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Dog Depression

A Common Sick Dog Outcome

Dog depression is more common than you might think; and hard to diagnose. With a dog ear infection, ear scratching is an obvious signal of a sick dog. Depression is harder to read; yet still results in sick dogs.

Depression in dogs isn’t unusual. In fact it is one of the many conditions that we share with our canine companions. Perhaps you’ve got a sick dog with something like a dog ear infection.

The symptoms for that are obvious: head shaking and ear scratching and whining. That’s just one example of how sick dogs may illustrate an obvious problem.

However, illustrating depression is less obvious; and therefore more difficult to accurately diagnose


My son adopted a boxer/bulldog cross from the local shelter and took her to his home. At two years old, she had spent much of her life in the shelter (she’d been returned two times). She had dog aggression issues (fear aggression). And she appeared to have been abused by previous owners - afraid of raised voices (even if in play) and some signs of scars.

When he took her to his home, it took months for her to become accustomed to her new home and for her to trust in him. She moped around his house for a while, looking pretty sad. Then she got what I would call ‘obsessive compulsive’ about her toys (probably from not having toys or her own space in the shelter).

She’s been with my son for 5 years now and is a happy, playful pet (although starting to show some aches and pains of arthritis). She still is not good with other dogs; although she accepts and plays with the canine at our house, Harley, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She even shares her toys with Harley, but she does like to be the dominant dog of that pack of two. Her dog depression issues revolved around trust issues; and only time seemed to make a difference for her.

What are the Symptoms of Dog Depression?

Similar to depression in people, dogs may start getting lazy. They don’t seem to want to do anything. They may lose weight and refuse water, and be oddly restless. That old game of 'toss the ball' no longer captures the canine’s interest along with the favorite blanket or toy. Additionally they may begin to shed more hair and become aggressive, when they would normally be happy and responsive.

Why is my Dog Blue?

There are any number of reasons why a dog might begin to seem depressed. One of the biggest ones is a change in his or her 'cave' or 'clan'. Have you moved recently? Did you have a baby? Did a son or daughter go to college? Dogs are very social animals and the changes in their environment impact them in very real ways. If you answered yes to any of these questions the best approach is to give the dog something that smells like what they miss - a shirt from your child, for example.

New babies represent a slightly different challenge. In this case the dog may feel replaced. You have to show him or her that they’re just as important as before (just as you may be doing for human siblings).

Dog Depression: Is My Puppy SAD?

Dogs have shown some very strong reactions to weather. Canines that live in northern climes where sunlight wanes may become depressed during the winter. This effect is doubled if their human counterpart has similar problems.

Additionally, dramatic changes in weather (like tornados) can impact the dog’s mood because they feel the atmospheric changes. For example, epileptic dogs have more seizures when the weather is changing. While this is not a 'mood' issue, it definitely shows a connection to brain chemistry.

Treatment for Your Sick Dog

Discuss the problem with your veterinarian. If all else fails, your vet may recommend medication; dogs that illustrate chronic depression can be treated with very similar medication as their human counterparts. It requires a prescription, but Prozac and Valium are two examples of common medicines for dog depression.Veterinarians may also recommend natural, healthy remedies and treatments.

We recommend a product called PetAlive PetCalm Formula; for anxious and stressed pets (stress can cause depression in dogs).

In addition to natural remedies, it’s important to get your dog 'up and out'. The social nature of canines needs to be recognized and nurtured. The more they can interact with their humans, other dogs/pets, etc. the better they’ll feel. It may require coaxing on some days, but it’s well worth the effort.

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