Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & How You Can Help

Just like their human counterparts, dogs can feel anxious or depressed. While signs may indicate these or other issues, the good news is that you might be able to help them feel better with these tips from our Zeeland vets. 

Is my dog depressed?

Your dog's behavior may yield some insight into whether or not they are well. If your dog displays three or more of these symptoms, a visit to the vet is a good idea to find out if they are feeling depressed, anxious or something else:

Depression

  • No interest in playing with people 
  • Avoiding you or hiding 
  • Howling, aggression or growling 
  • "Sad" facial expression 
  • Not sleeping (or sleeping too much)
  • Lack of appetite

Anxiety

  • Destructive behaviors 
  • Paw licking 
  • Spontaneous elimination (urination or bowel movement) 
  • Whining, trembling or whimpering 
  • Pacing or panting 

Causes of Dog Depression & Anxiety

Dogs are creatures of habit, so any distressing event or major change in their lives can impact their emotions. While you might first think of the more obvious events such as a prolonged absence or owner's death, a change in routine, new home, injury or illness, a new roommate or any traumatic event may cause their melancholy or dog nerves. 

How to Cheer Up Your Dog

Pooches who are experiencing dog anxiety or depression often benefit from closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to people or other dogs), predictable environments and a consistent routine with lots of opportunity for physical activity. Here are a few more tips on how you can help your depressed or anxious dog:

See your vet

Your vet is an essential resource when it comes to all aspects of your dog’s health. Because some symptoms can have physical causes that need urgent medical attention, the first thing to do is to schedule a visit for a physical exam.

Although most dogs will recover from depression on their own (with a little extra love and attention from their human), your vet can provide medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to calm their nerves if things don’t improve.

Keep your dog entertained and physically active

Bored pets can become anxious or get into mischief. Make sure your dog gets exercise before you leave for the day and that they have enough toys around to keep them busy. Many toys are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep dogs amused.

Spend time with friends

Dogs are naturally social animals who love to be around people and other dogs. Consider getting a companion animal or taking lonely pets to the park, classes or doggie daycare for more interaction.

Show them love and patience

Both two-legged creatures and our four-legged friends need lots of love and patience - even more so when we feel depressed or anxious. Giving your dog some extra time and attention could help.

At Zeeland Veterinary Service, we have tips, treatments, and medications to help your pooch get back to their cheerful selves.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of depression or anxiety? Book an appointment with the veterinary team at Zeeland Veterinary Service today.

Caring for Pets in Zeeland

Zeeland Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(616) 772-4930