A dog laying down next to a food bowl, looking sad.

5 Subtle Signs A Dog Is Sad And How To Help

Every creature in this universe possesses feelings and emotions. They may feel and express happiness or sadness. When it comes to dogs, there is no doubt they can communicate their feelings through body language. But the question is what are the signs a dog is sad?

Dogs can experience sadness just like people do, and there are often clear signs a dog is feeling down. If your dog seems lethargic, isn’t as playful as usual, or has stopped eating, it may be that it’s depressed. In some cases, a change in environment or the addition of a new pet can cause a dog to become sad. You may also see physical changes in your dog when it’s feeling down, such as excessive shedding or mucus production.

5 Subtle Signs A Dog Is Sad

A dog sitting down and looking sad.
Feel better, buddy!

Dog owners should be aware of the subtle signs their pup is feeling down. Here are five clear signs to watch out for.

1. Lack Of Energy

Being the active, energetic pet you know and love, a sudden lack of energy is one of the first subtle signs your dog may be feeling upset. When your pup no longer takes pleasure in activities they usually enjoy, this could be a sign something isn’t right.

2. Changes In Eating Habits

If you serve your dog its favorite food but it doesn’t take any interest in it, this could be a sign of sadness. Loss of appetite is common among dogs that are sad or depressed. If your pup doesn’t seem to have much of an appetite, it could be an indication something isn’t quite right emotionally.

3. Sleeping More Often

Being a pet parent, you are sure about the sleeping habits of your dog. But when your pup starts to sleep more than usual, what do you think about this new change? At the start, you can take it easy, but with time, if this persists, it could be a sign of sadness. Sad dogs tend to sleep more than usual.

4. Withdrawn Or Not Wanting To Interact

If your pup is used to being an active and social creature but has begun to become more withdrawn from interacting with family members or other animals in the household, they may be feeling bothered or not set mentally. If they start avoiding situations where they were once present, such as playing outdoors or spending time with certain people, your dog could be sad.

5. Whimpering Or Whining

Many dogs will whimper, whine, or even cry when they are somber. This can be a sure sign your pup is not in the best state of mind. It shows they are in pain or need something from you. It is important to pay special attention to the whimpers and try to figure out what could be causing their distress.

What Can Cause A Dog To Become Sad

Your pup might become sad due to several reasons. The most common ones include the following. 

1. Loss Of A Close Canine Companion

Dogs are well known for their dominant quality which is “faithfulness”. They are not only faithful to humans but also to their canine companions. Our furry friends often form strong bonds with their canine fellows, and when separated from them, they can feel anxious or even depressed.

2. Being Separated From Their Owner

As a dog owner, you know dogs are social animals and they tend to bond strongly with us. When a dog is separated from its owner, even for short periods, it can become sad and lonely. If you’re away on vacation or a business trip, your pup might feel anxious and depressed you’re not around anymore.

3. Lack Of Proper Exercise Or Attention

Walking is a prominent and favorite hobby of a pup. Dogs need regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Overlooking them or not giving them enough attention can lead to depression and anxiety in dogs.

4. Boredom Or Lack Of Stimulating Activities

Dogs are full of energy and always look for activities they can engage in. When they don’t find the right stimulation, they can become bored or depressed. Your busy routine may stop you from giving enough time to your pup. It may result in being left alone and feeling lonely.

5. Changes In The Home Environment

Your pup relies heavily on routine, and any sudden changes can leave them feeling confused and stressed. A change of home, a baby’s arrival in the family, or even someone moving out can all be very traumatizing to a pup.

6. Exposure To Traumatic Events

Just like humans, dogs can also get affected by traumatic events. These include:

  • Exposure to loud noises, such as fireworks or thunderstorms
  •  Witnessing an accident 

This can cause your pup to become scared and stressed out.

How To Cheer Up A Sad Dog? 

Seeing your pup sad is heartbreaking. So, here are some simple tips you can follow to make sure your pup stays happy and healthy.

1. Spend Time With Them

Spending quality time with your dog provides them with comfort and security. Just cuddle up together on the couch. You can also: 

  • Try rubbing your puppy’s ears.
  • Pet them.
  • Let them lay next to you.

Just like people, dogs need comforting words when feeling down. Try talking to your pup in an understanding, soothing voice.

2. Play Fetch

Your dog is a jolly creature and often spends its time playing and doing fun things. So, when your pup is sad, playing a game of fetch could be the answer. This helps keep their mind and body active and can help give them an outlet to release their sadness. It’s also a great way to bond with your pooch.

3. Go For A Walk

As a human being, whenever you are upset and sad, what’s something that can help? For many, the answer is a walk. Similarly, this works with animals like dogs who are feeling low and blue. Taking your furry friend out for a walk in the park can help them forget their sadness. Doing this will give them some mental relaxation by changing their environment and making them feel better.

4. Give Them A Treat

A happy tummy leads to a happy pup, so give your fur baby a special treat as a pick-me-up. A treat can be a great way to cheer up a sad dog. Feed your pup something special like: 

  • An extra scoop of their favorite kibble.
  • Or give them a doggie biscuit.

 This will show them you care, and it may help take their mind off what’s bothering them.

5. Consult A Veterinarian

If your pup’s sadness and low spirits persist, then consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are also veterinary behaviorists, who are specially trained to assess and treat both medical and behavioral conditions in animals. They can help diagnose the underlying issue and suggest appropriate treatments.

In Conclusion: Signs A Dog Is Sad

Your pup’s behavior can be a telltale sign of how they’re feeling. If your pup seems distant, listless, and is no longer interested in their favorite activities, then it may be a sign they are sad. With love, patience, and understanding from you, your pup’s spirits should be brightened shortly.

But if what you’re doing isn’t helping, then calling a veterinarian should be the next step. They can provide you with a comprehensive evaluation of your dog, review the circumstances that might be leading to the sadness, recommend changes in diet and exercise, and suggest medications to lessen anxiety.

Is your dog suffering from sadness? Had any luck with certain strategies? If you feel comfortable, let us know in the comments below.

Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal is a licensed veterinarian with more than 5 years of experience in veterinary medicine. After receiving his DVM degree from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, he worked as a veterinarian in both government and private sectors. Dr. Mohsin specializes in small animal medicine and surgery and has experience treating all types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, and reptiles. He has a passion for pets and has written several eBooks on pet care and surgery. In addition to his clinical work, he also volunteers his time for various animal rescue organizations and helps care for injured and abandoned animals.