Dog Anxiety & Depression: Causes, Symptoms & How To Calm Your Dog's Nerves

Just like you or I, our pets can go through phases where they feel a little down and sometimes there is no obvious cause. Our Columbia vets share some of the signs that your dog has depression or anxiety and ways that you can help ease their nerves.

Is my Dog Depressed or Anxious?

If your dog is acting differently or displaying behaviors that aren't like their normal self then it can lead you to wonder if they are anxious of depressed.

Here are some of the typical signs of anxiety or depression in dogs. If you notice three or more of the following symptoms you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination right away. 

Symptoms of Depression in Dogs

    • Disinterest in playing with people or toys
    • 'Sad' expression
    • Lack of energy
    • Avoiding you or hiding
    • Growling, howling, or aggression
    • Sleeping too much
    • Decreased appetite
    • Not sleeping

Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

    • Destructive chewing or destroying furniture
    • Obsessive paw licking
    • Spontaneous bowel movement or urination
    • Panting for no reason
    • Pacing aimlessly
    • Whimpering, trembling, or whining

What is the cause of depression in dogs?

Dogs love knowing what to expect each day and having a routine. This means that when something in their life changes, it can throw everything off balance leading to changes in their behavior.

While obviously, emotional events such as their owner’s death or prolonged absence can bring on symptoms of anxiety or depression in dogs, other less extreme events such as a move to a new home, injury or illness, change in routine, or even a new pet or person in the home could be the cause of your pup's case of the blues.

How can you help your dog feel better?

Anxious or depressed dogs benefit from predictable routines and environments, closely monitored social interaction, and lots of physical activity. Here are some of the ways that you can help brighten your dog's mood and get them back to their old self:

Speak With Your Vet

Some symptoms linked to depression and anxiety may be caused by serious medical conditions, some of which can be life-threatening and require emergency veterinary care. If you begin to notice symptoms indicating that your dog is sad or not quite feeling like themself then you should reach out to your vet to schedule an examination.

Although dogs will often recover from depression with just a little extra love and attention from their pet parent, your veterinarian can provide medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to help calm their nerves if things don’t show signs of improvement.

Give Your Dog Some Good Old Fashioned Love

If your dog becomes bored they are not only more likely to display undesirable behaviors but can also become anxious or depressed. Make sure your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house for the day, and supply your pup with enough toys to keep them busy and help curb dog anxiety. Look for toys that are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep your dog's body and mind active while you're out of the house.

Let Your Pup Socialize

Playing with people and other pets can be a great joy for your dog. If your dog seems lonely and sad try taking your pooch to the dog park, group classes, or doggie daycare for additional social interaction. You may even want to consider getting a companion animal for your dog.

Be Patient With Them

Dogs need lots of love and patience to feel safe and contented - even more so if they are feeling depressed or anxious. By giving your pup a little extra time and attention you may be able to alleviate these issues.

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.

If you think that your dog may be experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety, please contact our vets in Columbia to schedule an examination.