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Signs your dog might be depressed, according to an expert

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By Sophia Mitrokostas, INSIDER

Stressed dogs might lick themselves non-stop or become destructive.

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If you notice that your dog has started licking or chewing to an excessive degree, it might be a sign that your pooch isn't happy.

Jones revealed that destructiveness can sometime be a sign of emotional turmoil. Excessive licking can also be a sign of anxiety or stress, as dogs often employ this behavior to soothe themselves.

Of course, you'll want to make sure that there isn't anything stuck in your dog's paw or that he hasn't been stepping on irritating surfaces (like hot pavement) before talking to your vet.


Losing interest in walks and playtime might be a red flag.

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Although a drop in energy can simply be a sign of aging, Jones cautioned that a sudden change in activity levels might be a sign of emotional turmoil.

"A dog that is reluctant to leave the home could indicate that all is not well either on a physical or emotional level. One would normally expect a dog to be less enthusiastic when in a depressed state," Jones said.

If you notice that your otherwise healthy dog isn't interested in playtime, try keeping them active and entertained while rewarding them for showing signs of happiness like a wagging tail. Arthritis might be another reason your dog is suddenly avoiding walks, so be sure to check in with your vet if you suspect anything is amiss.


A depressed dog might be too upset to get enough sleep.

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Any kind of significant change in a dog's sleep patterns is cause for concern, and a restless pup that never seems to settle down might be reacting to stress or anxiety.

"If the dog is in a stressed state and displaying signs of anxiety such as whining or howling in the owner's absence say, then the dog will often not sleep during that period," Jones said.

A dog that seems restless or unable to sleep might be dealing with a mood problem or high levels of anxiety.


But excessive sleepiness might also be a sign that something is wrong.

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Some dogs seem to spend all day napping, but you should take note when a formerly energetic pooch seems especially sleepy.

"I have seen some dogs that are mourning for the loss of a loved one be quite subdued and sleep more than would be expected," Jones said.

If your dog has recently suffered the death of an owner or close human companion, be sure to take note of frequent napping. A dog that doesn't seem to react to your presence or seems groggy throughout the day may need to be evaluated by a vet.


A depressed dog might also develop some strange habits.

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A dog dealing with depression or anxiety may start to exhibit unusual behavior. Pay extra attention if this behavior crops up after a potentially stressful event such as the death of another household pet or the loss of an owner.

"It is possible that a dog may develop new and unwanted behavior routines such as pacing, circling, or obsessive behaviors such as shadow or light chasing," Jones told INSIDER.

Other habits or behaviors may include excessive barking or losing a degree of obedience that was previously shown by the dog.


Your dog might be depressed if they seem withdrawn, but they also could just be getting used to sudden changes.

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If you dog seems withdrawn or less responsive than usual, it might be a sign of depression. However, Jones also noted that dogs may take a little while to adapt to new circumstances.

"Dogs can respond to sudden changes in a way that we as humans could perceive as depression or being withdrawn," Jones said.

"Thankfully, dogs are usually able to adapt to new situations very well and soon bounce back to their old selves in not time at all, especially when we ensure that their basic needs are being met with elements such as adequate exercise, good diet, companionship and a warm and secure place to rest."


Keeping your dog comfortable and healthy is the best way to combat depression.

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If you suspect that your pup is suffering from depression, make sure all their basic needs are being met. Give them warmth, healthy food, comfortable bedding, and plenty of attention. You should also make sure that your dog knows what to expect and how you want them to behave.

"When the owner provides a clear and stable set of balanced rules to live by, a dog gains a sense of security," advised Jones.

"Maintaining a leadership-based style with the dog regardless of recent changes can help a great deal in my experience, as a routine provides emotional security." 

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