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Dog Depression: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment Options

It is well documented that humans can suffer from depression, but it is lesser known that depression can also occur in dogs (canines). The degree to which a dog can “feel” depressed is up for debate and hasn’t been studied as in-depth as in the human population. However, many dog owners have noticed times when their dog seems to appear depressed and isn’t acting like itself. Symptoms of depression in dogs can be similar to those observed in humans: low energy, decreased excitability, poor appetite, and they just may not behave how they normally have in the past – their zest for life has suddenly disappeared.

Dog Depression Symptoms & Signs


The classic signs of depression in dogs are pretty comparable to those experienced by humans. Dogs can have days of being in good moods and other days where they feel a little irritable and depressed just like humans. If your dog seems particularly low energy, slow, and doesn’t seem to want to interact, depression is a possibility. It is however, important not to jump to conclusions that your dog is experiencing “depression” and not some other medical condition that is causing it to feel depressed.

  • Changes in behavior: Your dog may exhibit significant changes in behavior. It may act differently, become withdrawn, and seem as though it has lost all energy. It may not want to play, go for walks, and it may become irritable.
  • Decreased excitability: If your dog used to be excited to do things such as: play, go on a walk, and used to be amped up for you to get home from work, and now it seems lifeless, this may be a sign of depression.
  • Excessive sleeping: Does your dog sleep all the time? Although sleeping is common for dogs that are left at home all day while its owners are at work, continuing to sleep after they come home is abnormal. If it seems as though all your dog wants to do is sleep, this may be a sign of a bigger problem.
  • Inactivity: One classic symptom of depression is inactivity. Your dog may want to just sit in its bed or a comfortable area in your home all day. It may become extremely inactive to the point that it may not want to go outside.
  • Less energy: Your dog may have less energy to do things such as go on a walk and play fetch. It may also not walk around the house as much and seem like all it wants to do is sleep.
  • Limp tail: If your dogs tail isn’t as perky as usual, this can reflect their mood. If the tail is constantly pointing downwards and you’d consider it “limp” this may be a result of their depression.
  • Overeating: Although some dogs may not eat enough food, others may fall victim to overeating. This helps them mentally cope with feeling depressed so they may turn to food as a coping mechanism. When this occurs you will likely notice significant weight gain.
  • Poor appetite: Some dogs may not be eating as much food as they normally would, while others may experience such a significant lack of appetite that they may not eat at all.
  • Restlessness: Certain dogs may sleep more when depressed, but others may actually sleep less. Changes in sleeping patterns is a sign to keep in mind when thinking about whether your dog is depressed. If your dog used to sleep well at night and now it no longer sleeps, something may be wrong psychologically.
  • Urination indoors: Instead of going to the door and barking to go outside, your dog may be too depressed to get itself to the door. Instead it may end up peeing and pooping inside as a result of feelings of depression. Obviously if your dog is well trained and this starts happening, something is up.
  • Withdrawn: Your dog may stop interacting with you and/or other animal companions. It may keep to itself and stay away from the action. This is similar to social withdrawal in humans.

What causes depression in dogs?

Just like in humans, there are many factors that may lead to depression in dogs. Not all dogs experience depression as a result of a “chemical imbalance.” In fact, it is significantly more likely that there are other factors at play.

  • Abuse: Has the animal been abused by its owner in the past? Many dogs that are abused end up displaying signs of distrust, aggression, and depression. This is because they were not raised in a safe, compassionate environment. This phenomenon occurs in humans as well with parents that neglect and/or abuse their kids growing up – it leads to psychological problems.
  • Clinical Depression: If all other potential causes are successfully ruled out as being contributing factors to the dog’s depression, it may just be a chemical imbalance. If your dog has experienced depression for a long period of time and the etiology is unknown, this may be a case of clinical depression. In other words, your dog may need to take an antidepressant like Prozac as prescribed by a vet.
  • Death: If one of the dog’s siblings or its owner passes away, the dog may become depressed. Dogs are capable of developing strong emotional bonds with their owners and those that are around them most. If you take away someone of importance to the dog (e.g. its original owner), it may be devastated.
  • Depressed owner: If you yourself suffer from depression, it could be rubbing off on your dog. Most people with depression struggle to take care of themselves so taking care of a pet can be pretty difficult. Proper pet care requires a lot of energy and time, people that are depressed may not be taking proper care of their pets and this may lead to their dog feeling depressed.
  • Environment: Things going on in the environment around your dog can make him feel depressed and/or nerved up. If you move to a new home or recently changed its home, it may experience some depression as a result of change. Even something as simple as a schedule change in which your dog doesn’t get as much attention as it once had may result in it feeling depressed.
  • Loneliness: If your pet is at home alone nearly all day, 7 days a week, you probably shouldn’t be a pet owner in the first place. However, if you leave any dog in isolation long enough it is going to experience the sadness that accompanies loneliness.
  • Medical Conditions: It is always important to consider that your dog may have an underlying medical condition that may be making it depressed or seem low energy. It is extremely important to take your dog into a quality veterinarian to get checked up before you assume that its depressed behavior is just the result of a chemical imbalance. Typically dogs experience depression as a result of medical conditions – this is the most common cause.
  • Neglect: Pet neglect is a real concern these days. There are more people buying pets, but not people taking good care of them. If you simply don’t put in the necessary energy to train, take care of, and keep your dog happy, it is going to feel neglected and sad.
  • Old age: Some dogs simply get more depressed when they age.  They may be less active and interested in doing things.  Part of this simply is that they just don’t have the same energy level as a young puppy, but other times it’s because they sense that their time is almost up.  Read this for further information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249723/.
  • Seasonal Changes: According to the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals), changes in the seasons can have a major impact on the moods of our pets. For example, the summer months may allow pets to get more sunlight, run around outside more, and feel excitement in contrast to the winter months in which they may be cooped up inside most of the day. This phenomenon also occurs in humans that suffer from seasonal-affective disorder or depression in the winter months.
  • Weather Changes: Some dogs can freak out when there are big storms on the horizon. If you have been getting a lot of bad weather and storms in your area recently and this is when your dog started to become depressed, this could be the cause of how they are feeling. Dogs are also very sensitive to the changes in pressure that accompany storms. Many times they can “sense” a storm coming.

