Dog depression after puppies leave (is it real)

In this guide, we will explain what dog depression after puppies leave is, and what can be done to help them recover from depression.

Dog depression after puppies leave

Bonnie Beaver, DVM, Executive Director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, stated vets don’t even understand if dogs experience depression in the similar way we humans do. “It’s impossible to tell and we can’t question them,” added Beaver, who is also a veterinarian expert in animal care at the small animal clinic at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. “However there are a few cases in medical care where it might be the only plausible reason.”

Dog depression after puppies leave depends on various factors such as age of a puppy, the emotional impact of the dog, and perhaps even her species. It is worth remembering that there is proof that female dogs love their babies. They are capable of understanding and form relationships amongst each puppy. In addition, conception and childbirth improve your dog’s maternal instinct by hormones. This is at its peak during breastfeeding and shortly after birth, but declines with time.

That being said, when your puppies are between 7 to 8 weeks old, your female dog can deliberately attempt to escape the company of her puppies. Their teats can continue to get sore due to the sharp bites of the puppy. Its hyperactive behavior would lead her to seek her own refuge. Steady movement from this time will actually provide comfort to your female dog, when she will get more time to herself. She will relax and keep troublesome puppies from running all over them. Even so, removing all the dogs at once will definitely inevitably lead to grieving. Furthermore the split must be phased or the replacement of one litter at a time of re-homing. Yet another research concluded that the more seasoned a mother is, the less emotional connection she feels to her children.

In fact, dogs can also experience postpartum depression.

Evidence of dog depression after puppies leave

Many individuals claim that dogs do not remember like we humans do who our kids or mother is. It is therefore unlikely that the mother dog would experience depression because she misses her puppies. But other studies have shown that the dogs are able to recognize their family members be it their mother or siblings even after prolonged periods of separation. So maybe not in all female dogs but some of them can experience depression after their puppies leave them.

There seem to be a number of stories about individuals that tell female dogs recognize their babies and dogs recognize their moms, but then again there are several instances from individuals that suggest the contrary. Galit Reuben, Executive Director of Dogs Without Borders, informed, “I’ve seen mothers connected with babies at adoption functions, and mothers do not always appear to behave in any odd way. When she’s a friendly dog who loves to interact with other dogs, she’ll respond favorably. If she’s nervous and not socialized, she’ll react appropriately.”

Although the report indicates that this is not the true essence of the problem. As per Daily Dog Discoveries, scientist Peter G. Hepper performed a research that showed that almost 4 or 5-1/2 weeks of age, the sensory reaction of a dog was good enough to identify its parents and siblings. He further moved on to split the mothers as well as the babies for 2 years to notice how the dogs remembered one another in a prolonged period of time, surly, the mother was able to recognise her already adult dogs, and that they could remember their mom.

Decades later, William Carr as well as other Beaver College researchers drew on Hepper’s studies to see whether dogs can remember their parents and siblings after much prolonged periods of absence. The scientists found that puppies who were assigned a blanket that smelled of their mother sniffed at it for a substantially considerable duration compared to a blanket that smelled like that of a stray dog of the very same kind. These reactions still existed in puppies who had not seen their mother in more than a decade.

Symptoms of dog depression after puppies leave

Dog depression signs are somewhat close to those seen in humans, explained John Ciribassi, DVM, former president of the American Animal Behavior Veterinary Society. “The puppies will be sad. They are likely to be unresponsive. They often start changing their eating and sleeping behaviour patterns. They’re not interested in the activities they once loved.”

However doctors caution those signs can however mean that a dog has a health issue, so the primary way to proceed should still be a complete vet check-up. A pet who is sad to be around and doesn’t want to go on a stroll might just have muscle spasms, Beaver claims.

Treatment for dog depression after puppies leave

Many dogs recover quickly from sadness within several days to a few months with only a little additional TLC, Ciribassi stated. “Keeping them involved, have more of the activities they want to be doing, get them to workout somewhat more, and they’ll be all right,” he stated.

Also encourage them when they exhibit signs of excitement, informed Beaver. “When the only activity that always gets some tail wiggle from your dog is a car journey, then bring him on a couple of brief drives a day, thanking and encouraging him when he seems happier,” Beaver suggested.

