You may have noticed that your dog is acting a little differently lately. They seem to be sleeping more, or not responding when you call their name. You could just chalk it up to the weather, but what if they’re actually sad? This article will teach you how to tell whether your dog is happy or sad, so you can help them feel better!
How to Tell if Your Dog Is Sad
Here are a few ways that you can tell if your dog is sad:
Look For Changes in Behavior.
If your dog is usually playful and happy but has been spending more time sleeping, it may be sad.
The key here is to identify changes in behavior. For example, if your pup normally loves taking walks, but has been refusing to go outside lately, that could be a sign they’re feeling down.
If they are normally friendly or relaxed around other animals but suddenly become aggressive, this is another sign that something may be wrong.
Watch for Changes in Mood
In addition to changes in behavior, you should also look out for changes in mood. For example, if your dog has always been upbeat and happy but starts whimpering or whining more often, this could be a sign that they’re feeling down.
Your dog may not want to cuddle or be around people as much as they usually do. This can also be a sign that they’re feeling down.
Check Their Body Language.
Dogs who are depressed will often hang their heads low or cower when approached.
Their ears may be back and they might have a generally sad appearance.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s possible that they’re feeling down.
Keep an Eye On Their Appetite
See if they’re eating or drinking less than usual. A loss of appetite is another sign of depression in dogs.
Your dog may also drink more than usual or urinate frequently, both of which can be signs they’re feeling down. This is anxious behavior caused by depression.
Since hydration and nutrition are so important for a dog, it’s important to take action if you notice a significant decrease in drinking or eating for more than a day.
Monitor Your Dog’s Energy Levels
Dogs who are depressed may also have low energy levels and appear to be very tired all of the time.
They might not want to play or run around as much as they usually do. They may also sleep for longer periods during the day or stay in one area of the house for an unusually long period of time.
If your dog is seeming more lethargic than usual, it’s worth checking in with your vet to see if there could be an underlying issue causing the depression.
Excessive Barking, Howling, or Whining
Dogs who are feeling down may also start excessively barking, howling, or whining.
This could be a sign that they’re trying to communicate their unhappiness to you. Pay attention to when they are doing this and see if there could be a cause.
Although excessive barking can sometimes just be for attention, it’s usually worth checking in with your vet to make sure everything is okay, since dogs don’t normally bark excessively unless something is wrong.
Why Is My Dog Sad?
Once you’ve identified that your dog may be sad, you might wonder why they’re feeling this way. There can be many reasons for depression in dogs, but some of the most common include:
If your dog has recently moved, had another pet pass away, or lost their favorite toy, it could cause them to feel down. These changes can make a dog feel anxious or unsafe, which can lead to depression.
If your dog is unwell or has been injured, it may become depressed as a way of coping with the situation. In order to identify what’s wrong, you should take them to the vet and rule out any physical issues.
They may have an underlying illness or condition which can cause depression. Some conditions that cause depression in dogs include diabetes, Cushing’s disease, inflammatory disorders, and kidney or liver problems.
Lack of Exercise
If your dog isn’t getting enough activity throughout the day, it may become unhappy as a result of this lack of stimulation. This may be because of a change in their routines such as a reduction in daily walks or playtime.
They may be feeling down because you’re not giving them enough mental or physical stimulation throughout the day, which could lead to depression. If your dog gets regular exercise but suddenly stops, this is a red flag that they might be depressed and should see their vet right away.
As a dog ages, it will be less able to stay physically active as well. This transition can be tough on a dog, causing it to become unhappy and depressed.
Unfortunately, many dogs have gone through highly stressful events in their lives, such as being abandoned, abused, or injured.
This can cause them to be depressed and anxious for a long period of time after the traumatic event. Even years after the traumatic event, your dog could still be experiencing long-term depression from what happened to it.
In some cases, a dog’s experience with trauma might lead to PTSD, which can cause severe anxiety and depression that doesn’t go away on its own. If your dog has experienced any type of serious trauma in its life, it is worth taking your pup to the vet for an assessment as it may need treatment for depression.
