Our dogs don’t have this option, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t feel sad or even depressed. While there’s not as much research out there as there is for humans (for obvious reasons), all kinds of anecdotal evidence exists pointing to dog depression.
Some stories seem more obvious, such as a dog suddenly shutting down and sleeping all day in the back of a closet after another dog in the pack dies. Others aren’t quite as straightforward, where dog owners might notice “moping” or “mood changes” after something like a move.
So, how do you know if your pup is experiencing canine depression? Here are several common signs — many of which are similar to signs of depression in people.
#1: Your dog is in heat
If you have an unspayed female, your dog will go into a period of fertility known colloquially as “heat” twice a year. According to the National Canine Research Association of America (NCRAOA), female dogs in heat “will often exhibit erratic behavior, such as shaking, frequent urination, and general anxiety.” Additional symptoms of heat include a swollen vulva, vaginal bleeding, and increased friendliness toward male dogs. There’s an easy fix if her estrus cycle is responsible for your dog’s shaking and unusual behavior: Have her spayed. While the procedure is quite common, your pup has a slightly elevated risk of bleeding during surgery because estrus increases blood flow.
Lethargy in Puppies & Young Dogs
Causes of lethargy in young dogs more often than not is related to parasites. Hookworms, ticks and fleas (especially if your animal is highly infested), heartworms (especially on dogs who aren’t on preventives), as well as infectious diseases such as the Parvovirus can cause lethargy.
Additionally, younger dogs can suffer from lethargy as a result of congenital heart diseases, pneumonia, anemia, fevers, and malnutrition.
If your dog is older, some things to consider that might be causing your dog to be lethargic include osteoarthritis, as well as general pain, heart disease, diabetes, excessive weight, hypothyroidism (yes, dogs can get that too), as well as tick-born diseases. Serious infections such as Parvo, heartworm disease, distemper, kennel cough, the bacterial infection leptospirosis, can all be culprits of lethargy in older dogs.
Keep in mind that as your dog ages, some lethargy will be normal. Especially if your dog has osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis makes activity painful, which means your dog will try to avoid moving around too much as their pain becomes more pronounced.
Other health conditions that are painful and trigger lethargy are:
If your dog experiences persistent vomiting, or you notice blood in their stool along with lethargic behavior, you should see your vet immediately.
Something else to note is that your dog’s environment can be a cause of lethargy. When a dog is frightened because they are in a new home, or even when they are afraid due to thunder, fireworks, or gun fire, you may notice changes in their mood or behavior. Major changes in your household such as the death of a loved one, or even the death of another pet, can leave your dog feeling down and blue much like a human might feel.
When some dogs are extremely sad, they lose interest in food and often lose weight. Alternatively, there are dogs that seem to use food as a kind of solace when they are depressed and want to eat more, leading to weight gain.
Why is my dog acting sad and shaking?
Shivering could be a sign that your dog is in pain or suffering from an illness. Shivering and muscle tremors can be symptoms of serious conditions such as distemper, hypoglycemia, Addison’s disease and inflammatory brain disease, as well as more common ailments like an upset stomach.
Why is my dog acting weird all of a sudden and shaking?
Why my dog is sad all of a sudden?
How can you tell if a dog is not feeling well?
- Dog danger signals. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that, just like you, your dog can fall ill. …
- Diarrhoea. …
- Repeated vomiting, gagging, sneezing or coughing. …
- Refusal to eat for over 24 hours. …
- Excessive thirst or urination. …
- Red or swollen gums. …
- Difficulty urinating. …
- Runny eyes or nose.