Can a dog die from depression? (+3 reasons why)

In this guide, we will talk about whether dogs get depressed, can dogs die from depression, what are their signs and symptoms, causes, duration, treatment options, and possible medications that can be administered. 

Can a dog get depressed?

Some dogs will sometimes suffer from bouts of depression, as do humans. While dogs do not have the same cognitive ability that we humans do, it does not mean that depression can not be experienced. Depression in dogs is not necessarily the same complex psychiatric condition as it is in humans. Dogs will suffer sadness, however.

They also look sad and withdrawn when dogs are stressed. They might also lose interest in gambling. As a caring dog owner, you will be happy to hear that if it is tackled, you will possibly rescue your dog. Often, getting your dog in for a veterinarian visit is the first step to doing this.

Bonnie Beaver, DVM, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, said that if dogs suffer from depression the same way humans do, veterinarians don’t know. “It’s hard to know because we can’t ask them,” said Beaver, who is also an animal behavior veterinary professional at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine’s small animal clinic. “But there are a few cases in clinical practice where that is the only reason.”

Beaver said that while it is not unusual for pets to get down, particularly during times of transition, long-term depression is rare for dogs to suffer.

Can a dog die from depression?

Veterinary medicine has no proof that pets die from heart failure due to stress, but reports show that pets go through behavioral changes and even death when they lose an owner or a mate, suggesting that maybe something is happening to them.

It is more probable that animals would accidentally terminate their own lives while sad or lonely. Highly-attached animals change their behavior when they lose a companion. In such cases, dogs, for example, sometimes go into depression and deny food and affection until they eventually die.

Symptoms of dog depression

If you know the dog well you might be able to tell if your dog is sad solely based on a facial expression. Do not worry if you skip this sign and notice others. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad owner or that your pet is out of touch. Dogs are beings and some are more likely than others to express emotion.

Behavior and mood shifts

Pay careful attention to how he behaves, to say whether your dog is depressed. Some unexpected behavioral or mood changes may be a warning that something is wrong. But in your dog’s actions, there are particular things you should look for that almost certainly suggest depression.

Change in appetite 

A depressed dog can be seen to stop eating or eat like it is their last meal. It all depends on the dog. Again it’s always better to watch for unexpected and/or serious appetite shifts in this case.

Mostly Sleeping

On a 24-hour day, the average adult dog sleeps from 12 to 14 hours. Puppies sleep for 18 to 20 hours, so here it would be hard to find a rise. If your adult dog, however, continues to sleep like a puppy, he might be depressed.

Licking their paw

An indication that your dog is down in the dumps might be the incessant licking. Bear in mind that including bacterial infections, eczema, joint pain, and dry skin, there are also physiological causes for your dog to chomp on her paws. However, it could be due to depression if your dog is scratching at his paws and displaying other signs on this page.

Hiding around

This could be a sign of sadness if your dog never wants to be around the family anymore. Dogs are pack animals, so it’s necessary for families. It is never a positive sign when they retreat and begin spending more time alone.

Causes of dog depression

There are several common causes in your dog that may or may not result in depression.

Moving physically

Dogs are, like so many of us, creatures of habit. Your dog can pine for her old bone hiding places, even if you move to a larger house with an even larger yard. You can take comfort in knowing that it’s not going to last long if this is the source of your dog’s sadness.

Loss of one’s loved one

Just like the rest of us, dogs will grieve. You can find signs of depression in your dog if a dog’s owner or a nearby companion pet passes away. But if after a big loss, you do not see these signs, don’t worry. Not all dogs, in the same way, grieve. One dog could be crying around the house, while another may give you more doggie kisses to make you feel better.

New Member in the Family

You may note a difference in your dog when you bring home a new girlfriend, roommate, or baby. The time you spend with this new individual or get distracted, your pup will be jealous. As your dog establishes a relationship with this new entity, this type of a depression should be temporary.