Dog Depression Treatment Options

Before you diagnose your pet with depression, make sure that there isn’t something that you could do to help it without medication. At this point you should have worked with your veterinarian to rule out all other potential medical conditions that could be causing it to feel depressed. You should have also thought about whether simple things like environmental changes and/or weather changes may have been making your dog act withdrawn and depressed.

Keep in mind that treating your dog with an antidepressant should be a last resort – these are powerful drugs that may create powerful changes within their brains. Over time, they may become dependent on these drugs for functioning – in most cases, they don’t need pills to feel better, they just need some good care.

  • Compassion: Be compassionate towards the way your dog is feeling. Give it some tender, loving care and show it compassion.
  • Extra attention: Give your dog some extra attention and this could help improve its mood. This will be especially effective if you haven’t been spending as much time with your dog as usual.
  • Feed it: Assuming your dog isn’t overeating, you may want to give it a treat every once and awhile such as some fresh meat.
  • Play with it: Do something like play fetch with your dog. Try to get it fired up and take it outside or to a dog park. It will appreciate the fact that you are giving it love and attention.
  • Socialization: If your dog lost one of its companions (e.g. brother or sister) that it typically played with, it may be grieving their loss. What might help is getting it out around other dogs at a dog park.
  • Time: Something as simple as giving your dog more of your time can help it recover from depression. You may notice that the more time you spend with your pet, the happier it is to get some attention.
  • Walk it: Do you exercise your dog enough? If not, this may be why your dog has become lazy and depressed. Dogs are not meant to sit around the house all day. Give your dog a chance to go for a walk and get some fresh air. Take it for walks every day and let it get some exercise.

Antidepressants for Dogs? SSRIs are a Last Resort

Antidepressants (SSRIs) are not some light drug to play around with or give your dog on a whim because you suspect they are depressed. Even if a veterinarian recommends that your dog try something like an antidepressant medication, you should only use it as a last resort option. Meaning, you should try to determine the cause of your pet’s depression and treat it with natural means. Something as simple as spending more time with your dog and giving it a little bit of extra attention can go a long way.

Antidepressants are not effective in all people, nor can you assume that they are effective in all dogs that take them. In fact, they may make your dog’s mood worse and since it is not capable of human communication, you will not know how it truly feels whilst medicated. I strongly advise against these medications simply because they do not always work for humans so we cannot assume that they are a miracle cure for dogs. Common antidepressants for dogs include: Clomicalm, Prozac, and Zoloft.

Why I wouldn’t give my dog an SSRI medication like Prozac

Even if your dog is depressed, there are a number of different things you can do to help it. SSRI medications typically take 4 to 8 weeks to work in humans. Additionally, these medications can make some people more depressed. We simply cannot assume that just because you give your dog Prozac that it is going to make it feel depressed – these medications could actually be making them feel worse even though you may not know it.

Although many pet owners are concerned for their dogs, how often do you walk your dog? Do you take care of it? Do you give it a little bit of extra attention? If so and your dog still seems depressed, then you may want to explore other options. However, just like in humans, all other behavioral options should be pursued before resorting to treatment with a powerful medication such as an SSRI.

Has your dog suffered from depression? Did you fix it?

It’s always helpful to hear from first-hand experiences with people who’s dogs have suffered from depression. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below. If your dog went through a rough time, how did you fix it? Were you able to successfully figure out the root of the problem and treat it without antidepressants?

Most people these days look for a quick fix for everything and are quick to give their dog pills instead of giving it proper care or trying to determine the root of the problem. Just because a veterinarian suggests that your dog may benefit from antidepressants does not mean it will target the root of the depression – many times it will simply mask it and will do nothing more than create dependency issues for your pet.

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{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Angie Woodham February 2, 2017, 9:01 pm

    I have rescued a female red nose pitbull that was abused. She’s 3-4 years old. All she does is lay around and sleep. Looks like she has had babies in the past. She does walk over and want me to rub her head, or sometimes jump in my lap and sit.

    She doesn’t play with toys, don’t run and play, and most of the time only eats something once a day. Bring her inside she just sleeps – not a lot of activity. Any recommendations on what to try or what may be wrong with her?

  • Tammy January 18, 2017, 6:30 pm

    My daughter has a Pomeranian Chihuahua mix named Seetie. She has had her since she was 8 weeks old she is now 12 years old. Seetie use to be excited to go for walks, play fetch, and bark whenever she heard the doorbell or a new voice in the house. Seetie now does nothing. My daughter has to hand feed her, bring water to her and carry her everywhere.

    Seetie had to have 20 teeth pulled because of gum disease. She has since healed from that but does want to move, she lays in her bed and barely gets up when new people come over. We’ve taken her to the vet they accidentally over dosed her on a medication but caught it in time. My daughter is highly frustrated seeing Seetie go from being so lively to doing nothing and thinks she is suffering in some way.

    Do you think she might be depressed? My daughter is with her constantly and loves on her all the time, we all do but she still thinks something is wrong. Can you please suggest something we might be overlooking? Thank you so much!!

  • Jessie January 11, 2017, 2:39 pm

    My 8 year old dog spots, is acting very different. Eating isn’t a problem, but she always hides away. She gets mad whenever I touch her front left paw, but nothing else. My dogs lost almost all reflexes and never gets up. She’s shaky and isn’t as excited as she usually is, she pees and poops inside, and I’ve tried to get my mom to go to the vet but she doesn’t seem to care.