And be mindful not to promote negative actions by providing affection and treatment to a sad dog while mopping, Beaver added. The dog is going to believe you’re thanking them for that action.

“Occasionally, if the dog is saddened by the lack of a friend, having another pet will help,” informed Ciribassi. But it has to be handled cautiously, bearing in mind both the interests of the household and the dog, he added.

Increase cuddle time

Like when we are sad or depressed we enjoy the company of dogs and love cuddling with them. In the same way dogs also love cuddling with us when they feel low. Give attention, love and care for when there is dog depression after puppies leave. Rubbing and scratching behind their ears or tummy is always welcome by dogs.

But make sure to not overdo it as dogs like anyone else also desire their time.

Play games with them

When your dog is feeling sad or depressed, play their favourite games with them. This will help increase their bond with you and make them feel energetic and distracted. You need to remember that being outdoors is always beneficial for the dogs and they look after spending time with you. 

Play some music

Like us humans dogs too enjoy good music and many researchers have confirmed this theory. Dogs have been seen to respond positively to certain music tunes and rhythms and it does elevate their moods. For dog depression after puppies leave, playing some music may be beneficial especially reggae and soft rock like Bob Marley songs.

Medications for dog depression after puppies leave

When nothing else helps, antidepressants will assist dogs overcome their depression. Karen Sueda, DVM, diplomat at the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, suggested stressed dog treatments are just like those often used depressed human beings, Prozac, or Zoloft.Perhaps Clomicalm, an authorised FDA drug can be used for the control of separating distress in dogs.

“It’s important that people come to grips with the issue before it gets too serious,” Sueda said. “The moment cases come to me, they’re terrible. But most cases will be successfully handled early on with lifestyle improvements and environmental enrichment, so we don’t have to get to the point that we need to use medications.”

Some medications that can help are:


Amitriptyline is a medication that is given for the treatment of anxiety and depression as it adjusts the serotonin and norepinephrine chemical levels in the brain and restore the levels to balance.


Doxepin is used to treat depression, phobias and OCD behaviour in dogs.


Doctors recommend Fluxotine for the treatment of depression, OCD and panic disorders in dogs.

Beaver stated it could take up to two months for medications to become successful.But unlike humans who have always been on antidepressants for long periods of time, most dogs will get stronger in six to 12 months and then get rid of medication, she concluded.  

In this guide, we explained what dog depression after puppies leave is, and what can be done to help them recover from depression.

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FAQs: Dog depression after puppies leave

Do dogs get depressed when their puppies leave?

Yes, dogs get depressed when their puppies leave. They’re already going to be unhappy to have “lost” their mother; thus, splitting pups from one another is unfair, and that’s what makes them sob at home for the first several days. Dogs don’t have the same social relationship as people have with their relatives. A dog will be totally comfortable to be bred away from his litters.

Do Puppies feel sad when they leave their mom?

Frequent crying, howling, screaming, or finding a puppy continuously underfoot might be an effort, but please remember that your new pup has since been removed from the comfort and protection of everything he’s ever experienced. Being anxious after losing his mother is absolutely normal.

Why is my dog leaving her puppies?

If your pet has been sleeping or staying away from the litter for a long time, it is possible that she might have refused it. She will also exhibit symptoms of tension, and in some situations she may literally pick up and carry the babies away from her. An even more strong indication of possible dismissal is that whenever you hear the litter’s prolonged crying.

Do dogs miss their moms?

Some claim the dogs can’t recall their mothers. He will look at the possibility that the male dog is going to partner with the mother as confirmation that the dogs have no awareness of each other. The puppy, though, has no conscience. If the puppies were put in the area, 84% of the time they reached their mothers.

Can a puppy stay with its mother forever?

Puppies do not really remain with their mothers always. If a puppy is split too soon, there could be complications, like attachment disorder. Even though it’s not adopted too early, but is placed apart from all other animals, precious social interaction time may be wasted.

Do dogs miss their littermates?

Although some scientists think that a dog may not remember their litters, there is also some proof to demonstrate that this is not accurate and that they can possibly do so. Steven R. Lindsy’s hypothesized dogs have the capacity to recognize their offspring later on in life and can sometimes recognize their family.


Do Mother Dogs Miss Their Puppies?