Long periods of isolation can lead to grieving and depression, just as in humans. Dogs who are used to being around other dogs, people, and animals may become withdrawn and sad when they’re no longer able to take part in all that stimulation.
If a dog spends a lot of time on its own, the risk of sadness compounded with a sense of boredom will often result in destructive behavior from your pup.
So consider bringing them along with you on errands or inviting friends over for an evening so they don’t have too much downtime at home.
Many dogs who have separation anxiety will become depressed when they’re left alone for a long period of time. This can be especially difficult if you work full-time, go to school, or travel. You may struggle to find someone reliable that your dog feels comfortable with being around all the time.
Separation anxiety is a very common issue many dogs face, and it can be difficult to find a solution that works for both you and your pup. Your dog may become depressed if they’re left on their own too often because of separation anxiety issues.
If you have created an overly dependent relationship with your dog, it may be especially difficult for them to deal with the separation.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Just like with humans, the change in the seasons can have a significant effect on dogs.
They may start to become more lethargic, begin sleeping for longer periods of time, or lose their appetite as the weather gets colder.
If your dog begins acting abnormally during different seasons despite no other changes in its routines, it could be suffering from seasonal depression due to a lack of sunlight.
Even though it is less common, dogs can get SAD just like humans.
Sometimes training can have an adverse effect and can leave dogs feeling down and discouraged. If your dog isn’t responding well to training or has trouble following commands, this could be the source of its unhappiness.
If your trainer uses methods such as fear, intimidation, or physical punishment as a training tool, this will often have a negative effect and can lead to depression.
Another common issue is owners who don’t follow through with their dog’s training over time because they get busy. This lack of consistency could really harm your pup’s confidence in you which will cause them to be depressed over time.
How to Get My Dog to Be Less Sad?
It can be hard to know how to help your dog if it is showing signs of depression, but there are certain things you can do to help them feel better.
Some ways to help your dog cope with sadness include:
If your dog is suffering from loneliness, boredom, or isolation, providing them with positive stimulation is a great way to help them feel better.
Make sure to take them for walks, visit dog parks, or invite friends over who will want to play with your pup.
Dogs need interaction with other animals and people in order to be happy and healthy, so make sure to provide plenty of opportunities for socialization.
You can also stimulate your pup by talking to it, singing to it, or even playing music for them.
Routine and Schedules
Just like humans, dogs also thrive on routine and schedules. Try to keep their feeding, potty break, walk, and bedtime schedule as consistent as possible.
This will help your dog feel secure and happy, as well as make their life more predictable and calm. You may even find that you benefit from this habit once you get used to it!
If your dog is physically active, this can help with the reduction of stress as well as the release of endorphins, which will make them feel happier.
Playing fetch, going on walks, or taking your dog to the park are all great ways for them to get some exercise and be happy. Consider investing in toys that can help your dog be more active, such as a Frisbee or a ball.
Consistency in Training
If your pup is struggling to follow commands, it may feel discouraged and become sad over time. It’s important that you create a training regimen with very clear expectations for when they’re using positive reinforcement or negative consequences.
Make sure to focus on positive training methods such as rewarding good behavior and never using physical punishment or intimidation.
Offering Love and Affection
One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to show them a lot of love and affection.
This will help them feel reassured that they are still loved and valuable even if they’re struggling with some issues.
Make sure to spend time playing with your pup, petting them, and giving them lots of attention when they’re sad. Let them lay next to you or on you when you’re relaxing in the evening.
Encourage them to stay by you when you’re working in other areas of the house. For example, place their dog bed in your home office while you work. Then, when it’s dinner time, you can relocate it to the kitchen.
Dogs are pack animals and it gives them a sense of purpose and meaning when they feel connected to you.
Getting Professional Help
If your dog is experiencing long-term depression from a traumatic event, it may be necessary to seek professional help.
There are many qualified veterinarians who have experience in dealing with pet depression. They will likely be able to recommend medication or therapy that can help your pup feel better.