  • Caren December 23, 2016, 4:18 pm

    We adopted a rescue dog who is perhaps 5 or 6. We don’t know much about her other than she was a stray. She was house-trained when we got her, so she was obviously someone’s pet. She lays around a lot and it’s been 2 months since we got her. We do plan to talk to the vet about this because we want her to be happy. She is slowly warming up to us. It took us inviting her up on the furniture to really gain acceptance.

  • Jashan December 21, 2016, 12:00 pm

    My dog isn’t eating anything from almost a week and she is getting weaker. She is just lying around. She usually used to get excited by the name of going out but now she is just lying around. I gave her some medicine, but that didn’t help. Maybe that’s some other problem. Please help me. She might die like this please help.

  • Angela from Bama December 19, 2016, 1:40 am

    I have a 1 year old chiweenie who is changed his attitude for about the last few months. He only shows aggressive behavior to myself and husband only but not all the time. It’s crazy, he can just be asleep and curled up next to you then you pet him the. He growls but then you make a noise of playing or he hears a sound of food or anything that distracts him and then he’s fine and good to go…

    I don’t see anything physically wrong with him at all, can’t possibly give him any more attention or love more than he get now. He goes to work with me every day and only alone while I go pickup food for lunch. During the summer we do travel a Lot and he was staying at a boarding kennel but I’m afraid someone hurt him there and he also ended up getting kennel cough while there during his last visit in Sept. I now have a babysitter in which he stays at her house with her pups and sleeps with her at night.

    He does seem to like that better for sure. But I know he loves us and don’t get to far out of my sight, always has one eye on me… when other visitors come to the office he acts as if he’s the best thing and loves on me like there’s no tomorrow but when they leave his little butt goes back to mean and growls for no reason as I try to touch him…

    I just don’t know what’s wrong with him. He wants me to touch and hold him but when we do he growls. Any thoughts available?

  • Margie Ridley November 27, 2016, 8:29 am

    My Pomeranian doesn’t want to stay in the house anymore. Will come in to eat or drink, sometimes even take a nap. But has a fit to go back outside. I don’t understand why. This has been going on for quite a few months.

  • GLORIA FULLER November 8, 2016, 8:02 pm

    We adopted a Labrador called Honey, who is nearly 8 years old. We have had her 10 1/2 weeks. She has yet to bark !, she came from a ‘good home’ apparently, or so we are led to believe, but have only the previous owners word for that. She didn’t come with a favourite toy, and doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys. I had some that I washed and was going to keep, that belonged to my last Labrador, who we lost to cancer at the end of January, but she just doesn’t want to know.

    I bought her a ball and that got a reaction for a little while, and she looked happy!! Unlike most dogs, she is not food motivated, so getting through to her is rather difficult. She doesn’t always eat her meals and she is not a big drinker. She is so gentle and loves greeting people at the door, and she is good where children are concerned. We haven’t been able to coax her out for a walk and when she needs to relieve herself, she has to be accompanied in the garden, she won’t go out alone.

    She gets upset at bangs she hears in the distance, it upsets her so much that even if she wanted to relieve herself she rushes back indoors ! Since the first lot of fireworks started, nearly 2 weeks ago, she seems to have got worse. She goes into the kitchen, sits down facing the sink, trembling, panting, salivating and occasionally whimpers. No matter what we do she ignores us, won’t accept treats and when eventually decides to come in the living room lays down and her head nods.

    We bought her an Adaptil collar and we also bought a plug in. We were told to put Rescue Remedy in her food until she settled down, but now she has it all the time, when she eats!! We read up on the Thundershirt and it had such good reviews that we got her one. We didn’t know what else to do so we got a behaviorist to see if she could help us to get Honey in the car without being so stressed, and to see if she could help us get her to go for a walk.

    She was very understanding, but apart from the initial excitement of greeting her, Honey was un-responsive. She said that Honey seemed to be ‘shutting down’ and that, before Firework night we should get to the vets for medication. We had to lift her, while she struggled, into the car to get her there. He gave us medication to give her. As we had her in the car we took her over the park and she seemed to enjoy herself, running after the ball and bringing it back to us.

    She wants more. We were going to give the medication 40 mins before the fireworks… I thought 5pm, they started at 4.30pm, but I think because she had had a good run, she was tired and eventually fell asleep. That was the 4th November. On the 5th, I gave her the medication at 4pm, but she needed another tablet at 6pm, she was shaking and salivating so bad. We cuddled and made a fuss of her, stroking her ears until she settled down.

    We have always had dogs from pups and none of them have been nervous. Honey is so nervous over everything and we are at our wits end, trying to be positive around her, but it is getting progressively harder, she is so sweet and if anyone can help us please let us know what we can do. We don’t want to give up on her, but if we don’t get some advice on how we can get through to her, we might have to.

  • Todd L & Jennifer A. Thomas September 17, 2016, 11:01 pm

    My wife and I just adopted a “rescued” 4 year old Cairn Terrier/ Yorkie from the ASVT here in The Woodlands Texas area. Her abuse experience was horrific, this we fully understand. We’re quite concerned as she has every symptom of depression (low appetite, not an over-eater). We have to saturate her food with peanut butter or chicken broth and practically hand feed her just to get her to eat..

    She seems to be so very sensitive. She hides under the bed if she feels uninvited to our activities. She literally lays around the house all day, looks so sad all the time unless we massage her, take her outside and stay with her, keep her active, stimulated constantly, she is with other dogs or outside chasing a squirrel up a tree. She seems different when outside.

    It’s devastating knowing what she went through and seeing the effect it’s had on her, but we notice her behavior is so very down when indoors with us. She shows no interest in anything in the house. She doesn’t like toys or playing at all. We simply don’t know what to do for her. Maybe a home with a second dog would be better for her, a playmate.

