Depression In Dogs and Cats - Your Best Friend Pet Boutique

Depression In Dogs and Cats

Written for Your Best Friend Pet Boutique by Dr. Abdul Basit Javed (DVM, RVMP)

Most pet owners are concerned with the physical health of their dogs and cats, but they overlook the importance of mental wellness in pets.

 Many dogs and cats experience depression at some point in their lives. Trauma, pain, separation from owners, poor diet, and other factors can all contribute to depression in pets. Common signs of depression in pets include a lack of interest in play, appetite loss, poor sleep, and so on. Fortunately, you can reduce and treat depression in pets with a few simple strategies.

 If you are a dog or cat owner who suspects your companion is depressed, we are here to help. This blog post is a detailed guide on how to tell whether your pet has depression based on the signs displayed by the pet, as well as strategies to treat depression in dogs and cats, so keep reading.

Signs of Depression In Dogs And Cats

The following are some of the most common signs of depression in dogs and cats:

No interest in play

Cats and dogs who are depressed lose interest in playing. Your dog or cat will avoid visiting parks and playing with toys. No matter how hard you try, your dog or cat will not participate in play sessions and will instead prefer to lie down.

No facial expressions

When dogs and cats are depressed, they do not show any facial expressions. They usually have a dull expression on their face. Even if you give them treats or try to engage them in play activities, their facial expressions will remain unchanged.

Increased or decreased vocalization

Dogs and cats will either stop making typical sounds and noises or will make unusual sounds such as growling and howling.

Appetite loss

Appetite loss is a common sign of depression in pets. Dogs and cats will either stop eating completely or eat less than usual. Depression causes behavioral and hormonal changes in the pet's body, causing them to lose interest in food. If cats and dogs stop eating completely, they may become weak and dehydrated as a result of depression.

Irregular sleep

Depression interferes with dogs' and cats' normal sleep cycles. Your pet will either sleep too much or will not sleep at all.


Pets who are depressed lose their appetite and will not eat properly, and their energy level drops causing them to become lethargic.

Becoming overly dependent

Depression can occasionally cause cats and dogs to become overly dependent on their owners. Normally independent cats and dogs tend to rely more on their owners.

Hiding from owners

Depression causes anxiety in dogs and cats, and they avoid contact with their owners and other family members. They will run away from you and act distressed.

Destructive behavior

Depression can have a significant impact on a dog's or cat's behavior and attitude. Pets that are friendly and docile become aggressive when they are depressed. They may also engage in destructive behaviors such as digging and chewing objects.

Avoiding social engagement with other pets

Depressed dogs and cats avoid socialization with other pets. Even if you take them to pet parks, they will not interact with other pets and will prefer to be alone.

Best Practices for Treating Depression In Dogs And Cats

The following are some of the most effective strategies for treating or managing depression in dogs and cats:

Consult a veterinarian

If you suspect your dog or cat is depressed, the first thing is to visit a veterinarian. For an accurate diagnosis, provide them with a thorough history of your pet as well as any signs you have observed.


If your veterinarian diagnoses your pet with depression, he or she may prescribe medicines and anti-anxiety drugs to manage it so that your pet's overall health is not compromised.

Keep your dog or cat occupied

If you only have one pet at home and it is depressed, attempt to provide it with entertainment by offering toys and engaging in playing activities. You can also bring another pet home to keep them occupied.

Provide your pets with plenty of affection and care

When owners neglect their pets and fail to provide them with love, care, and affection, dogs and cats become sad and depressed because they are social creatures who enjoy it when their owners show them affection.

Regularly socialize your dogs and cats

Socializing your dogs and cats from a young age can help prevent depression later in life. Also, keeping cats and dogs entirely indoors, and limiting all social contact with other pets, is not recommended because it will make them depressed and unhappy because they are social creatures who like to express their emotions.

Change their environment

Making a few changes to your dog or cat's environment might sometimes help alleviate their depression. For example providing them with a new bed, food bowl, etc. can be helpful.

Change their diet

Changing the diet of dogs and cats can also help them recover from depression. If your pet does not like the meal, it may feel distressed, which can lead to depression. You can make them happy by changing their diet, but always consult a veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's diet.

Regular exercise

Exercise is an important component in keeping pets healthy and free of anxiety and depression, yet many pet owners overlook its relevance. Taking your dog or cat for walks or engaging them in play activities will keep them both physically and mentally stimulated.

Grooming and massage

Grooming and massage are effective ways to relax and calm your dog or cat, which also helps with depression. Grooming or massaging your pet will also assist to deepen your bond and is a great opportunity to spend quality time with your beloved pet.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine technique that includes placing needles into the pet's body to relieve nerve pressure and reduce muscle stress. Dopamine hormone is released in the body of your dog or cat as muscles relax and nerves are stimulated, which helps lessen depression and makes them feel much better.


  1.  Causes of Depression in Your Cat and Dog. (2020, November 30). Authentica Pets.
  2.  Howe, S., DVM. (2022). Dog Depression: Signs, Causes, and Treatment. PetMD.
  3.  Tips for Helping Anxious & Depressed Dogs | Charlotte Vet. (2021, July 30).


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