If you are a concerned owner wondering ” why is my dog sad? ” You should know that there are many causes that can cause sadness and even depression in dogs. In fact, thanks to the most recent ethology studies, today we know that dogs are possessors of complex emotions, such as joy, discrimination or sadness.
It is very important not to ignore this behavior, therefore, in this ScoobyDog article, we will explain why a dog is sad and what to do about it. We will detail the most common signs that we can observe, the causes that cause them, and some management tips that every owner should follow to ensure the well-being of their best friend. Keep reading!
Depression in dogs or sadness?
To begin with, it is essential to point out that a continuous state of depression in the dog, which can span days and even weeks, is not the same as an episode of specific sadness. However, the signs that we can observe are very similar, so it will be essential not to ignore them and act promptly, in this way we will prevent it from going overboard, becoming chronic, or getting worse.
How to know if my dog is sad?
Dogs, then, are susceptible to suffering from a state of sadness and depression, but how can we recognize it? If we know the usual behavior of our best friend it will be easier to identify that something is not going well, however, if we have recently adopted the dog, it will not be so easy.
Next we will mention the most common signs or 20 symptoms of sadness in dogs :
- Lack of appetite
- Increased appetite
- Decreased activity
- Increased sleep
- Absence of play
- Lack of interaction
- Little interest in the environment
Why is my dog sad? – 5 causes
Before suspecting that our dog’s behavior is caused by an emotional or behavioral problem, we should go to the vet to carry out a general review and rule out that our best friend suffers from a viral disease, such as distemper or parvovirus. In these cases, we can see that the dog is sad and does not want to eat, it has crones, trembles, and does not get up.
It can also be due to parasitic disease, whether we are talking about external parasites or internal parasites, thus showing that the dog is sad and has diarrhea, vomiting, or scratches excessively. In other cases, we could speak of a hormonal disorder, such as psychological pregnancy in non-neutered dogs. Any of these problems can cause the symptoms mentioned above.
Once organic problems have been ruled out, it will be essential to review the causes that explain “why my dog is sad” since only in this way can we solve it effectively:
- Adoption of the puppy: when we separate the puppy from its mother and siblings, especially when it is done promptly (before 2 and a half months of age) it is very likely that an episode of sadness or depression will appear that will last until the little one suits your home.
- Changes in the family unit: as in the previous case, a dog that has been separated from its family, whether we are talking about humans or other domestic animals, may experience a process of sadness and even depression until it adapts to that new circumstance. The birth of a baby, a death, or a new animal at home are also some examples.
- Use of punishment by the tutor: studies indicate that the use of punishment is not only less effective than positive reinforcement, but it can also cause the appearance of behavior problems, including fear, aggressiveness, or sadness.
- Loneliness and Lack of Stimulation – Dogs are social animals that shouldn’t spend more than 6-8 hours alone a day. Likewise, they require attention, affection, physical stimulation, and mental stimulation. Lack of enrichment can also cause a state of sadness and depression.
- Negative experiences and trauma: a very stressful, negative, and even traumatizing situation for your dog can cause depression but also act as a trigger for various behavioral problems in dogs. Dog fights, a run over, or a serious injury are some examples of situations that can cause these types of consequences.
What to do if my dog is sad?
Whether we have identified the cause that is causing sadness in our dog or not, it is highly advisable to visit a veterinarian specialized in ethology or a licensed professional canine trainer or educator to issue a diagnosis and provide us with a list of exercises and guidelines. management. However, while we wait for the specialist’s visit, it may be advisable to follow these basic guidelines:
Pay more attention to canine language
It is obvious that any owner knows their dog, however, during a stage of sadness or depression, it is important to pay much more attention to the body language of the dog to be more respectful with him. We will avoid behaviors that may cause you unnecessary stress and, whenever possible, we will provide you with positive and enjoyable experiences that promote well-being and a positive mood. A quality walk or a bowl of homemade dog food is a simple but effective example.
Spend more time with him
As we have explained, a dog should not spend more than 6-8 hours a day alone, however, spending more time by his side also means paying attention to him. It is not necessary to constantly caress him, it can also be positive to have a brushing session or encourage him to follow us around the house when we do our daily tasks.
Promotes calm and relaxation at home
There are some relaxation exercises for dogs that, in addition to improving the bond with our best friend, are very effective for those dogs that have stress and anxiety problems. Of course, it is important to point out that we must be very constant and do them on a daily basis so that they are really effective and have a real impact on the dog.
Improves the quality of walks and daily exercise
Physical activity is essential for dogs, therefore, we must ensure that the dog performs a minimum of between 2 and 4 daily walks, combined with physical exercise whenever possible. Playing fetch, jogging for 15 minutes, or simply giving him some time off-leash in a safe and spacious space are activities that will help our best friend develop his muscles and feel more satisfied in his day.