Can Dogs Get Sad?

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Sadness is a huge part of life. You may feel a little sad if a friend doesn't text you back. The loss of a loved one can cause so much sadness that depression sets in. Scientists have proven that it's one of the very first emotions that we as humans feel. Many different things can cause sadness, and it affects us in a whole range of ways. But do dogs get sad? Are they capable of feeling emotions like we are?

Can Dogs Get Sad?

YES!

It's a fact, dogs can definitely get the blues. Studies suggest that your pup can actually feel the same emotions as a human toddler. These include joy, fear, happiness and, as we've mentioned, sadness! It's even possible for your pooch to become depressed, especially after losing someone it loves. It may break your heart thinking about it, but knowing that dogs get sad too can help you learn how you can cheer your canine companion up!

Is My Dog Sad?

When you're down, your furry friend is always there, giving you love and bringing your smile back. But if they get sad, how can you spot it and return the favor? A sad dog won't find joy in his favorite things, like playing or going on walks. He may not even bother to greet you at the door when you get home. If depression has set in, you may notice your pooch isn't eating much, and he may start to lose weight.

Just like people, dogs feel loss after a loved one dies. They can also become depressed after a traumatic injury or an attack from another animal. Sadness is caused by events that happen in the dog's life.

While your vet will probably give your dog a physical examination, they will also need to ask many questions about the dog’s behavior at home. The vet will want to know how long your dog has been acting differently, and if there are any changes in its life.

If you'd like more details about behavioral problems in dogs, give this a read: Behavior Problems in Dogs .

How Do I Treat My Dog's Sadness?

There are things you can do to help bring the wag back to your dog's tail. Be patient though, sometimes a dog just needs time to mourn.

You may find that all your pup needs is a good distraction from his mental anguish. Take him out to his favorite dog park, or for a long walk or a swim! These outings are filled with exercise and stimulation, which can help take your dog's mind off of his sadness. Extreme cases may merit medication, however, this is generally not a long-term solution.

Time really does make the biggest difference when it comes to sadness and grief in dogs. Be sure to give your pooch extra loving and attention during this time, and keep walks regular and food healthy

If you'd like to read stories from owners dealing with behavioral problems like depression in their dogs, check out our guide to Behavioral Problems in Dogs .

How Is Sadness Similar in Dogs and Humans?

People and pooches get bummed out in similar ways. Sadness manifests in both as:

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Depression

  • Excessive amounts of sleep

  • Lack of excitement

How is Sadness Different in Dogs and Humans?

Dogs have one main disadvantage when it comes to being sad, they can't talk it out! Differences between canines and humans when it comes to sadness include:

  • There is no biological test for depression in dogs, while there is for people

  • It's easy to mistake medical issues with sadness in dogs

  • Humans cry tears when they are really sad, but dogs don't cry from emotions

Case Study

While some may be quick to pop pills into their pup to relieve depression, most vets will tell you that drugs on their own are not a cure. One hound seemed really down in the dumps. His behavior had drastically changed and he was no longer excited about his favorite doggy activities. While his owners consider medication, they decided to try some routine changes first. By making walks and fun times a priority and by giving the pooch some extra loving, they were able to bring him back to the land of the living. Persistence is key though, so be prepared to put in extra work for weeks or even months to bring the sparkle back to your fur-baby’s eyes.