    Her hair loss is worrisome. We think it is from the abuse. It may just be anxiety. We’re concerned for her. We’re staying away from toxic meds as the abuse she experienced was toxic. Any advice?

  • Pauline September 5, 2016, 1:32 pm

    Reading through the comments it seems there are an awful lot of depressed dogs. Taking into account the stresses and strains of the world we live in, perhaps we pass this tension down to our pets – or just maybe they realize more than you know. They sense danger and we are living in turbulent times.

  • moytri August 31, 2016, 7:50 pm

    Hi, my Lab has stopped eating from few days and most of the time we find her sleeping. Sometimes in the middle of the night, she will start crying even if we are all there with her she won’t stop. Moreover, she has stopped playing and doesn’t want to come out of the house. I don’t understand we haven’t left her alone at all and we always pay special attention towards her so what could be the possible reason for such behaviour?

  • Amber August 19, 2016, 2:55 am

    We recently were given a dog whose owner passed away. We don’t think the dog is more than 5 years old but he is very inactive and reluctant to take walks. We are working with him, paying lots of attention to him, my kids adore him but he seems very (for lack of a better word) depressed. How can we help him? He is a very sweet dog and we want to help him feel better.

  • Charlotte August 12, 2016, 1:58 am

    We have a golden retriever who is 4 years. When Dad was divorced out of the house, his behavior went even worse than before. All he does is lie around. Very occasionally he will obtain a playful mood. He sees Dad sometimes, but it has been a few years into the divorce. He should have recovered. He does go running 2 times a week, and has daily walks. Please, help! I’ve been searching for answers for about half a year!

  • Natalia August 9, 2016, 1:36 am

    I have a female dog about 3 years old. She has hydrocephalus and went through chirurgical treatment this year. Most of her neurological symptoms have been improved, but her humor oscillates too much (happy angry). I thought about giving her SSRI, but, after reading your post, I’m not so sure anymore. I stoped working to be with her all the time, give her high quality food (though she eats very little) and I don’t know what else to do. Would you have any advice to give me? Thank you very much for your attention, Natalia

  • Josie August 6, 2016, 2:51 pm

    My partner and I have recently split and I have had to go lodge with a friend. They have two Tibetan terriers. Ollie, my Labrador, tolerates them but has started drooling much more lately. What can I do? Why does he drool so much? Please help. I love him to bits.

  • Ema July 11, 2016, 10:07 am

    We have 6 year old dog. He was always hyperactive, funny little dog. But during this christmas everything changed. We had to take care of our neighbor dog. Our pup loved to play with her. At the christmas morning we woke up and that dog which we had to take care of was just lying on ground, didn’t wanted to go outside, eat or drink, and after few hours she died… Our dog was watching everything.

    From then he is always sad, wont play anymore. He is just lays on ground near us, eats, drinks and thats everything he does… If you go outside with him he wont run excited anymore- he just walks slowly… Our family tries everything to make him happy again, we buy new toys-but he wont play with them neither with us, we spend much time outside with him, but that does nothing… Any advice how to make him happy again?

    • Charlotte August 12, 2016, 2:05 am

      Your dog is probably sad because the neighbor’s dog, his friend, died. This might not help much, but you should try giving extra attention. like, just one on one attention, talk to him. Also try finding him a new playmate. He may need a distraction from his grief. I hope it helps. We also have a dog with a dog suffering from depression.

  • Christina June 21, 2016, 11:05 pm

    I have a 3 year old Shih Tzu and she haven’t been eating or drinking for 2 weeks. I have taken her to the vet ran all test and everything came back normal. She’s still not eating and is losing weight. We been back and forth to the vet and they cant determine what’s wrong, I’ve spent so much money and still no answers. Now they want me to take her to a specialist. I have read the signs of depression and she fits most of the symptoms. What should I do next?

    • Charlotte August 12, 2016, 2:08 am

      Find the problem. Have you moved? Have one of your dog’s friends passed away? Try to fix the cause.

  • Melina Koufalis May 3, 2016, 4:22 am

    I recently pet-sitted my brother’s dog for 9 days and now they have returned. The children and parents love their dog but don’t treat her very special. No regular feeds (she was looking in the bin for food when they were home), daily walks or trips to the park. She gets dry food left sitting for her and nobody focuses on her for long.

    It is very sad to see especially how happy and loving she was too me. We had an adventurous time. Already she’s unhappy and chasing them for food while they eat in front of her. My brother is aggressive and the kids are rough. I am very sad to see all my discipline, routine, fun and love go unrepeated.

    Straight away I felt like crying. I have looked after a friend’s pet once before and even she knew about regular feeds and affection. I am not sure what to do. But I hate to see this. I feel really conflicted and I don’t know what to do or say… Any suggestions?

  • Lola and Pat April 19, 2016, 11:32 pm

    We just got our dog. She is 6 her owner died and she was with him at the time. A foster lady had her and she also has 2 other dogs. We picked her up about 4 days ago. She doesn’t east unless we give her some of our food. She rarely will take a treat. I have been walking her twice a day.

    She seems to like that. We have a big yard for her to play. She just wants to sleep and won’t play fetch or anything. All we want to do is show her love and let her know she will always be with us. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks!

  • Sandra Meredith April 7, 2016, 2:25 pm

    My dog is Great Dane and Pitbull mix. She is 16 months old. We had her spayed when she was three months old. She acts like she is depressed. I heard that female dogs that haven’t had any puppies and is spayed will get depressed when they get to that age. Is this true?

  • Alexis February 27, 2016, 1:51 am

    My dog, Cally, isn’t eating as much and is sleeping alot, her tail is limp, and she isn’t as active. Two of my dogs, Finnick and Lucky, both recently died while she was nearby between 1-2 months ago. What do you think I should do please? I think I need another dog for her own health but I’m only 13 and my parents won’t listen.

