Sad Dog? How To Spot The Signs, and Cheer Them Up

Medically reviewed by Nicole Wanner, DVM

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Do you ever get the feeling that your dog is sad? Are you noticing physical signals such as your dog putting their ears back? Is it possible for dogs to be unhappy or depressed? The short answer is yes, your dog could be experiencing depression.

Some dogs, like humans, will experience depressive episodes. While dogs do not have the same emotions as humans in science, this does not mean they do not have similar feelings. While depression in dogs isn't as common as it is in humans, it is still important to treat when it is observed.

When a dog is sad, he or she may look withdrawn. They can lose interest in activities they normally enjoy, such as cuddling, playing a favorite game, or taking a walk. As a dog lover, you should talk to your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist about this.


Fighting unseen adversaries like mental illness can be incredibly difficult, as we all know from our own experiences. However, if you're reading this, you've already taken the first step toward ensuring your dog's health. A variety of factors can cause depression in dogs.


Dogs may become depressed as a result of health issues. If your dog isn't feeling good, you could find him being depressed.

Consider this: when you have a stomach ache, do you feel like doing anything? Or when you're in a lot of pain? In these circumstances, once you've figured out what's making him sick, the sparkle in his eyes will return.

Grief and Mourning

Grief may play a role as well. Dogs may be affected by the death of an individual, a location, or even an object. It might be as easy as someone not showing up anymore. Perhaps your child's tutoring schedule has changed or, he or she has moved away to college.

Alternatively, the dog's playmate could have moved or passed away, causing grief and mourning.

Environmental Changes

In an otherwise healthy dog, changes in his environment may trigger negative reactions. For certain dogs, moving to a new home or rearranging furniture may be a difficult transition.

It can seem insignificant to you, but a shift in routine and environment can have a significant impact on your dog.


Your dog could become depressed as a result of his fear. Fear manifests itself in a variety of ways in dogs; it's depression and aggression at other times.

You may notice your dog acting more distant than usual if he is afraid of anything within his environment.

Our Own Emotions

Our own emotions also play a significant role. Even if we try not to express our feelings, dogs will feel them.

Your dog will tell if you are nervous, sad, or anxious. And, emotions will be felt not only by you but also by your dog.

Unknown Circumstances

Unfortunately, there are times that we do not understand why our dogs are depressed. Not understanding what's wrong can be perplexing for both us, as the dog's pet parent and our veterinarian or behaviorist, attempting to shift the dog's emotions.


If your veterinarian doesn't think illness is the cause after medical problems have been ruled out, he or she will likely recommend improvements at home to make your dog happier again. To assist with these improvements, your veterinarian might refer you to a canine behaviorist.

One of the most important changes to make is to increase your dog's exercise if you notice he's feeling sad. Take a long walk every day, play fetch, or find another activity that your dog enjoys. The increased movement has a positive effect on the mind. Enrolling your dog in a doggy daycare program or taking her to the dog park might be a good idea if she lacks social interaction. Mental and physical stimulation are critical, even in dogs who are not suffering from any ailment.

It's natural to give your dog extra affection at these times, but you should avoid focusing your entire attention span on him. Too much coddling can encourage depressive behavior, which is something we don't want. It's also critical to adhere to a schedule or create one if one does not already exist. Life is busy, and things will not always be the same, but potty, food, and exercise times should be the same every day as much as possible. A general routine will provide your dog with the much-needed sense of security he needs to get through this sad state of mind.

If none of the above suggestions work, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help your dog regain his or her normalcy. Prozac is the most commonly used drug for depressed dogs (fluoxetine). Medications should only be used as a last resort because they can lead to dependence and other side effects.


CBD oil interacts with the endocannabinoid in both humans and dogs. The endocannabinoid system is thought to influence many of your dog’s bodily functions, including those which regulate and balance emotions.

Pharmaceuticals are almost always used in a reactive manner and often don’t address the root cause of the problem.

Multiple small studies have demonstrated that CBD may minimize negative emotions brought on by previous trauma. This is especially important for people and dogs suffering from anxiety, PTSD, or panic attacks.

Side effects associated with CBD oil for dogs have so far shown to be relatively minor, and reversible by simply ceasing to use the product. It is also considered by a growing number of veterinarians to be safe.


Attempting to assist a depressed dog is critical to the dog's quality of life, health, and happiness. Although it's true that depression in dogs usually goes away on its own after a while, it's always important to be proactive when dealing with depressed dogs. The symptoms of depression may be mistaken for those of sickness. Remember that talking to your veterinarian is the best place to start.

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