it is advisable to see a veterinarian. The veterinarian can examine your depressed dog to see if any physical ailments are a possible cause. In addition, the vet will ask you about your daily routine together. This will help isolate the cause of your dog's depression further so that appropriate treatment measures can be taken.

Depression due to being under-challenged

If a young dog suffers from depression even though he has neither physical symptoms nor had a drastic experience to cope with, the reason for this can simply be boredom and insufficient demands.

To help your depressed dog in this case, you should make an effort to challenge your four-legged friend more. If you regularly occupy the animal with exciting games, the zest for life returns. In addition, a dog sport appropriate for the breed can be helpful.

Depression caused by stress

If, on the other hand, the cause of your dog's depression is stress, the most important thing is that you reduce it as best you can. Provide routine for your four-legged friend's everyday life. Fixed processes give him security and help him to calm down.

Also, make sure that your dog gets enough rest and sleep. Depending on your age, this can be up to 20 hours a day. A dog that is electrified all day is inevitably stressed. In addition to depression, this can cause other health problems.

Depression due to illness

If the veterinarian finds physical complaints as the cause of your dog's depression in the course of his examinations, these must be treated appropriately. Which measures are necessary for this naturally depends on the exact disease.

But once the disease is under control, the symptoms also disappear. Your dog will feel fitter again and his zest for life will usually return on its own.

Depression in dogs - our conclusion

As you can see, dogs can suffer from depression too. The possible triggers for the mental problems are diverse and require a detailed investigation of the cause by the owner and a veterinarian.

However, once the causes of your dog's depression are known, the chances are good that you can get them back under control quickly with the right measures.

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This article was made by Manuela Vogt checked and revised!

Manuela Vogt
Animal caretaker & animal behavior consultant

Manuela Vogt is a trained animal keeper and has worked in animal shelters for many years.

She lives with her family, dogs, cats and rabbits in Northern Germany.