Dogs come with a wide range of feelings and emotions, one of those emotions is depression, which is very common in adopted dogs. Similar to humans, dogs can find themselves down in the dumps for extended periods of time. There are many reasons why your canine might be sad and there are many ways to cheer them up.
Understanding why your dog is depressed is one of the biggest things to learn before enforcing a change. Depression is not a light mental health disorder to discover and overcome, but we are here to help you understand why your dog is feeling this way and how to improve their mood.
Reasons why your adopted dog might be depressed:
- Physical Illness
- Environmental Changes
- Weather or Seasonal Changes
- New Baby or Pet
- You – The Owner
Grief of Losing Their Companion
You just adopted a new dog and they don’t seem to be as playful and loving as you hoped, well, did you get the background story on why this dog was up for adoption? It could be very possible your dog is grieving the loss of their previous owner, which put them in an adoption shelter. Dogs create strong bonds with their two-legged family members and losing someone close to them can definitely be a cause for their sorrow.
Physical Illness is Mentally Draining
If you start to notice your fur baby is acting a little sadder than normal, there might be some underlying health issues that haven’t been diagnosed yet. It is important to rule out any physical illness that could be causing extra stress or anxiety. We recommend having routine check-ups scheduled annually and to contact your veterinarian if any abnormal signs and behaviors begin to occur.
Environmental Changes Trigger Anxiety and Disloyalty
With adoption comes change, they go hand in hand. Just like humans, it takes time to adjust to a new home and new roommates. Environmental changes can include:
- Moving to a new home
- Change in location
- New family members
- Other pets
The dog has been placed in a shelter with many other rotating pets and employees. They are constantly interacting with new people, new animals, and new living situations. Moving them from family to family can give the dog anxiety and the lack of loyalty that they desire. If your newly adopted friend continuously has their surroundings changed, it can lead to loss of tail wags and kisses.
Weather or Seasonal Changes Affect Mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very common in many mammals, mostly those that can talk, yet it is still fairly familiar in animals as well. It is a repetitive pattern that is triggered by:
- Minimal sunlight
- Colder seasons
- Changes in the weather
- Altitude and pressure changes
If you notice your new pooch has a lack of motivation and is sleepy on most rainy days or during the winter, they might be experiencing SAD. Just like humans, the changes of the weather can have a significant effect on their happiness levels and overall mood.
Fear of Abandonment
We hope that if you decided to adopt a dog, then you put in the time to learn why this dog was at the Humane Society to begin with. It is not uncommon for owners to decide they do not want or cannot take care of their four-legged family member anymore and chose to give the dog to an adoption shelter. This can lead to a fear of abandonment for the pup, which ultimately is shown through not wanting to play or go outside. Keep in the back of your mind that your new best bud might need some extra love and attention to prove you won’t leave them too.
A New Baby or Pet Redirects Your Focus and Attention
Just like a big brother or sister, if there’s a new kid in town the focus might switch up a bit. When another family member is brought into the mix, it can lead to jealousy and the feeling of being ignored. Allow the dog to become friends with the new baby or pet and show them that they are all loved equally. Finding a balance to ensure your pup is still receiving the belly rubs they deserve is key.
Your Mood is Contagious
Have you ever been sad or felt a cold coming on and noticed that your dog tended to stay by your side? Dogs are really good at sensing a shift in energy, whether that’s positive or negative. They might be wanting to console you and begin to share similar symptoms of sadness and
melancholy. If you are dealing with depressing thoughts, it is possible that they might begin to reflect on your dog as well.
Warning Signs to Keep an Eye Out For
So now you’ve adopted a furry friend, yet something seems off. Dogs don’t have the ability to tell us what is going on inside although they can show us through their actions.
Be on the lookout for these five warning signs if you think your pooch might be dealing with depression:
- Change in sleeping habits
- Loss of interest
- Change in diet
- Excessive self-soothing
- Clinging to owner
Change in Sleeping Habits Shows Fatigue
Dogs like to sleep, that’s a known fact, but if they sleep too much or too little, something more in depth might be going on. Some prime indicators of possible depression or anxiety consist of:
- Excessive sleeping
- Hiding behind furniture to sleep
Dogs typically sleep longer than humans do, for about 10-12 hours a day. However, if you start to notice that your dog is sleeping for longer than 14 hours a day or is uneasy at night, you may want to contact your veterinarian.
Loss of Interest Relates to Low Motivation
Just about all dogs are eager for an afternoon walk or a game of fetch, yet some dogs tend to lose interest when they are feeling low. Take note if your dog goes from being excited to get outdoors to not feeling motivated to get off the couch.
Change in Diet Could Be Caused from Anxiety
A strong sign to detect if a person or pup is feeling down is based on their appetite, or the lack thereof. Occasionally dogs will stop eating to get the attention of the owner to show that something is off.
Another possible sign is if you and your family decide to go on vacation without your poochie and ask your neighbor to help out, they might not eat due to separation anxiety. As we stated above, dogs take time to adapt to environmental changes and they can react by altering their eating habits.
Excessive Self Soothing for Psychological Assistance
If your pup is not feeling loved or given attention, they might begin to soothe themselves. This method reassures them through the subconscious act of showing and receiving affection. Paw licking is the number one sign to excessive soothing, which can lead to painful, raw, and red paws.
Clinging to Owner Indicates Fear of Abandonment
Spot on with one of the causes of depression, if you realize your dog won’t leave your side then they might fear that you will leave them. Recognize that your pup might’ve had a traumatizing past that has enabled them to feel lost and lonely.
7 Ways to Brighten Your Dog’s Mood
Whether your dog has been diagnosed with depression or not, they still may require a little extra attention and an extra boost of energy. Try to be available to your adopted pup and remember they are family now.
Brighten up your dog’s mood with these easy activities:
- Give extra loving
- Get outdoors for sunshine and exercise
- Play relaxing and upbeat music
- Go to the park to be social
- Allow a few extra treats
- Play with a new toy
- Make puppy play dates
When you notice your dog does not have the motivation to engage in these activities, allow them to be in a positive environment to help increase their dopamine levels.
Be There for Your Pooch
If your adopted dog is showing depressive symptoms, we recommend calling your veterinarian. Remember to stay positive and patient and to treat your dog as if it were you or your child dealing with depression. They don’t say the phrase ‘dogs are people too’ for nothing!