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What is Acting Sad?

The signs of sadness and depression in animals are similar to those you may see in humans. Some of the signs indicating that your dog is sad include sleeping more than usual, not wanting to play or exercise, hiding from you, laying around a lot, not eating as much, staying close to your side but not wanting to be petted, pacing, aggression, and whining. Some of the most common reasons for sadness in dogs include:

  • Illness
  • Loss of someone (member of the family or pet)
  • Addition in the family
  • Moving to a new home
  • Clinical depression

Sadness is usually not serious unless your dog is sad because of an illness or injury. In some cases, sadness may be one of the only symptoms of an underlying condition, so you should always try to figure out why your dog is acting sad. If you cannot figure out what the problem is and if it lasts longer than a few days, you should see a veterinary professional for advice.

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Why Acting Sad Occurs in Dogs

Some dogs are just not as excitable as others. However, if your dog is normally active and happy and he suddenly becomes sullen and sleepy, he may be sad or depressed for some reason. There are many reasons your dog may seem sad or depressed such as:

Illness

If your dog is not feeling well, he may seem sad or depressed. Just like humans, dogs tend to mope around when they are sick or injured. He may just lay on the floor and stare off into space or sleep more than he usually does. There may be other symptoms you may not have noticed that make more sense now if your dog is acting more sad than usual. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • High body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 

Loss of Someone 

If someone in the household is no longer there for any reason such as with a child who goes off to college or moves out. Also, your dog can be upset if you are not home as much as you used to be, as in the case of going to work after being home for a long time. Some of the other reasons your dog may feel loss include:

  • Death of a pet or family member
  • Divorce or breakup
  • Puppies given away or sold

Addition to the Family

Change in the family is one of the biggest causes of sadness in your dog. If you get married or have a baby, or if you have a guest that is staying with you, this can cause your dog to think he is being replaced and he may become jealous and sad. This can also happen if you get another pet, whether it is another dog, cat, or even a hamster; if attention is being taken away from your dog he may become sad.

Moving to A New Home

Anytime you change your dog’s home life, he can get unsettled and anxious. However, some dogs can become very sad, especially if they have been in the home for a long time. Your dog may be confused and wonder why he has been taken away from his home. He may hide somewhere and not want to socialize. Most dogs will get used to the new place eventually with no problem but some dogs may need a little extra help. 

Clinical Depression

Believe it or not, pets can have clinical depression just like humans. The cause of clinical depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and can usually be treated with medication. Some of the medications that your veterinarian may choose for your dog are:

  • Buspirone (Buspar)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Phenobarbital

Your dog may have been abused before you got him and you may not know about it. Being abused in the past can cause depression years later, similar to what happens with humans. In humans, this is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it can be extremely hard for your dog to process.

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What to do if your Dog is Acting Sad

If your dog is not acting normal, has been sleeping more than usual, or has lost his appetite, you should probably call your veterinarian and see if you should bring him in for a visit. The veterinarian may give you some ideas of other things to try first if the symptoms are not severe.

However, if you believe that your dog may be ill or injured, you should make an appointment or go to an emergency veterinary hospital.

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Prevention of Acting Sad

There is no way to prevent sadness in your dog since it usually happens for reasons that are out of your control. If the reason your dog is sad is something you can control, you can help with some of these suggestions:

  • Spend some extra time with your dog; play with him or just groom or pet him if he does not want to play
  • Try to entice him to exercise by taking him for walks, maybe a trip to the dog park will help
  • If your dog is missing a loved one or another pet, consider getting a new one.
  • However, if you and your family are not up to it yet, just try spending more time with him
  • If he is not eating much, try a new food or special treats
  • Try some music. Some dogs enjoy listening to music as much as humans do and some experts claim it can actually boost a canine's mood
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Cost of Acting Sad

The cost of sadness in your dog may be nothing more than spending extra time with him. However, in some cases, dogs may need medication and treatment for an illness, injury, or clinical depression. This can cost between $50 for a veterinarian visit to several hundred dollars for medication and treatment. The average cost for treating a sad canine is usually about $100.

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Acting Sad Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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German Shepherd

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Loss Of Appetite, Feeling Of Sadness

Most of the problem is described as above, he’s usually chasing birds or anything else that flies through, barks at cars or trucks that drive through, the last few days he just doesn’t seem to care, it’s just not like him! There are no signs of pain or head shaking, no unnecessary scratching, he just acts blah.

