When we think of family, many of us include our pets as part of that vision. Pets, particularly dogs, become integral connections between family members, and our trusted companions. We love our pets and just like family, we worry about them when they are upset, sick, or tired.
Sometimes it is hard to tell, but dogs can have similar emotions as people. Although sometimes it may be difficult to tell, our dogs can also get sad. Dogs may not cry out loud with tears running down their face, but there are ways a dog can express sadness.
The bigger question is why does my dog look so sad? And if my dog is sad, what do I do about it? By paying attention to our dog’s behavior, we can try to figure out what is bothering them and what we can do to help them. Knowing that there are options to help them probably is a big relief.
Although sometimes it may be easy and obvious about what may be bothering them, sometimes it takes some investigation to figure things out.
Why Does My Dog Look Sad?
Dog’s express emotions that may be similar to those experienced by humans – dogs can be impacted by many different things in their lives that may shift their emotions, and like their owners, we often try to place emotions on their behavior. Just think of those sad puppy eyes looking at you despondently, and you don’t know what could be wrong!
It makes you feel so sad when they turn their head, look deep into your eyes, raise those fuzzy, cute eyebrows at you, and you think “Oh no!
My sweet baby is so sad!” You can spend a lot of time worrying about your dog’s feelings – you know it is easy to become worried about our sweet loving animals.
So, when you are getting those sweet sad puppy eyes, do you need to worry that something is wrong?
Maybe they are in pain? Is your dog depressed? Is that even something that can happen?
Dog Depression – Is This a Real Thing?
Believe it or not, dogs can experience depression, although it is not as complex and complicated as depression can be with humans. We know that dogs have feelings and sadness can certainly be one of them as well.
Dogs can become sad and exhibit sad symptoms when something happens in their life. Dogs that lose an owner or lose a pet companion can feel the loss. As you know, your dog loves it when you come home and play with them.
They form a loving relationship with their owners, and when they are gone or hurt, or no longer with them, they can become sad and lonely. This can become a long-term condition if your dog cannot reconnect with the people that care for them.
What Does Depression Look Like For Dogs?
Since dogs do not have the words to use to express that they are sad and unhappy, they use what they have in their arsenal – their expressive eyes, their tail, and their energy.
If your dog’s behavior appears more lethargic, sad, and withdrawn, then take a step back and see what has changed in their life.
Have they had the loss of someone they love? If their owner or someone they love recently passed away, your dog may just appear flat with no energy. Has your schedule changed or has there been something significant changed in their life?
Whether you have started a new job, changed your work hours, or if your favorite kid has gone back to school, your dog will certainly feel those changes, making them appear sad. Life changes will definitely impact your dog’s emotions just like they would impact yours.
Being aware of what has changed in their world will help to narrow down what you can to help them to feel better.
Now if you haven’t noticed any big changes in your dog’s life, it would be important to check in with your vet to ensure that there is nothing medically wrong with your pet – once you have cleared out medical reasons for the behavior changes, it is time to work on making your dog feel better!
How to Cheer Up Your Dog
If you have determined that there are no major medical reasons for the changes in your dog, it is time to cheer them up. Dogs that seem to feel flat and unhappy may need some help to get them out of their funk.
Exercise: A sad dog may need to get outside and walk.
Taking some scheduled walks with your dog will help them to start a new habit, and let them know to predict that they will get outside and have some fun.
New toys: If your dog is a fan of toys, maybe taking them to the pet store to pick out some new things will cheer them up.
Allow them to pick out some things that they seem interested in and bring them home. Make a big deal out of the new toy and play with them to make them cheer up.
Set up a schedule: Put together a schedule for your dog – their meals, walks, new treats (like peanut butter), and playtime. By letting them know how to predict their day, and that there is fun during their day, they will hopefully start to feel a bit more like themselves.
Snuggle time: Sometimes all your dog needs is time – time with you, and time with their people. By giving them time to hang out, get some focused engagement on them directly, your dog will feel better and recognize that you are there for them. It is amazing what some quality time and snuggles will do to improve your dog’s mood.
Dogs sometimes just need a hug, just like people. Giving them love and attention is an easy way to try and cheer them up.
Hopefully, by now you understand a bit more about your dog’s psyche. Dogs, like people, need love and attention, and if things have changed in their world, this can cause them to feel sad and unhappy.
Our job as their owners is to make sure that they are not sick, and if they are not sick, then figuring out what is bothering them. Even if nothing major has shifted for your dog, paying attention to things that are going on with them may give you some insight into how they feel.
Lucky for us, dogs are forgiving and loveable, and when you spend more time with them just playing and loving on them, they will hopefully start to feel better and more like themselves. As their owner, you will be the best person to investigate what may have changed in your dog’s life, and how to make them feel better.
Dogs can be the heart of our family, and when they are sad it can make us sad as well. Getting some serious playtime and snuggles with your pup will probably make both of you feel better and able to face the day.