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Is My Dog Really Sad and Depressed?

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English Bulldog

The Spirit of Bo, leading you to better understanding of life with your pets:

Do dogs get sad? Do they feel human emotions such as depression, isolation and loneliness? Yes, they can, especially in response to major changes in life, such as moving, the loss of a family member, or even the loss of another household pet. Some of the tell-tale signs may include lethargy, loss of appetite, sluggish behavior, lowered water intake, a loss of interest in play or other physical activity, and, on occasion, even a mournful howl.

While such responses do not typically linger for extended periods of time, it is necessary to show patience and empathy, but don’t overdo it. Do not feed into that negative emotional process or the dog may soon tune into the fact that you shower him with attention when he acts in such a manner. For example, he may sit by the food bowl but refuse to eat. Once you begin consoling him and showing him affection, then he will respond. What can result from this is that he realizes he gets more attention by just sitting by the bowl than actually eating what is in it. Hence, picky eating habits can emerge.

To help your dog through the transition, stick to a normal routine and schedule. Even though the grief may still be with him, the day-to-day distractions can alleviate some of that burden by keeping his mind occupied in other ways.

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