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It would probably be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian, if you are noticing this dramatic change in Behavior. There may be something going on that you're Veterinary and can detect and treat. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 31, 2020

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Golden Retriever

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite, Laying Around, Not Happy Like Usual

She is normally happy and excited and wants to be loved on constantly but now she won’t hardly move or eat. I recently gave her a hair cut for the first time because of the heat. Could this have caused her mood to change?

July 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I I do not think that her haircut would have caused her to have no energy and feel bad, no. There may be something more going on that is making her sick. Without seeing her, it is hard to say what might be happening, but if this is something that keeps going on, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine her, see what might be causing her problems, and get treatment for her. I hope that she is okay.

July 27, 2020

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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None Of These

ebony has been acting strange lately. she does not want to play as much as before. she’s always been energetic but for the past week she has seemed gloomy. she is taking prednisone, simplicef, and benadryl for her skin issues (prescribed by our vet). she is about 6 pounds over her ideal weight, i don’t know if that can be a factor. if she is not getting enough exercise and playtime can that affect her? i’m sure it can. thank you so much for your time!

July 12, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your dog isn't feeling like herself. Without examining your dog, it is very hard to know for sure what might be going on. What you describe could be consistent with a side effect of the medications. Benadryl can cause drowsiness, so she may be tired from that. Simplicef is an antibiotic and can cause some upset stomach if it's not given with food, so it's also possible that that is affecting the way she feels. I recommend that you call your veterinarian and let them know what is going on. Since they are familiar with her case, they may have a better idea of whether her weight could be a factor, or whether it's a side effect of the medications or something else entirely. I hope that your pup starts feeling better soon!

July 12, 2020

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Leia

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Black Lab Mix

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sadness
Mood Swings

My dog Leia used to be the most hyperactive dog you’d ever meet. She’d run around for hours without getting tired, happily greet anyone she saw or heard and would run up and down our stairs to chase a ball all day. Lately, however, she has been seeming sad. There hasn’t been any change in our lives yet she sleeps every moment she gets and has been eating less. We took her to the vet and she was back to her hyper happy self, but as soon as we got home, she was back to being sad. It’s strange mood swings that are common for her. One moment she will be extremely energetic and then in a few minutes doesn’t want anything to do with playing. It’s really strange.

Sept. 21, 2018

Leia's Owner

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Prince

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Shetland Sheepdog

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Decreased Activity

My dog was recently at the vet for treatment for a moderate ear infiection. I suspect he had symtpons 2 weeks prior that i didnt realize. He was examined by the vet (regular check up)and everything seemed ok. Since starting his ear drops hes had decreased level of activity and general disinterested in everything. He has a good appetite and is drinking well. Can this behaviour be pain related? His TSH levels were recently normal. How long before he feels better from the drops?

Aug. 10, 2018

Prince's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Generally when a dog has pain from an ear infection, their appetite is also affected due to the temporomandibular joint being being close to the ear; I cannot say for certain what specifically is causing a decrease in activity but continue with the prescribed treatment and monitor for improvement, if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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Tate

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Labrador Retriever

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Won’T Eat Or Listen Or Come To Me

My lab mix is just laying around and doesn’t get excited or even amused by my presence and I’m his owner, but when my parents come from work he’s a totally normal dog. He won’t eat whenever I put his food down and it’s just me and him at home and this is at anytime during the day. But for some reason he will eat and drink the second they come home, I am completely lost and confused about what to do for my dog because I am starting to get the feeling my dog doesn’t even care that I exist. I literally don’t know what else to do I’ve tried giving treats and he won’t even stand up when I try to give him a treat.

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Prince

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Chihuahua/yorkyteacup

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11 Weeks

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sad,Depressed

My puppy prince is a very active and happy dog.but he started to act sad.I don’t really go to places so I am mostly at the house. My puppy is a Chihuahua mix Yorky mix teacup. He is 11 weeks. A week ago his brother Chubby left (we gave him away but the people we gave it to is our family the family lives like 30 min away we’re we live) sense then he’s been sad.he also has fleas I don’t know if he got ill because of the fleas but we already but him medicine.May you give me advice. Thank you

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