Does your dog have a lack of appetite or a sad expression on their face? They may be experiencing anxiety or depression. In this blog, our Jacksonville vets explain the signs of anxiety and depression in dogs and how you can help your pooch feel better.

Anxiety & Depression in Dogs

Has your dog been acting depressed or anxious? Our Jacksonville veterinarians often see dogs that are experiencing depression and anxiety for a wide range of reasons.

If your dog is anxious or depressed it's no laughing matter. Often, the symptoms of these problems can cause destructive behaviors that lots of dog owners can't cope with. If you believe your pup is suffering from anxiety or depression you need to schedule an appointment with your vet so the underlying cause can be determined. Your veterinarian can diagnose the cause and provide you with solutions or treatments that can help your pooch feel more happy and content.

But what are the signs of anxiety and depression in dogs?

Common Signs of Dog Depression

If your dog has depression they may exhibit one or more of these symptoms: 

  • "Sad" expression
  • Not sleeping
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping too much
  • No interest in playing with people or toys
  • Lack of appetite
  • Growling, howling, or aggression
  • Avoiding you or hiding

The Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs

Anxiety can cause behaviors that are very different than the ones caused by depression. If your pup's nerves appear to be on edge you should watch for these signs of anxiety:

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

While depression and anxiety in dogs can be difficult for both the pet and their owners, there are other health concerns that could also be the cause of your dog's symptoms. If your dog is exhibiting any of the behaviors or symptoms above, contact your vet to book an examination for your pooch.

The Causes of Anxiety & Depression in Dogs

Dogs are animals of habit and enjoy having steady routines in their lives. Any major change in their life or a distressing event can significantly affect their emotions.

Although more obvious 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 roommate could be the cause of your pup's gloomy demeanor.

How To Help Your Pup Feel Better

Dogs suffering from anxiety or depression typically benefit from environments that are predictable, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people), and a consistent routine that contains lots of physical activity.

Below are some tips that you can implement to help lower your dog's anxiety or depression:

Visit Your Veterinarian

  • Some symptoms of depression and anxiety can actually have physical causes that need urgent attention. The first thing you should do if your dog seems anxious or depressed is to schedule a visit with your vet. While some dogs may 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.

Keep Your Dog's Mind & Body Active

  • When our canine companions become bored they can get depressed or anxious. Ensure your pup has had exercise before you leave them alone for the day, and give them lots of toys to keep them occupied to help lessen their anxiety. We recommend toys that are interactive or are stuffed with treats to keep your dog's body and mind active when you are gone.

Schedule Time For Play & Socialization

  • Our dogs are social creatures that love to be around people and other animals. If your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression you may want to consider getting a companion animal for your pup or take your lonely pooch to the dog park, group classes, or doggie daycare for additional social interaction.

Show Your Dogs Lots of Patience & Love

  • Our furry friends require lots of patience and love to feel happy, content, and safe - especially if they are prone to becoming anxious or depressed. By providing your dog with a little bit of extra time and attention you could be relieving these problems and restoring your pup's happiness and excitement.

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.

Contact our Jacksonville vets today if your dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety, depression or any other concerning behaviors that are worrying you.