  • Ashley January 22, 2016, 7:35 am

    My mom passed away two weeks ago we lived together we got Harlee my dog when she was 5 weeks old she is six now and she is very attached to both of us. She just now starting to eat and drink water more but she has pooped in the house twice and hasn’t done that since she was a puppy. She doesn’t want to go outside unless I put her leash on her and take her out that is something she has never done before.

    She moans a lot and just wants to lay on the couch. I think she is having a lot of nightmares cause she jumps in her sleep. She was with my mom when she passed my aunt found her she said Harlee was jumping on my mom trying to get her to get up. She didn’t want to leave her side and sniped at my aunt. Mom and Harlee were very close. I feel so bad I’m trying to give her all the love and care but I have got on her case a couple times.

    I talk to her about mom and she just has sad eyes and looks at the floor where mom was when she passed and back at her chair. I feel bad leaving her alone but I have to work. I don’t leave her alone everyday I try to get people to stay with her if I’m not gonna be home for awhile. It just makes me sad that she is taking it so hard I don’t know what else to do she even tried to bite me.

    I wish there was something more I could do I know she’s grieving but she doesn’t like other dogs or cats so I can’t get her a companion. Everybody in my family says she is more human then dog. LOL. I don’t know what to do if anyone has a suggestions let me know please!

  • Jeninna January 19, 2016, 8:29 pm

    My dog is not supposed to run, jump, or play for a few months due to ACL injury. How do I prevent her from getting depressed?

  • Dena magiera January 15, 2016, 8:12 pm

    My daughter was given a Maltese at maybe 8 weeks old. He is now one year old, this dog will not eat unless you hand feed him and he eats little to no dry dog food. I boil chicken he will eat that sometimes. I read they don’t have a big appetite, but I worry because I feel he isn’t eating enough.

    With that said, this is her dog yet he is always on me. He gives me this sad look when I leave and he fights with my daughter like he bites her pants and shoes when I’m leaving to take her to school. He is very aggressive at times. How can I stop all this and help him eat better?

  • Judith January 13, 2016, 3:41 am

    Ever since my roommate and his little dog female left two months ago, my chihuahua male has not been the same. He has been losing weight and moves around all of the time. I never put the two together until today. It’s been two months and nothing is working to get him to eat. It’s like he wants to die. He is not fixed, but she was… does anybody have any suggestions?

  • Elle Jae December 19, 2015, 3:57 am

    Hi… My dog is a 6 month old beagle and she is a girl. I have 2 other dogs, her mother and her brother. The weather here in the Philippines is not good because for example, in the morning it’s sunny then later afternoon it will rain heavily. My dog’s name is Kelly she is really lovable, energetic, lovely, and playful, but because of the storm named Nona here in the Philippines, she began to be lazy, and did not even drink nor eat.

    She just lied down. I thought she was just hungry so I gave her some food. The next day it was bright and sunny, but it said in the weather forecast that it would rain later that night. When I went out to play with the puppies, Kelly did not participate, I thought something might be wrong with her… She used to be lively and energetic when playing with me, she would even growl at her mother and brother just to play with me more.

    Right now Kelly is still like that and it’s been 2 days. I cried and told her not to give up and keep fighting. To dog owners who have a similar situation, please accompany/stay with your dogs as much as possible.

    • Ingrid February 6, 2017, 4:01 pm

      Maybe she has heartworm. I hear it’s common near the equator.

  • Nancy Marchbank November 25, 2015, 8:11 am

    I have a 6 year old snoodle. My mother recently passed away. I have been the one responsible for handling everything. She lived out of state, I have made 3 1000 mile trips for weeks at a time. One trip my brother and I had an extreme fight. When my dog and I returned home she acted as if she was mad at me. She has always liked my brother. She would stay away from me. When I entered the room she would leave. She always slept with me but no longer would.

    The last trip was an extended time. She slept a lot but was also excited about the new surroundings. Since we returned she isn’t the same. She always wanted to be outside and chasing squirrel! Now she stays inside all the time. Well she just isn’t the same. The situation was very depressing for me. Is she also depressed for her own responds? And what can I do for her?

  • Kim November 10, 2015, 9:12 pm

    First may I offer a tip to pet owners with regards to their pet not drinking water. If you notice your pet hasn’t had any water. And you’re sure it didn’t lick up something you need to calling poison hotline while rushing them to pet hospital. ANTIFREEZE IS A KILLER TO ALL PETS, people too. It tastes good and animals like the taste. It doesn’t take much to kill a cat dog or toddler.

    But let’s say you just notice your dog’s not drinking and you’re sure it’s been some time since they had water. Go to the store and in the infant section get the flavored baby pedialyte and a dropper and give your pet full strength a few droppers full every 30 minutes and you can dilute it half water after the first few doses. It’s important to keep pets hydrated. It keeps everything working for them. I keep certain things on hand because you never know.

    Thank you for letting me get that in. I can’t believe how many pet owners were unaware of antifreeze causing death. So thank you I made it my thing to reach out and let people know certain things that leads to a better life for them and their pets life too. Now about the comments here: The one thing I gathered here is from reading all of these comments is not enough people are taking their pets to the vet. I’m not here to judge at all. I read many comments where yes it is depression by changes that are causing your pet to be down and sad.

    But many others were sheer cries for medical treatment. Please there are no. Profit organizations who can help you if you have a large vet bill. I know we live in a world of money is the only way to pay for things but trust me there are good people who are vets and no one should turn you down because you don’t have teddy money at time of emergency with your pet. If they do then it’s just a racket for them and I wouldn’t trust them with my beloved best friend ever!! It’s good when you ACQUIRE a pet to do the research on finding them a excellent VET, emergency pet hospital closest to your home (check these places out look for any bad marks against them) and a groomer, emergency pet nanny to help you if you have to leave town suddenly.

