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Dogs and Mental Health: What You Need To Know

Mental Health in Dogs

Mental health in dogs is an issue many pet owners tend to take lightly. But just like mental health awareness is critical for humans, it is also necessary for dogs to live a healthy, comfortable life. As dogs cannot talk and express themselves, like humans, it is vital to be aware of their everyday behavior, so you can easily detect any ongoing unusual activity. Usually, telltale signs of mental agitation, such as anxiety or depression. They include symptoms such as loss of appetite, hiding, withdrawal, excessive sleeping, and much more.

Mental Illnesses and Symptoms

There can be many reasons why dogs can develop mental illnesses. A dog owner must recognize these odd symptoms in their pet canine’s everyday behavior to promptly detect and deal with them.

1. Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can occur in dogs when they fear being left alone for large amounts of time. It is a significant cause of stress and anxiety in dogs. Symptoms of separation anxiety include frantic barking and showing destructive behavior such as chewing shoes, furniture, digging through trash or even housebreaking accidents. Sometimes dogs even show intense fear and may try to escape if enclosed. If a dog is given excessive attention or affection and then is immediately separated for long periods can cause dogs to stress out as the dog lacks prior habituation to the separation.

2. Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is commonly caused in dogs who have previously faced neglect or abuse at some point in their lives. When suffering from this condition, dogs show crippling anxiety when in the presence of other dogs or humans they are not commonly acquainted with. If dogs are rescued from puppy mills, were previously strays or were saved from evident abuse, they are more inclined to show such behavior.

3. Excessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Also known as Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD), this is when pets can become entirely absorbed in a certain task or object. For dogs, it could mean repeatedly chasing their tails, continuous digging or chewing, e.g., their food bowl or other objects. Such a disorder can be developed in dogs for several reasons. It could be a coping mechanism for a situation your dog may deem as stressful. It could also be a response to boredom or a desire to seek attention.

4. Noise Anxiety

When suffering from noise anxiety, dogs can get stressed through the sound of certain loud noises. Some dogs may be affected by only specific loud noises such as fireworks or the sound of gunshots, while others may be affected by any loud noise. Common sounds that trigger noise anxiety in canines can include thunderstorms, loud parties, sirens, fireworks or loud musical instruments.

5. Dementia

This disorder is mostly common in older dogs. Dementia in dogs resembles Alzheimer’s disease in humans when a noticeable change in their cognition is apparent. This may show symptoms such as disorientation and memory loss. When suffering from Dementia, sometimes dogs may even face trouble getting around the house.

6. Depression

Depression can be a serious issue concerning the mental health of dogs, and should not be taken lightly. It’s imperative to periodically notice your pup’s behavior because, unlike humans, dogs cannot tell us if they are sad or depressed. If your pup appears withdrawn, down, and lethargic, depression may be a possibility.


Whether it’s separation anxiety, noise anxiety or social anxiety, anxiety is a major problem when it comes to mental health in dogs. Some common anxiety symptoms in dogs include trembling for no apparent reason, hiding or making rash attempts to leave or escape their home, a tendency to self-injury, reduced activity, Diarrhea or vomiting, and compulsively licking or grooming their bodies. A dog undergoing anxiousness may show many of these symptoms or just a few, depending on the cause of anxiety.

Some common symptoms for dogs going through a depressive state can be a sudden loss of appetite or drastic weight loss for no apparent physical reason. Reduced activity, ongoing lethargy and continuous sleeping can also be signs. Drastic behavioral changes such as reduced social interaction is also a symptom, along with a refusal to drink water or indulge in tasty treats. Excessive shedding can also be an indication of depression.

Several possible OCD symptoms in dogs can include intensively repetitive behavior. Self-mutilation can also be a sign along with excessive tail-chasing or a decrease in playfulness.


If you notice any of these issues concerning the mental health of dogs, take it seriously. Mental health issues can take a toll on your canine’s emotional health and can negatively affect their quality of life.

You can take measures that strive to ease their anxiety and maintain a calmer home for them.

You can take the following steps to uplift the mental health of dogs. Therapy provided through these steps can be beneficial.

Be sure to exercise with your dog regularly to provide the necessary mental stimulation. A sedentary lifestyle is sure to cause depression in dogs.

Massaging your dog can help ease anxiety and can make your dog feel relaxed. Body awareness exercises and strength training can also help your dog feel more confident and aware of their actions and their bodies.

Too much attention can sometimes also give dogs anxiety. Giving your pet space can also help treat depression and boost mental health in dogs.

The mental health of dogs may also improve if you let your dog do activities they enjoy. If your dog likes chasing, regularly play fetch with it, or if your dog likes chewing, buy some good quality chew toys. Indulging your canine can largely treat dog anxiety issues.

Lastly, always remember to regularly pay your vet a visit. This will give you the peace of mind that your pet canine is healthy, and in case your dog is behaving oddly, you can discuss it with the doctor and solve the problem timely.

Always remember, the mental health of dogs is just as important as their physical health and needs to be addressed just as attentively.