Causes of Depression in Dogs

One of the joys of having a dog is the constant state of happiness in which they always seem to be, but depression in dogs represses that, resulting in apparent sadness and lack of interest in life. Recognizing the cause of this depression can help you properly treat it.

Medical Causes

Before treating an emotional problem, make sure there are no underlying medical problems. Many serious illnesses cause symptoms mimicking depression such as lethargy, weight loss, increased sleep and decreased interest in food, social interactions and other activities that he previously enjoyed.

If you notice these symptoms, first consult a veterinarian. Your vet will probably give a physical exam, blood tests and maybe even X-rays.

If this is determined to be the cause, addressing the medical issue should fix the depression.

Environmental Causes

If these tests come back negative, it's time to look at environmental causes. Dogs have emotions and are capable of feeling stress and reacting to it. If there has been a change in your dog's environment, this may be causing him to feel depressed.

Have you recently gotten a new job that keeps you from home more? Do you travel more? Do you have a new boyfriend/girlfriend taking up your time? Has your pet recently lost a family member? Have you recently moved? Is construction keeping your dog from his routine? Have you recently had a baby?

Examine all the possible causes. Sometimes, weather can affect your dog's mood as well. If the weather has recently changed, that might be the culprit.

Dogs are social animals. If anything has happened that has reduced the amount of attention your dog receives from you, this could cause depression. Have you suffered an injury or illness that has kept you from daily walks or games?

If this is the cause, don't worry. Dogs tend to live in the moment and will probably cheer up once they get used to the new routine. If your dog is getting less attention, fix this. Add extra cuddle time and other activities for your dog. No matter how busy you are, it's important to make time.

Dogs respond well to an established routine, so try to stabilize your new routine as much as possible. Having meals, walks and play time at a similar time each day will help your dog adjust.

Clinical Depression

Though rare, dogs can also suffer from clinical depressions caused by a chemical imbalance. In this case, no amount of cuddle time will remedy the situation.

Consult a veterinarian. As humans need medication to heal clinical depression, so might your dog. A veterinarian will be able to explain your options based on your dog's symptoms, age and medical condition.

Causes of depression in dogs can vary, but if you suspect your dog is feeling down, address the issue. If left untreated, it could lead to more serious medical problems caused by prolonged stress as well as lack of energy and appetite.