    This all makes things much easier if something does happen. And it will so be prepared and more relaxed during a stressful time. Your dog feels what you feel. You need to keep them calm. KEEP YOUR LIST ON YOUR FRIDGE!! Keep a list in your wallet too. I have a savings account I put together called “kids emergency fund”. In it I have money I don’t touch ever. I think I have it up to 3,000 now. And I’m happy knowing if something horrible happens I can handle it and not worry about eating or paying my utility bill later.

    But I’ll still ask for a discount! Because if they are good I will send to them at least 50 new customers. I like to spread the good word. About the article: excellent article!! You covered so much in the possibilities dept. I have one dog who is very quiet. I’ve had her since she was two hours old. Her mom was a shop dog exposed to many bad chemicals and illegal drugs. Her mom ate out of trash cans and even went a few days without food or water when pregnant with her two puppies.

    I was able to get the mom and two puppies but the damage to the puppies had already been done. It was my job to give the mom and puppies the best care I could. The mom dog was the sweetest most appreciative animal I cried when I had to put her down from the cancer that made her in such pain and caused her to not be able to swallow. That was a year after her puppies born. This mom dog was nine years old when she gave birth.

    I found an excellent home for one puppy but I kept the one who showed the most signs of the neglect before even being born. Sad. But I know what this dog now 4 years old loves. And daily I make sure she gets those walks. She is a great dog with a weird personality only I would understand from witnessing it all. She’s overly protective of me. Men especially are the ones I need to watch.

    Because a lot of macho men don’t react to a dog growling at them by just walking away. They always want to show her who’s boss. SORRY BUT YOU TOUCH MY DOG LIKE THAT I’LL SHOW YOU WHO’S REALLY THE BOSS!!! And so I must protect her while working with her on this. I have to physically bring her outside with my other dogs to play in the back yard. She likes just kicking it in my bedroom on her queen size bed I use to own. She thankfully lets me sleep there every night with her.

    I don’t sweat the small stuff with her. She is who she is. And her hearts so good! So my point is do you really know how your dogs mother was cared for? It has a lot to do with it. And if you have a rescue pet… Bless you! These animals have been hurt in ways you don’t even want to think about. And if you’re here reading all these comments and the article. You care about your pet. Good luck to all of you. I wish the world was full of good hearts like you!

    • Alexis February 27, 2016, 2:13 am

      Thank you, Kim. I really do care about my precious baby, Cally. She’s suffering depression from the death of 2 of her companions in less than 2 months. Both got hit by cars.

    • Lisa Menendez July 20, 2016, 9:52 pm

      Kim, you’re awesome! You have the biggest heart for animals and I appreciate all your rescue efforts, responsible pet ownership, and helpful emergency pet care tips here. Thank you! :) I wish every pet owner was as amazing as you are!!!

  • barbara November 5, 2015, 7:51 pm

    I just gave away my 18 month old pitbull who we had since she was 8 weeks old. I am in contact with the new owner… she is acting fine and playing in the new home… just won’t eat anything solid since I had her eat with us Saturday morning, almost a week ago. Two nights ago she ate a whole can of wet food, but that’s it. What can the new owner do? I am scared that she is sick or going to die.

    • Kim November 10, 2015, 8:18 pm

      You need to get her to a vet. Dogs eat everything. Do the new owners pay a lot of attention to her? A dog, it’s said, can go 21 days without eating but only 3 days not having water. I give my pets the baby pedialyte you buy in grocery stores in the infant baby section. I get a dropper and I give it to the pet full strength. After the first three doses, I dilute with bottled water a tiny bit. Keep your pet hydrated at all costs.

  • malvika October 12, 2015, 8:18 am

    I went to college last year and since then my dog has been staying alone for a lot of time. He stays on a separate floor (above ours) so only gets to meet my parents when they go up, I don’t blame my parents as well since its difficult for them to clean the house (my dog sheds like crazy!) so the solution was to keep him on a separate place. Although he gets a lot of space and comfort, but is alone most of the time.

    This time I came back and it broke my heart to see that he has become very quiet and withdrawn as compared to what he used to be. I have no idea what I should do since I am leaving in a month!And will be gone for another 6 months. My Mom tries a lot to be with him but always ends up being occupied with something. I just can’t see him like this!

    • Grace October 15, 2015, 7:40 pm

      Ask your parents if they would be able to keep a companion dog for him, that will cheer him up to no end!

    • Lisa Menendez July 20, 2016, 9:48 pm

      Ummm, there’s no excuse for how your parents are treating that poor dog. HIRE someone to vacuum, for God’s sake! One does NOT leave a dog isolated on a separate floor of a house – PERIOD. I CANNOT BELIEVE they think it’s acceptable to treat the dog that way, and furthermore, I’m horrified you are actually accepting their B.S. excuses! “Mom tries a lot to be with him BUT ALWAYS ENDS UP BEING OCCUPIED WITH SOMETHING.”

      Your parents are cruel and neglectful and should be ashamed of themselves. Shame on you for not taking more responsibility for YOUR dog! Clearly he is being abused – dogs are pack animals and need interaction to be healthy. This is a non-negotiable, darling. You are an adult and this is YOUR dog, not your parents’.

      When I was in college, I had dogs and I took care of them by working and living off campus. I would never allow someone else to mistreat them and whine about it, complaining that I couldn’t stand to “see him like this!” Grow up, buttercup. You’re responsible for another life now. You wouldn’t treat a baby like this, so get it together and treat this dog better.

      Otherwise you’ll carry the guilt for the rest of your life after he dies…which you should. You deserve to. Ugh. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU?!
      You make me sick. People like you should not ever have dogs.

