Is Your Dog Depressed?


This past year has been difficult for everyone.

There is not a person who has not felt lonely, depressed or isolated since March of 2020.

Though dogs are not up to the level of analytical thinking of humans, they obviously feel feelings. 

When we leave them, you can see sadness on their little faces. They whine and even cry.

When we return, joy radiates through their body while they jump, and bark sounds of excitement.

But do dogs feel feelings at the same intensity we do? 

Specifically, depressive ones?

According to the website of Purina, dogs can and do experience emotions which relate to human depression. This version of depression is called “canine depression”. 

Canine depression mirrors human depression because the similar causes.

Like humans, depression can be triggered by changes to their environment, routine, and social group.

As humans have the mental capabilities to understand the situations happening around them, dogs do not. For this reason, any type of major life changes are more difficult for them. 

Dogs like to feel safe and a sense of comfort. Moving to a new home, with a new routine and new people can give your dog a sense of shock. It might take a few weeks for your dog to become adjusted again. 

Dogs can feel canine depression simply by feeling bored. If your dog is left home alone all day, then they might start to feel like they do not know what to do all day by themselves.

This can lead to another cause of depression, which is loneliness. As dogs are social animals, they feel lonely when they do not have anyone to play with or keep them company all day. 

As dogs can enter in depressive states, they can also feel what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective disorder causes dogs to feel tired, sad, lonely, and withdrawn just as humans feel when they are experiencing SAD. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder typically happens in the winter and is caused by the lack of sunshine and cold weather.

Dogs tend to get less exercise outside during the winter with freezing temperatures and rain or snow. When this happens, They feel the intense sadness of not getting to do what they love, which can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

If you have noticed any personality changes in your dog and you feel they might be experiencing depression, evaluate whether any of the factors above could have triggered these feelings. 

If you do believe your dog is experiencing depression, call your dog’s veterinarian to make an appointment so your dog can be evaluated for canine depression of Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

If your dog does have either canine depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, your  veterinarian can help you engage in a plan to help your dog cope.

If your dog does receive a diagnosis for one of these, remember it is not your fault. It is important to try to give your dog the best life possible and by helping them through their depression, you are doing that. 

This past year has been rough on us all. 

Sadly, our dogs are not excluded from the difficulty.