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Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes & Symptoms

Anxiety & Depression in Dogs: Causes & Symptoms

Similar to humans, our dogs can also feel depressed or anxious. While symptoms could indicate these or other issues, you may be able to help them feel better by following this advice from our Waxhaw vets. 

How does a depressed or anxious dog behave? 

If all is not well with your dog, his behavior may offer some clues and insight. It might even cause you to ask, "Is my dog depressed?"

If your dog shows three or more of the signs listed here, it's time to book a visit to the vet to identify whether the symptoms are caused by anxiety, depression or something else. 


Symptoms of depression include:

  • Changed sleeping habits (not sleeping, or sleeping too much) 
  • Hiding or avoiding you 
  • "Sad" facial expression 
  • No interest in playing with toys or people 
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Aggression, howling or growling 


  • Trembling, whimpering or whining 
  • Pacing or panting 
  • Destructive behaviors 
  • Spontaneous elimination (bowel movement or urination) 
  • Paw licking 

Causes of Depression & Anxiety in dogs 

Dogs are creatures of habit. Therefore, any distressing event or major life change might significantly impact their emotions. 

You might first associate obvious causes such as an owner's prolonged absence or death with depression in dogs, but a change in routine, illness or injury, move to a new home, any traumatic event or even a new baby or roomate in their household can lead to malaise. 

Some Ways to Cheer Up Your Dog

Depressed or anxious dogs often benefit from predictable environments, closely controlled social interaction (if the cause is related to other dogs or people) and a consistent routine with lots of physical activity. Here are some more tips on how to help your depressed or anxious dog:

Visit your vet

Your vet is an essential resource when it comes to all aspects of your dog’s health. Because some symptoms can have physical causes that need urgent medical attention, the first thing to do is to schedule a visit so a full physical exam can be done and any symptoms assessed and diagnosed..

Although most dogs will recover from depression on their own (with a little extra love and attention from their human), your vet can provide medication such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety aids to calm their nerves if things don’t improve.

Keep your dog entertained and physically active

Bored pets can become anxious or get into mischief. Make sure your dog gets exercise before you leave for the day and that they have enough toys around to keep them busy. Many toys are interactive or can be stuffed with treats to keep dogs amused.

Spend time with friends

Dogs are natural social animals who love to be around people and other dogs. Consider getting a companion animal or taking lonely pets to the park, classes or doggie daycare for more interaction.

Show them love and patience

Both two-legged creatures and our four-legged friends need lots of love and patience - even more so when we feel depressed or anxious. Giving your dog some extra time and attention could help your depressed dog feel happy-go-lucky again or calm your anxious dog's nerves.

At Providence South Animal Hospital, we have tips, treatments, and medications to help your pooch get back to their cheerful selves.

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.

Are you concerned that your dog may be feeling anxious or depressed? Our team at Providence South Animal Hospital is experienced in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions. Contact us today. 

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Providence South Animal Hospital provides comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Waxhaw.

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