  • Cindy October 11, 2015, 3:21 am

    I rescued a yorkie he is 7 his owner had obviously kept him caged. He paces will not let anyone hold him, he runs if he gets out pees and poops everywhere. He sleeps a lot, will not bark, or show any signs of happy. I have had him 3 months, feed him well and he paces. Comes by my chair, but when I reach to pet or pick him up he freaks out. I don’t know what to do. At first I thought he couldn’t see, but he doesn’t run into things. Any suggestions?

    • Kim November 10, 2015, 8:02 pm

      I have two yorkies. Male yorkies are harder to train and they always back up when you reach down to pick them up. It’s so frustrating. They are unique lil creatures. They don’t forget anything. So I would image your yorkie is still suffering abuse/neglect from previous owner. You’ll have to force the issue with your dog. Take him out to dog parks.

      Throw a ball to him. Even if he acts like he isn’t interested at the dog park take him again during busy times. Stay with him and let him learn to trust you. You can cook up white rice and feed him white mean chicken you cut up small. Give him small portions. Keep him away from a crate. A play pen is OK. Can you take him to work with you? He really has been damaged and that’s very sad.

      Yorkies are loyal friends who will stand up to a giant he couldn’t ever win against in defending you. Don’t give up. This dog had many unhappy years. He will pull through. It’s just gonna take some time. If you don’t have the time needed I suggest you ask for some help in this. A doggie daycare is an excellent choice.

      But you need to do it at first for only a half hour. Then an hour and so on. I know it’s a lot of work but you might find someone with a lot of time for this who isn’t about making money. Ease this lil guy into whatever you decide to do easy. Follow up and tell us how he is doing. GOOD LUCK.

  • Andrea August 21, 2015, 4:04 am

    I recently went away to college and had to leave my 8 year old cocker spaniel at home with my mother. He’s been attached to my hip since we first got him and leaving him felt awful. Since I left, he refuses to eat (even when offered treats) and sits in the corner all day hardly moving. Have you had any experience with long-distance depression and can offer any solutions? He’s reacted to my voice over the phone and I thought sending something with my scent may help.

  • Jericca August 20, 2015, 12:02 pm

    Every time I leave to go to work my husband tells me that my dog doesn’t eat. Doesn’t socialize. They have to pick her up to take her outside and pick her up to bring her inside. Everyone tries to socialize with her, give her treats, and play with her. But she doesn’t want to. She won’t eat when I’m not home. She will lay in one spot and not move until I get home. And I work 11 to 12 hour days. I don’t know what to do… Can anyone help me please?

    • Grace September 1, 2015, 9:28 am

      Maybe get your husband to spend more time with your dog while you are still in the house, she should then get used to him giving her attention while you are still in the house but ignoring her (like watching TV or something). Does this help??? If that does work then get your husband to take her out on walks. ?

  • Grace August 10, 2015, 11:55 am

    Our 5 year old English Springer Spaniel lies down in his bed every day looking very upset and lonely, we have two other dogs and we are sure that he’s not suffering from depression because he enjoys going out for his walks twice a day and he’s eating well. We also give him loads of attention and he probably holds the Guinness World Record for the most strokes and cuddles been given. None of our dogs have died recently and we have no idea what is wrong with him! If anyone could inform me with what’s going on I would be extremely grateful.

  • Marian Cox July 15, 2015, 9:53 am

    Our 12 & 1/2 year old maltese was put to sleep 2 weeks ago due to organ failure. We have 2 more dogs a mixed breed rescued dog & a pom cross maltese. The rescued dog has been with our vet but has got a good bill of health except that he is on steroids as one blood reading decided this. Charlie seems to be depressed and sits on the window most of the day. Any advice please.

  • Tammy July 13, 2015, 4:19 am

    My dad passed away 1 1/2 months ago. And my son and i have lived with my parents the last 4 years with our combined 6 dogs. The akita/husky hasn’t really eaten since my dad passed we have taken her to the vet twice. But they have found nothing wrong with her except she lost 8 pounds in one week. The vet put her on pepcid for heartburn, I don’t want to put her on medication for depression but not sure what else to do to get her to eat. The vet said as long as she is drinking she can go up to 3 weeks without eating. That worries me it seems like a long time to not eat.

  • JP June 16, 2015, 5:56 am

    In my high school years my dad moved away to a different state for a job. Of course, my dad was the alpha male in the home and the person my dog looked up to most. Sarge was definitely effected by it. Besides that, however, he had a great life, spoiled him rotten, took good care of him. We also lived behind the county fair grounds, in which case he’d take himself on night adventures at night by himself. He had freedom and a loving family most dogs never know.

    All of our lives started to change (I moved to away for college) my dad was on the constant changing jobs, moving back and forth. Sarge didn’t like these changes, but dealt with them. Then both my parents decided to sell the family house. This was a major deal for all of us. It was the house my brother, I and my dog grew up in. We had never known anything else, it was our rock. My mom moved into an apartment and hired someone to come and walk Sarge while she was at work.

    Usually we just put him outside with his electric collar so he could at least be outside at our family house while people were gone. Now, he was indoors most of the time. He didn’t just become depressed, he was frantic, almost every night for weeks. He would just cry and pant and have panic attacks. We tried dog antidepressants, I even took him to where I was living to see if he could adjust. He just cried all night every night. We decided as a family that it was best to put him down.

    The house was gone, my dad was gone for who knew for how long, and his freedom was taken away. Now, talking about this with others I have received a lot of criticism, like, “You killed your dog because you moved?”. or, “I’d give him away before I do that.” Riiiiight, because not only are you just changing his environment, you’re abandoning him to people he doesn’t know? From the people that raised him and has been there his whole life?

    I still love the crap out of my dog, and sometimes I wish we had held off on the decision, but considering his happy and full life that he did have and where his happiness ended, my guilt has really dissipated. I have also seen owners hold onto their dogs until their natural death, even though their physical health became devastating to the point where they couldn’t even get up to go outside, or see, or eat, or walk. Sometimes, you really need to evaluate the situation and make the best decision for your pet, even if it means putting them down. Its a major heartbreak and will always be, but the fact of the matter is you did the best you could.

