How to Tell if Your Dog Is Stressed Out

Cute puppy with diaper and shoes at home, she makes mess

Your dog isn’t just an animal; he’s your best friend and furry companion.

If you notice some behavioral changes in your dog, it’s possible that he’s stressed, depressed or sad.

Whether this means he won’t eat or just doesn’t feel like himself, here are some telltale signs of your dog being stressed, depressed or sad.



Feeling tired and lacking energy is a common sign of stress in dogs.

Dogs that suffer from depression will also tend to lose interest in toys and other items they used to enjoy.

Lethargy may be accompanied by not getting out of bed in the morning (some canines will sleep up to 16 hours a day).

Lack of interest in socializing with others and feeling weak when physically exerting themselves.

In extreme cases, lethargy can lead to obesity due to over-eating as well as physical symptoms such as slowed heart rate and decreased breathing.

These symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and separation anxiety.

It’s important to note that lethargy alone is not necessarily an indicator of canine depression, but rather one symptom among many.

If you suspect your dog is depressed, consider taking him/her to a veterinarian for an examination and possibly therapy options including medication.


Lack of interest in daily activities

If your dog seems depressed, she may stop participating in activities she normally enjoys.

She’ll be less likely to come out of her crate when you call her and may go days without greeting you at the door when you get home from work.

She’ll start sleeping more and become less interactive with other people and animals.

Keep an eye on how much she sleeps – a lethargic dog that sleeps too much could have serious health problems.

It might be time for a trip to your vet!

A lack of interest in daily activities can also indicate depression.

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in eating, playing, or interacting with family members, she may be depressed.

Dogs need human companionship just as much as humans do – don’t let them suffer because they don’t know any better!

To help dogs who are feeling down, try encouraging them to engage in their favorite pastimes and give them plenty of love and attention.


Not eating or no appetite

When a dog goes for extended periods without eating, it’s usually because he’s not feeling well.

Dogs may also show no appetite when they’re depressed.

A dog that won’t eat is an immediate concern—it can be a sign of a serious illness such as kidney failure.

Consult your vet immediately if your dog stops eating.

If you notice other symptoms listed here in addition to the loss of appetite, take him to your vet anyway.

Depression and stress are both treatable conditions and you don’t want them to get worse while you wait for a diagnosis.

You can help reduce your dog’s anxiety by feeding him his regular food at regularly scheduled times.

Also, consider offering high-quality canned food. It has more water than kibble, which makes it easier for sick dogs to eat.

Make sure there are no distractions around mealtime; keep people and pets away from your dog so he feels safe and secure while eating.

Some dogs like to have their bowls placed on hard surfaces instead of carpeting or rugs.

Others prefer quiet rooms with minimal foot traffic.

Consider these preferences when deciding where to feed your dog each day.


Loss of energy

If your dog doesn’t seem interested in his favorite activities, it might be time for a checkup.

And keep an eye out for other signs: lethargy and fatigue. Exercise can help perk up both you and your pup. (If he isn’t motivated to get outside and go for a walk, it could be another sign of depression.)

Just make sure he gets plenty of rest between outings.

For example, two 15-minute walks are better than one 30-minute jaunt.

This will give him time to relax and recuperate before heading back out again.


Fearful behavior

Often accompanied by other signs of anxiety, such as compulsive barking and peeing.

People often misidentify fearful behavior as aggression.

For example, say you had a loud party on Saturday night with lots of people and noise going on.

You come home Sunday afternoon and your dog jumps back in fear at your presence even though you’ve spent all day with him.

He may have been perfectly fine before you left, but he was also exposed to some scary things (loud noises, strangers) that caused him to feel stressed out.

So when you return home, he’s not necessarily being aggressive—he just doesn’t know how to act around you because he feels so uncomfortable!


Excessive barking, whining, and scratching at doors

Dogs may exhibit signs of being stressed when they’re left alone for long periods of time.

When left unattended for long periods of time dogs tend to have a much more difficult time tolerating their solitude and begin to exhibit negative behaviors including excessive barking and whining.

If you notice your dog exhibiting these negative behaviors, it may be an indication that he’s feeling isolated from his owner(s) or his pack mates.

This can cause him to feel anxious, depressed, and even lonely which could lead to destructive behavior such as chewing on furniture or doors.

In order to avoid these unwanted behaviors, it’s important that owners leave their dogs.

With toys, chew bones, and other items designed to keep them occupied while they are away from home.

These items will also help keep them mentally stimulated during times when owners aren’t able to spend time with them.


Changes in sleeping patterns

If your dog exhibits behavioral changes in how and when it sleeps, you may want to take note.

According to Dr. Ilana Reisner of Animal Behavior Clinic, Any change in a dog’s normal sleep pattern can indicate stress.

If your pet no longer naps during regular time periods or spends more time awake at night than he used to, talk with your vet about what steps you can take to help.

Other signs that could mean your dog is feeling stressed include pacing, excessive panting, hiding, or cowering behind furniture.

These behaviors are common among dogs who are afraid or feel vulnerable.

Similarly, a change in vocal patterns—crying out for no reason—can be another sign that something isn’t right.


Changes in routine behavior

If your dog starts acting out of character for no obvious reason (such as barking constantly when he’s usually quiet) it could be because he’s feeling stressed or depressed.

Changes in routine behavior can also indicate a general sense of anxiety in dogs, which can lead to depression.

If you notice unusual and significant changes in your dog’s daily patterns, it might be worth making an appointment with your vet.

He or she will be able to run tests that may help determine whether your dog is suffering from clinical depression.

Check this article on tips to groom your dog properly.

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