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Best Methods to Cheer Up a Sad, Depressed Dog

Updated on October 10, 2016
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr Mark is a veterinarian in Brazil. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Know the signs of a depressed dog, and what you can do to cheer him up.
Know the signs of a depressed dog, and what you can do to cheer him up. | Source
A depressed dog needs cheering up.
A depressed dog needs cheering up. | Source

Dogs can become depressed, and sometimes they do need to be cheered up.

Why bother? As we have learned from human medicine, depression can have a lot of side effects. A depressed dog is more likely to contract an illness, and if your dog is depressed sometimes he will not be able to get better.

Depression may be an everyday occurrence; some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and will become stressed and depressed every time they realize they are about to be locked away alone. Depression might happen only once in a while, like when something special upsets your dog.(A new baby in the house?)

Depression may be a very unusual happening (hopefully once in a lifetime) like the death of a special playmate, or even a human family member.

You can deal with all of them.

How Do I Know My Dog Is Depressed?

If your dog is depressed you will most likely see the following signs:

· Sleeping excessively.

· No interest in going for walks.

· No interest in playing with a ball or old toys.

· Eating much less or more than normal.

Depression is sometimes obvious, all we have to do is look.
Depression is sometimes obvious, all we have to do is look. | Source

Ways To Cheer Up Your Dog

Did you read those symptoms of depression? They are also the symptoms for many disease problems.

If your dog is showing clinical signs of depression, you should have him examined by your local vet. He may want to do bloodwork to make sure there are no internal organ problems. Since some of the symptoms of depression are so similar to arthritis, he may want to do x-rays. If no abnormalities are found, these are a few things you can try:

· If you can take your dog for a walk in the morning, when the sun is shining, it should help him throughout the day. If this is not something you do set your alarm a half hour earlier in the morning. Your dog´s well being is worth those few minutes of sleep.

· Spend extra time with him. As I mentioned above, this should really be walking, even if it is only in the normal times and areas.

· Take your dog away to a new place. I do not mean that you should take him for a ride in the car. This needs to be a walk, a long walk if you both can handle it (this is not always easy with a depressed dog), so that he gets plenty of exercise and comes home and sleeps.

· Take some special treats with you when you go for a walk. When your dog is playing ball or acting normal praise him lavishly, and give him some of those treats. It is possible that your dog will associate acting normal with rewards. (Using this same logic, you do not want to go up and give him treats when he is acting depressed.)

· Bring him home a new toy. As well as distracting him, a new toy might make your dog happy. This should be the kind of toy that you both will interact with.

· Play music for your dog. This is a controversial topic and some behaviorists think it has no effect whatsoever. Maybe not, but it will not hurt.

· Dogs are social animals. If you really are not able to take much time away from your regular schedule, sometimes a new puppy helps. This is not always a solution, however, and if you do get a second dog and your older dog becomes more depressed you should be sure you can take him back to the breeder if you have to rehome him.

Depression in dogs needs to be looked into.
Depression in dogs needs to be looked into. | Source
Listening to a good book?
Listening to a good book? | Source

The last alternative

If his examination and bloodwork is acceptable, your vet may recommend medical therapy. Prozac and Zoloft can be prescribed for your dog.

I suggest you try behavioral changes first and then try drugs later. Even if you do have to resort to the medications, you need to realize that these drugs take a long time to start working.

Behavioral therapies might be more effective. If you start the drugs right away, you will never know if the dog responded to them or to the improvements you made to his lifestyle. They have several serious side effects, so for the sake of your dog, I would prefer families handle this problem naturally if at all possible.

Do you know the best way to cheer up your dog?

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This is the kind of face every dog owner likes to see.
This is the kind of face every dog owner likes to see. | Source


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    • profile image

      Roslyn bonner 2 weeks ago

      Hi my dog is absolutely petrified of house flies I don't know what I can do to help him!!! He hides in the wardrobe for hours!! He now seems to be nervous at the slightest noise!! How can I help him?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      troy, did the vet suggest bloodwork to find out any health problems you are not able to see? Your basset is not mad at you, but if it is just behavior you may need to resort to a prescription. think about a second opinion too

    • profile image

      Troy 3 weeks ago

      I think my basset hound mad at me he hasn't ate in just about 4 days days but he's been drinking. We took him to the vet and everything is fine. He's taking walks and will go up to people all excited then the minute they pass he goes back to the way he was. We're really worried about him he's been a big part of our family for six years and we don't want to lose him. We're out of idea's.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 6 weeks ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Dianne, it is very hard to say for sure since dogs are such individuals. I lost my Schnauzer recently and my Pit is lost without her, so I am going to get her a new puppy when I find one. She does not like many adult dogs but does seem okay with most puppies so I am going to try. Hope your senior does okay with a new pup.

