How to Identify Depression Symptoms in Dogs

There are several reasons why dogs become depressed, but whatever the case, owners must observe their pets' behavior to determine the cause and help their pet get their joyful character back to normal.  
How to Identify Depression Symptoms in Dogs

Last update: 30 September, 2018

Although many people don’t believe it, animals can get depressed and it has proven to take place in dogs. However, many people have questions as to why depression occurs, what depression symptoms in dogs are like, and how to treat their depressed pet. Do you want to know the answers?

Why dogs can get depressed

Depression symptoms in dogs are varied, and can be related to the following causes:


If your pet is adopted, and you adopted him when he was older, he may have come from an abusive household or was abandoned. It might seem like he’s sad all the time, but if you’re patient, you can earn his love and trust.

Three dogs showing symptoms of depression due to being locked up in a cage

Too much time alone

If you work many hours per day or spend a lot of time away from home, your pet might become depressed. Some breeds are better at being left alone than others. 

Depression Symptoms in Dogs

Make sure that the breed you choose adapts to you and your lifestyle. Otherwise, you could harm the animal rather than help him.

The death of a family member

If a family member or another pet at home has passed away, your dog may become depressed. Remember, sadness and depression aren’t the same. It’s normal for the animal to be sad for a few days, and not want to eat or go outside. However, when he acts in this manner for a while, and there are other negative symptoms, you have to find a way to take care of his depression.

Depression Symptoms in Dogs

Depression symptoms in dogs

In order to find out if your dog is depressed, you’ll be able to notice some signs right away in his behavior. Here are some of them:


Most likely, even while at home, your dog plays, moves about the house, sniffs things, and does plenty of things throughout the day. Although dogs sleep a lot, they move around at times too.

Depressed dog lying down

However, if your dog has stopped doing this, and is lying down all day, or goes back and forth from sighing to lying down again, then something’s not right. If your dog is acting this way, then figure out what changes might be going on in his life, and analyze whether he might be depressed.

Loss of appetite

Loss of appetite is one of the first signs of any disease, including depression. Pay close attention to how much your pet eats, and whether the amount has dropped considerably. He may be depressed.

Dog looking at his food bowl

He doesn’t feel like going outside

Whenever you say to a dog, “Wanna go bye-bye?” he normally will have an outburst of pure happiness. Has your dog stopped doing that? Also, has he stopped wanting to go out at all? This can be one of the most noticeable signs of depression.

A depressed Beagle looking out the window

He sleeps a lot

Sleeping more than usual is another depression symptom in dogs. As explained in another article, dogs have to sleep a certain number of hours all depends on certain factors, such as age.

Depression Symptoms in Dogs

If your dog sleeps more than usual, it’s a way for him to “pass time” more quickly, because he doesn’t want to enjoy it. 

Destructive behavior

If your pet has always been calm, but now has a destructive attitude and bites the furniture, scratches the sofa, goes to the bathroom in the house and does other things he has never done before, it’s possible that depression is causing it.

A Lab chewing up a roll of toilet paper

How to help a depressed dog

As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t confuse sadness with depression. But if one of these symptoms keeps repeating itself, you should go to the vet right away. If he is diagnosed with depression, apart from the doctor’s treatment, you can help your pet at home by doing the following:

  • Keep him busy
  • Play with him
  • Let him socialize with other dogs
  • Don’t leave him alone for too long.
  • It might be a good idea to look for a new pet to keep him company.
  • Buy him interactive toys.

Recognizing the symptoms of depression in dogs isn’t that difficult. It only requires observation and a little effort on your behalf. If your dog is depressed, stay calm–there’s a solution. 

If none of the things above work, it could be because chemical factors that are causing your dog’s depression. You’ll have to treat it with medicine that has been prescribed by a veterinarian.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.