A new puppy

Much as when you bring a new family member home, taking a four-legged family member home may affect the mood of your dog. Any time you spend with your new puppy, your pup may get depressed. Again it could be temporary in this case. Your dog will hopefully develop a bond with the new pet and his attitude will be enhanced by this.

Duration of dog depression

According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, an expert for Pup Life Today, a study published in the November 2016 edition of Animals found that canine mourning behaviors, and how long they last will differ from dog to dog. “Their behavior has typically returned to normal within two to six months.”  For each dog experiencing it, the mourning process varies, similar to humans, lasting from weeks to months.

Treatment for dog depression

Dogs are simple animals who do not require much, there are a few simple things that can be done to help your dog get out of depression.

Increase time for cuddles

To know why your dog craves your love, you don’t have to be a canine behavioral trainer. Give more positive feedback and relaxed cuddle time to your dog, if possible.

It’s going to go a long way with a few pats on the head and scratches behind the neck.

Up the value of entertainment

It may help to get the endorphins up by going for a jog or a bike ride when you’re feeling down. For your dog, the same holds.

Research in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science showed that dogs who played games with their owners were less likely than those who did not suffer separation anxiety. The research indicates that your relationship may be strengthened by playing with your dog, which may support your dog through a tough time.

Fill the emptiness

You may be able to help bridge the gap by having another companion animal if your dog is sad about missing a companion animal. Of course, you can only do this if your situation’s fine. And a service dog is never going to replace the one you’ve lost. It can provide a diversion, though, and ultimately, a fresh connection that can help make your dog feel better.

Medications for dog depression

Many individuals tend to go the traditional-medicine path and opt for prescription dog depression treatment. The following drugs are relatively safe and effective in trials, but be mindful that they may have undesirable side effects.


To relieve anxiety in pets, vets will also prescribe this drug. It acts in an attempt to maintain equilibrium by changing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.


Doxepin is used in dogs and other pets to treat depression, some phobias, and OCD behavior. To combat allergies, it can also be used as an antihistamine.


To treat depression, OCD, or panic disorders, your vet can prescribe fluoxetine. This is an alternative to Prozac that is generic.

Seeking a vet for dog depression

It could be time to go to a doctor for a checkup if you find that your dog is not eating or is quite lethargic.

Not only can a veterinarian help diagnose and treat a disease that might be encountered by your dog, but they may also even administer medicine to help with the grief of your pup.

If you think that your dog does not have depression as they are showing some signs but not others, you can check for whether your dog has anxiety.

In this guide, we talked about whether dogs get depressed, can dogs die from depression, what are their signs and symptoms, causes, duration, treatment options, and possible medications that can be administered. 

FAQs: Can a dog die from depression? 

Can a dog die from sadness?

Veterinary medicine offers no evidence that pets die from heart failure due to stress, but studies indicate that when they lose an owner or a friend, pets go through behavioral changes and even death, indicating that maybe something is happening to them.

Can animals die from depression?

When depressed or lonely, it is more likely that animals will unintentionally terminate their own lives. When they lose a partner, highly attached animals change their actions. For instance, dogs often go into depression in such circumstances and refuse food and affection before they finally die.

Is my dog bored or depressed?

Throughout their lives, the interests of a dog will change, but if they no longer enjoy playing or going on walks as they used to then this could be a sign of depression.

Can dogs pick up on depression?

Most dog owners would say that their dog will feel their feelings of stress or sadness. By behaving differently towards them, their dog will react, have a worried look, or sit beside them to show support.

Can dogs become suicidal?

After the death of their owner, some dogs will reject food from some unknown human, an action that may lead to illness or death in extreme cases. The death of grieving animals, rather than the purpose of suicide, is likely to be caused by depression that leads to hunger or drowning.

How do you cheer up a grieving dog?

Give affection and reassurance following the death of another family pet to stop adding to your dog’s grief. “In trying to cheer up your dog, there’s nothing wrong,” says Dr. Bekoff. “Give him an extra treat, an extra walk, a hug, or let him sleep by your side.”


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