A few months ago, the first dog I had since he was a puppy passed away. Sage was my family's best friend. He passed away suddenly and early in his life, so it was a shock to all of us -- even my second dog, Bentley. After Sage passed, I noticed a sudden change in Bentley. He would mope around, he never wanted to play anymore, and he wasn't interested in cuddling like he always was. So, I decided to research if depression in dogs is an actual concept.
Obviously, it is hard to ask your dog if they're depressed, well, because they can't talk (still a concept I'm trying to get over), but there are signs and symptoms we can look for to help our furry friends get out of this state of mind. According to Web MD, dogs can get depression just like humans. If they become inactive, or their eating/sleeping habits change, your dog may be depressed. Just like humans, they won't enjoy things they once did.
So, what causes a dog to become depressed? Pups pick up on our emotions. If you're happy and excited to see them, they will automatically start wagging their tails and kissing your face. On the other hand, if they feel the grief surrounding them, this can carry over to their own mentality as well. If the dog is not getting the attention he used to before the grieving period their owner is going through, this could cause stress for the dog. Two major scenarios that cause depression in dogs are when an animal companion dies, or their owner dies. Other things such as moving, having a newborn in the house, or getting a new pet could also cause them to fall into this sullen state.
If humans can get therapy, dogs should be able to as well. I researched some ways that dogs can get out of depression, even if it's not by seeing a specialized therapist for dogs. Dogs Naturally Magazine suggests that more exercise will help the dog get through this depression. "And remember the increased oxygen intake helps every process in the body, so get out there with your dog. Just the two of you and DO something." They also suggest to reward your furry friend when they show signs of happiness, to let them know that you're there for them and will help them along the way.
Dogs are smarter than we think, and we take that for granted sometimes. Web MD also states to be careful by not giving them treats to make them happy, as this will only encourage their mopey behavior. If your pet is depressed because they lost their animal companion, sometimes getting another friend may help them. Not that anything will ever replace your passed friend, but this addition to your family may shift your pet's attention to other things. When my mom watches a puppy at our house, Bentley gets excited to play with him and usually runs around the house, stealing his toys for fun.
Always keep in mind that your puppy has feelings too, and should be treated the same way as you would treat a family member or a friend going through a hard time. They are your best friend, after all, and you are the puppy's whole life! They deserve to be treated as such for all the love they give to us.