Why Do Dogs Show Sadness

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The fact that dogs show emotions is one of the most common reasons people decide to become pet parents. Their range of emotions includes playful, caring, loving, friendly, cheerful, energetic, fun, fearful, anxious, depression, shame, jealousy, joy, and more. The first sign of your dog expressing sadness is the expression in his eyes and on his face. If your dog has ever looked at you with his soulful eyes looking sad and his facial muscles scrunched up causing his skin to wrinkle and look so cute, chances are he is feeling sad at that moment. The following information will help reveal the mystery behind sadness in dogs.

The Root of the Behavior

Feeling sad is natural for dogs and is often a reflection of the dog owner. Dogs are empathetic to their owners and often feel similar emotions they sense from their master. If you notice your dog feeling sad, take note of your own emotional state to see if it is a reflection. An obvious sign is your dog trying to comfort you, even though he is expressing sadness. Sometimes the sadness your dog is feeling relates to him specifically. There are a variety of things that make dogs feel sad. Common causes include the loss of a loved one, a family member moving away, the loss of another pet, boredom, being isolated from the family, feeling lonely, feeling unwanted, and lack of attention. Dogs need attention for their overall well-being, some breeds more than others. Determining the cause of your dog’s sadness is essential to helping him overcome it and solve the problem. Some dogs are more sensitive than others. This means your dog might feel sad over simple things such as waiting while his favorite toys are getting cleaned and missing his favorite treats. 

Other dogs might feel sad due to serious issues such as the loss of a family member or another pet and separation from his owner. Sadness also appears when dogs are experiencing a long-term illness, injury, pain, or another health problem. In the case of illness related sadness, this might not be avoidable. Humans often feel sad when they do not feel well, especially if it is a long-term illness. Unfortunately, dogs also experience serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more. Sadness that is initiated by easy to solve situations such as missing a favorite toy or treat is not considered something to worry about. If you are unable to determine the cause of your dog’s sadness, it is best to visit the veterinarian for further assistance and diagnosis. 

Encouraging the Behavior

Expressing sadness is natural for dogs but should not be encouraged. Long-term sadness that interferes with eating, sleeping, playing, and exercise needs to be taken seriously. If you are unable to cheer up your dog by providing a more exciting lifestyle of exercise, healthy diet, delicious treats, toys, playtime, and plenty of attention, a serious underlying issue can be the cause that needs immediate medical attention. As a pet parent, you never want to encourage your dog to be sad, even if life events call for that type of behavior. 

If you see your dog showing signs of sadness, you need to do everything you can to cheer your dog up. An easy solution is to provide a healthy environment. Since dogs can sense emotional tension, your dog might be upset because there is a lot of arguing going on in the house or other negative emotions or tension in the environment. Focusing on solving these issues is recommended for your own well-being as well as your dog’s. Discussing your dog’s long-term sadness with a veterinarian is helpful. It also helps to describe the trigger that caused your dog to show sadness. Providing as much information to the veterinarian will help pinpoint the cause and find a solution to the behavior. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Humans often experience sadness and it is a natural part of life. However, it only becomes unhealthy when it is experienced for an extended period of time. The same goes for dogs. It is okay if your dog is sad for a couple of weeks after the loss of a loved one. Improvement in attitude should be visible as time goes forward. If your dog is expressing sadness for more than one month, it’s time to get professional help from a veterinarian. If your dog is feeling sad for a simple or basic reason related to the loss of his favorite toy or treats, replacements often solve the situation quickly. 


Your dog might show sadness because he senses the emotion from you. If this is the case, it's time for both of you to cheer up. Find ways to make yourself feel better and your dog will follow with positive emotions. This is a huge benefit of being a dog owner because it actually forces you to take a good look at your own emotional well-being. Ultimately, whatever the cause, you want to make sure your dog is feeling happy.