Dogs Can Suffer from Depression — Here Are Signs to Look Out for and How to Diagnosis Them

Veterinarians will sometimes medicate dogs with prescription drugs to deal with depression

Jena Ardell / Getty Images Sad dog.
Jena Ardell / Getty Images Sad dog.

Dogs can suffer from depression, studies have shown.

According to, researchers in the 1980s found that canines can go through behavioral changes for various reasons, prompting them to experience extreme emotions, just like their human counterparts.

Information shared by the organization noted that some of the main signs of depression in dogs include "reduced activity levels and a desire to play," plus "clinginess or social withdrawal" and "a loss or change in appetite."

"Excessive licking that brings comfort" and "uncharacteristic wining or howling" are other signs of canine depression, according to the organization.

<p>Getty</p> Sad dog.


Sad dog.

Related: 'Drama Queen' Dog 'Pretends to Die of Dehydration' When Water Bowl Is Empty — Watch!

A big cause of depression in dogs, the organization noted, can be from experiencing a loss, which can range from that of a human companion or another pet living in the same home.

Dogs can also be affected by environmental changes, such as the addition of a new pet or baby, or from something such as a change in scenery from moving, per

Separation anxiety can also lead to depression, as can trauma from an injury suffered by a dog.

<p>Getty</p> Sad dog.


Sad dog. also highlighted various ways in which dog owners can help their pets deal with depression, including creating a predictable routine for them and making sure they are bonded with often.

Making dinnertime "exciting" is another way dog owners can help their canine companions battle depression, as is helping pups with their grooming.

Dog trainers, the organization noted, can help aid against depression in dogs, given that they help rid a pet of "established and unwanted behaviors through conditioning or positive reinforcement."

Getty Sad dog.
Getty Sad dog.

Related: Rescue Dog Has 'Beautiful and Heartbreaking' Reaction to Choosing Her First Toy — Watch (Exclusive) also highlighted when it is important for dog owners to seek treatment for their depressed canines.

According to the organization, this should be done when a dog's depressed mood remains the same over a long stretch of time.

Veterinarians will sometimes medicate dogs with prescription drugs, similar to ones that humans take for depression, including Zoloft and Xanax.

When prescribed, these medications, said, may take up to four to six weeks to kick in and show effective changes.

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