    • profile image

      Dianne Davis 6 weeks ago

      I am the mother of 3 dogs. Well 2 now. We just lost one to cancer. My other 2 are very lost without the other. The problem is that 1 of my remaining dogs was the brother . They are 12 yrs old. Would bringing in a new pup upset him more or give him some renewed happiness..?

    • profile image

      Ave 7 weeks ago

      My puppy is 3 months old he has stopped eating and is always sleeping what can I do to help him

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Kathy, I am living in the jungle at the moment so I am taking a while to get back. Why do you think an 8 week old puppy is depressed?Dogs that age sleep almost all of the time. The only thing that concerned me is taking a long time to pee, but if you give him a treat as soon as he finishes he will be more likely to go quickly so that he can get his treat.

    • profile image

      Alicia 2 months ago

      Tomorrow I am ganna start a fresh day with my doggy

    • profile image

      Kathy Isicson 2 months ago

      Hi. I have a dog that literally just turned eight weeks old. I just got him yesterday. We are very connected and he follows me everywhere, but when I was reading the symptoms of dog depression, he had some of the listed things. For example: eating more than usual, sleeping a lot, and we have to sit outside with my dog for an hour just to get him to pee. I really love my dog but I won't him to be happy. Get back to me as soon as possible.

      Thanks Dr. Mark

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 9 months ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Noel, why do you think going to hide in a closet is a desire to find a place to die? It sounds to me like he is just trying to find a place to escape from the dominant dog.

      Many of the symptoms you describe could be due to the medical problems. Taking him for a walk in the sunshine in the morning (alone, not with the other dog) is the best way to treat him, but until you take care of his mange, heartworm disease, and epilepsy, I cannot tell you that it will help much. How old is he? He definitely needs a comprehensive exam at your vet and may need blood work to determine if he is having problems with his liver and kidneys. Do your best to get him checked out as soon as possible.

    • profile image

      Noel 9 months ago

      Hello this is a cry for help my dog has been in bad condition lately i no he is depressed and i need help.this all started a 6 months ago when his owner had moved the house (the owner was my cousin that lived with us for 5 years and she moved out and couldn't take her dog) so after she moved out the dog was ok not good not bad ok but now its starting to affect him he has stoped eating and moving he also has started going to a closet in the corner of are house with means he is trying to find a place to die he is also messed with a lot from are other dog who is territorial and snaps at him another thing that is happening are seizures he has not been geting them for a while but his last one was his worst he started seizuring stoped and went back to seizuring. He also has heart worms scabs and many other things this is a cry for help any tips on helping him eat and Start to be more active

    • profile image

      MillieMurdoch 16 months ago

      My dog is so depressed my mum is giving her away

    • profile image

      Chantel 2 years ago

      We adopted my little brothers dog to move away to my dad's house with my older brother as there was no fence around my mother's yard and he kept trying to follow her to work and my little brother stopped taking care of him and my mother was always at work. He still seemed very happy in that situation even though he was not going on regular walks and such. Now that he has swapped homes for over a year he seems depressed. Reported as having stayed in his kennel for a full week without coming out, food had to be put in there to tempt him to eat it otherwise he wouldn't eat. Stopped playing fetch, started moping, etc.

      I moved in with my dad and older brother a couple of months ago, the times I am home I walk him/take him to the beach almost every day. He seems happy when he goes in the car now because he knows he is going to the beach. Then when we get home he gets sad and lays in the car and refuses to come out. Then during the day he lays in his kennel all day and won't come out. He sometimes comes out to play or say hello but it is only for 30-60seconds then straight back in the kennel curled up in a ball with his eyes wide open and doesn't respond. I have been thinking for a while that he might miss my mother, but she still does not have a fence around her yard properly and does not want the dog to come back until there is a proper fence as it is not safe for him to wander around.