  • Jenilee Ellison May 27, 2015, 4:32 am

    I have a Labrakita who lost his mate in June of 2014. He has had serious depression off and on since then. He has not been eating or drinking for 4 days. I took him to his veterinarian and she highly recommended the Adaptil Collar. That is a drug free collar that replicates the pheromones a mother dog secretes from her mammary glands for her pups.

    As soon as I put it on him he ate 4 healthy smile bones and 3.5 cups of food. He also drank lots of water! I haven’t seen Phoenix this happy since we put his mate down. That product has already made believers out of my family and I! It is so nice to see that he is no longer depressed!

  • Lyka April 22, 2015, 3:44 am

    We left one of our dogs alone one night for an hour or two. This dog doesn’t like to be left alone in the house. When we got back, blood was all over. She got wounds on her paws. Maybe she got it from scratching the door. Since that night she became withdrawn, she’s always under the sofa, she didn’t want to get out. I fed her the night after the incident and her appetite did not seem to change. However, she died the next day. My sister said she drank water before that but did not eat. And then after a few hours she drooled and had runny nose and had difficulty with breathing. A few more hours, she died. Could this be because of depression?

    • Young Wang November 6, 2015, 6:01 am

      Wow, really? Your dog obviously ate something poisonous… Why on earth did you not take your dog to the vet after it was drooling and had trouble breathing? My god… people these days, if you can’t afford to spend big money on an emergency, get insurance. Or do not get a pet, they cost crap load of money!

      • Chris January 18, 2016, 5:46 am

        Lyka is trolling.

  • Taylor March 2, 2015, 3:54 am

    My 1 1/2 year old chocolate lab, Sadie has been acting very different lately. I am actually sitting here with her right now. We have always gave her a lot of attention, usually more than our 7 year old black lab, Jo Jo. For a week straight now she has been throwing up often, rarely gets up from the floor/couches, etc. Every time I look over at her (which is a lot now) she is always sleeping or is just laying there. She never plays with Jo Jo anymore, or us. She was fine this morning when I had a sleepover and she was laying with all of the girls and playing with them. After they all left, she was back to what she has been doing.

    The weird thing is when the doorbell rang and people came in to pick up some of my dad’s fish, she never ran to the door, or started barking like she normally does.. She didn’t even have the slightest care that someone that she has never seen before was here. She has always barked and ran to the door excitedly or angry because shes over protective and she was a happy dog. Does she most likely have depression? Please tell me what I can do to at least change her ways of her mood. I am very worried about her.

  • adrian cotter February 19, 2015, 11:50 pm

    My dog Ruby passed away a few years ago and now her son Simba (who we still have) is really depressed. He won’t eat his own food but will eat ours, he is always clinging onto me with his head into me and when he is in his bed outside he tries to get out. I’m only 15 and I keep telling my parents but they won’t do anything.

    • Jenilee Ellison May 27, 2015, 4:48 am

      You might consider trying an Adaptil Collar. They are used for depression, anxiety, fears of noise and just calming them when upset.My Yellow’s mate was put down almost one year ago and he has been struggling ever since. He hadn’t eaten or drank in 3 days so I took him to his vet today who recommended this Adaptil collar. I immediately went and got one and put it on his neck. He ate four large dental chews and 3 cups of dog food and drank like he was never going to stop! So far I would consider this product a miracle for our beloved dog Phoenix!

  • karen January 8, 2015, 2:00 am

    We have a 7 year old Boston Terrier, Frankie, that is showing most of the above signs of depression. Eating is not a problem but he is listless, hides behind chairs, will no longer do any of the many tricks he knows and is pooping and peeing in the house even though he has access to outside. He is my daughters dog and they have lived with us most of his life. There are 2 factors that I think are contributing to his sudden changes.

    His “mom” just went from working days to a 12 hr. night shift and my dog, a mixed terrier, has started picking fights with him. They were raised together and both are neutered but my dog growls and snaps at him and it has resulted is several fights. We have really been heaping love and attention on Frankie and my daughter takes him to parks and for rides but he doesn’t seem to enjoy anything anymore. It is very sad. Any suggestions?

  • Jim Francis December 6, 2014, 12:11 am

    Depression in pets can be a difficult thing to deal with. I personally believe that connecting with your pet on an emotional level is critical in learning to deal with such situations. What has changed in your pets life? Think back to when your pet was perfectly fine and then the first time you noticed a mood swing in your pet. What is different in your environment? Are there new friends coming over? Do you have different partner or maybe your significant other has a new pet of their own.

    There are many reason these deep feelings could be causing your pet stress. I would also find a good vet to have your furry friend completely checked out. It could be something physical that your vet may discover from a checkup. A great vet in Toronto is Brimley Lawrence. You can tell by the way they treat your pet that they care about what they do. Pets can be great sources of comfort. We need to be there for them no matter how they are hurting.

  • Stefanie August 28, 2014, 6:26 am

    Hi I’ve had my dog for 4 years and he’s always done well with eating always eats small amounts always been happy I just recently got a kitten a month ago and now I notice my dog stopped eating and drinking I took him to the vet they took stomach X-rays and gave antibiotics he’s throwing up and not eating and is very weak he ate him milk bone treats but won’t eat or drink anything else can anyone help me?

    • Debbie August 26, 2015, 8:51 pm

      I assume a new kitten means you are spending more time with the cat when he is used to being center of attention. Spend more time with him and work with him to feel more like the kitten and he are family. He’s been alone for 4 years so he needs compassion and integration during his period of transition from “only child” (next time ease into bringing a new pet home) . Take him for walks, play with him and definitely keep up his usual daily schedule, some dogs react strongly to changes in schedule and environment.

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