If something significant has changed in your home recently, you may have noticed a change in behavior in your dog. Maybe they seem less interested in doing things they typically enjoy, or maybe they’re eating or playing less. Some of the symptoms you’re seeing may even strike you as signs of depression or sadness. Do dogs feel these emotions, though?
Humans are often guilty of putting human emotions on our pets, so it can be difficult to tell what’s genuine when it comes to our dog’s emotions. Let’s talk about whether or not dogs can feel sadness or depression.
Can Dogs Feel Depressed or Sad?
Yes, dogs can absolutely feel depressed or sad. While they may not exhibit symptoms of clinical depression in the way that humans experience it due to imbalances within the brain, dogs are capable of experiencing situational depression or sadness, like that associated with grief, change, or illness. It can be difficult to determine if your dog is feeling sad simply because they can’t tell us how they’re feeling. In these situations, it’s a good idea to think of your dog like you would a small child. They may not be able to verbalize their feelings, but their behavior will give you clues as to how they’re feeling.
What Should I Do If My Dog is Depressed or Sad?
Sometimes, sadness will resolve itself with time. This is common in situations where your dog is showing signs of sadness due to the loss of a companion or a major change in the household, like a new baby. During these transition periods, it’s a good idea to work with your dog on finding some sense of normalcy. It’s also a good idea to institute some form of routine. It may be different from your previous routine, but a daily routine can help dogs significantly during transition periods.
If you’re noticing that your dog is having symptoms like inappetence, lethargy, or a loss of interest in things they typically enjoy, then a vet visit may be in order. If there’s no obvious reason for these symptoms, a vet visit is definitely needed. Some symptoms that we might take as depression can actually indicate a physiological problem. For example, illnesses like cancers, kidney disease, and heart disease can all lead to discomfort for your dog and an overall sense of not feeling well. The worse your dog feels, the more likely they’ll be to seem sad. Your vet will be able to rule out physiological issues and help guide you in caring for your dog through their period of sadness.
It’s important for us to keep in mind that dogs are highly intelligent, sensitive animals. Even if nothing in a household has overtly changed, your dog might show symptoms of depression or sadness based on your emotions. They may also feel unnerved or stressed by minor changes in the home that you might not have considered to be a cause, like new furniture or rearranging things. Make sure to talk to your dog’s vet if you notice any changes. This will help you rule out medical causes of the symptoms and ensure your dog gets prompt care if there is a medical cause.
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Published for: WATPFC