      Could this be doggy depression? Perhaps I have just read into it too much.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi WOLFpack, the first thing I would do with your dog is take her in for a medical exam at your vets. Growling at you is definitely not normal, so figure out if there is a medical reason first. If all is okay, I would try walking her early in the morning and trying to cheer her up naturally with sunshine and exercise. (It has to be early in the morning for a dog like that, not afternoons when you get home.) If she does not respond talk to your vet about chemical antidepressants, but most dogs will respond to exercise, as long as it is in the morning and enough to really tire her out. Good luck with her.

    • profile image

      WOLFpack 2 years ago

      Hi my dog is really grumpy and I think depressed. She is obsessed with food and really overweight. She always growls at the other dogs and when I pet her. She never licks anyone and always has the kind of sad look on her face. She's also really lazy and never wants to go on walks. What do I do?!?

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 2 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      That walk really brings the smiles in them. There is nothing better to watch, at least in my opinion!

    • Sami Hanson profile image

      Sami 2 years ago from Kansas

      My dog always gets cheered up going for walks. He's a black lab mixed with Newfoundland so he has the droopy jowls. He's adorable, but the way his mouth sags he always looks so sad! Haha.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 3 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Hi tachalina the first thing to do is take her to a vet and make sure her physical exam and bloodwork are all normal. Rule out a medical reason for her depression. If that is all okay, try taking her for a walk in the morning. Use chicken liver or other tasty treats to get her out of the house, early, when the day is just starting. (Getting up that early may not be easy for you, but for a short while it may be really important for her.)

      Good luck with her. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

    • profile image

      tachalina 3 years ago

      My dog right now has been acting werid she just sits in one place and stares at tge wall with her ears pulled back and every time I call her she jusr sits there and shakes and stares at me i don't know what to do what should i do??

    • hisandhers profile image

      hisandhers 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the tips! I find a change of scenery during a walk can sometimes even perk up a grumpy dog owner. :)

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      I've got a couple of fairly boring seeds. I'm just trying to figure out how to sprout fairly interesting hubs out of them. I've also got a couple of part time jobs that are taking up some of my time, and redirecting my focus, now.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I think you are right about the poll. Everyone is answering it correctly (which is to say, the way I want).

      Thanks for leaving and commenting. Do you have any new hubs in the pipeline? I always look forward to reading your articles (even if I am not as good about leaving comments).

    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 4 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      It's interesting that much of the treatment for canine depression is actually the good husbandry practices that most owners naturally follow.

      I like your maybe/maybe not approach to music and your observation that dogs are pack animals. Both positions serve to validate my own. Also, both are controversial. I can think of one hubber who might take issue.

      Considering the sophisticated nature of your readership, I think your poll answers should be more challenging. May I suggest adding a 4th option: The Sheldon Cooper "There, There" Sheldon Is Here" technique.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      Michelle, are there any holistic vets in your area? I used to prescribe phenobarbital for epilepsy, but it does cause a lot of depression. There is a holistic therapy using ice (during the seizure) but you really need to find a vet to give her more guidance. Unfortunately that option does not always exist.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      wetnosedogs, I imagine they were happy as soon as they found you though. (Or you found them?)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for linking, Mark! My schnauzer is showing the signs...but in her case it could be a bit different because she's had a seizure and needs to sleep a bit after the medicine. But I can tell she's not too happy because of the discomfort, and here in Singapore, no vet is trained to do neurological

      medicine. :( Thanks for this, and I will link back to the toy hub for reference too!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama


      I should have added more to the above comment. Sorry. Bella and Roscoe(brother and sister) were at one time depressed before I brought them home. They were adopted together at the humane society and brought back two months later. The lady at the humane society said when they came back, they got depressed. She spent as much time as she could with them. I hate thinking that happened to them, but am happy that one special lady at the humane society took such great care of them.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil

      I´m not surprised this is not a problem for you and your dogs!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      I haven't seen my dogs depressed. I am happy about that.

      When my daughter's cat was alive and my daughter would go on a weekend trip, I was home with the cat. But that cat would sit by the window and cry. Sad thing to see.

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