Dog Depression: Fact or Fiction?

Homeless Man’s Best Friend
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”Beverly and Pack”
Dog Depression

Dog depression is somewhat controversial in that many don’t believe that their dog can be depressed. However, all animals, including dogs can suffer with depression. Take notice and see if your dog has been acting strangely? Does your dog mope around, have a loss of energy, seem sad? Dogs can get Dog Depression from time to time.

As in humans, depression can be situational – being the result of a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one (man or animal). Or it can be chronic. Often times it can be the result of a medical problem so it is important to get it checked out by a veterinarian. There are medications that the veterinarian can give your dog to fight the battle of dog depression.

My dog, a chocolate lab, was on Prozac two different times in his life. The first time it was because he was aggressive with me, trying to be the alpha so the Prozac calmed him down enough so that I could re-train him (and show him who’s alpha!). The second time was when he lost his best friend, my yellow lab, suddenly. For months he laid around, had no energy and seemed so sad. He never pulled out of it so he was treated with Prozac. It worked wonders and now he is a happy member of our family again!

Signs of Dog Depression

As previously mentioned, dogs can exhibit the same signs as humans do when they are depressed. Therefore, some of the symptoms to look out for include the following:

  • Overly sleepy

  • Abnormally mopy, exhibiting a lack of energy

  • Moving around slowly

  • Extreme weight loss or weight gain

  • Loss of appetite or increase in appetite

  • Consuming less water than usual

  • Lack of interest in playing

  • Exhibiting aggression

  • Anxious or restless behavior

    What Are the Causes of Dog Depression?

    Change of season:

    Seasonal changes, or many consecutive rainy days, can temporarily depress your dog. Particularly if it effects your dogs ability to play and romp around outside. Often times during the winter there is an increase in cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Dogs are just as prone to experiencing this as adults.

    Changes in the environment

    If someone in the household, man or animal, gets sick or passes away, this can lead to depression. In the case of my dog, it absolutely did! Dogs love just like humans so they are capable of grieving just like we are as well. A family vacation or birth of a new baby can also lead to depression.

    Chemical Imbalance

    This leads to chronic depression and, as mentioned, can be treated with medications prescribed by your veterinarian. I mentioned Prozac but Phenobarbital and Valium are sometimes used as well.

    Lack of Attention

    As with humans, dogs need love and affection as well and when they don’t get it they can get depressed, even aggressive. So, be sure to give your dog and other pets love and affection each and every day.


    Yes, dogs can get depressed and if you suspect depression please bring it up with your veterinarian. He/she will need to rule out other medical problems, come to a diagnosis and determine proper treatment. In the meantime, give your dog lots of love, play time, grooming and TLC to let your dog know you care. They are part of your family too!

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