Why Your Dog Seems Sad and Depressed All of a Sudden
Just like humans, dogs react to their environment. If there’s a sudden change, like the kids going to school or you taking extra shifts, you might notice that your dog seems sad all of a sudden. His once lively demeanor is replaced by unhappiness that could make you wonder if your pet has depression.
My Dog Seems Sad All of a Sudden, Is It Depression?
First off, you should educate yourself as a pet owner. The word “depression” has been thrown around lightly in today’s digital age. You should remember that depression is chronic or long-term. It’s way different from experiencing short episodes of sadness. If your dog seems sad all of a sudden but then livens up the next minute, it’s most likely just a case of the blues. Know the difference.
In diagnosing depression in pets, doctors have a hard time because there are no biological tests to pinpoint the condition. Similarly to how humans get diagnosed, your vet or a specialist will rely on the following major warning signs:
- Changes in appetite – your dog could lose weight because he is eating less or gain weight because he has made food his sadness reliever.
- Sleeping all the time – dogs love to get some rest, but if yours doesn’t react to your presence much (as in he still sleeps even when you just arrived from work), it’s a warning sign.
- Not interested in activities anymore – before, your dog may be wagging his tail when you hold his leash to go for a walk. Now, it’s not as interested in the activities (any activity, like fetch) he once loved.
- Hiding and avoiding contact – your dog seems like he wants to be left alone. In most cases, this happens when dogs either have an injury or depression. If nothing is wrong with your dog physically, it’s likely his state of mind.
Common Causes of Doggie Depression
You might be thinking, “What could dogs possibly be depressed about?” Yes, we may love our pooches and shower them with attention all of the time, but dogs also have feelings and personalities too. They also get upset or sad just like us humans, especially when there’s a sudden change in their environment or routine. Some of the common reasons include:
- Moving from one place to another
- Loss of a loved one
- There’s a new member of the family (including new pets)
- Your pet is staying at a friend’s house temporarily
- There’s a change in your work schedule (as in putting in more hours at the office)
- Your own depression
What To Do Next
After seeing that your dog seems sad all of a sudden, check for warning signs. If you observe any of the warning signs in your dog, it’s time to pay your vet a visit. He or she will, first, rule out physical illnesses as some of the symptoms mentioned for doggie depression can also be symptoms for other diseases.
When everything is in the green physically, your vet might suggest some activities for you to do on your own to help your dog cope with his changed mood.
For example, your vet might instruct you to be consistent with your daily routine. Meal time, playtime, grooming, exercise and bedtime should follow a structured schedule. If your dog has not desire to eat, you could keep mealtimes the same, but have him chew on a knucklebone afterwards.
Important Notes To Remember
It’s tempting to give your dog more love and attention when he is sad. Unfortunately, doing so only reinforces the bad behavior. Never reward inactivity or lack of appetite with affection.
Instead, give your opportunities for positive reinforcement to take place. Go for a walk around your block, play a game of fetch, give your pet a food puzzle toy or other recreational items such as a raw bone.