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Reading Dog Moods that Show Signs of Depression, Fear, or Anxiety

Here are some suggestions on how to pick up on dog moods swinging toward negative emotions and how to help them through it.

If you’ve ever been graced with the companionship of a dog, you know they go through a spectrum of emotions. They aren’t able to tell us “I love you” or “I don’t feel good,” but you can figure it out by their body language.

Pups let us know when they're in good dog moods, either by the excited full-body wiggle or those goofy smiles. But what are the signs of the more concerning emotions? Sometimes a wagging tail doesn't translate to happiness, or maybe licking their chops isn't about tasty food.

Here are suggested signs to watch for in those cases where your pup may be experiencing low or tremulous dog moods.

Signs of Depression

Change in sleeping habits can be a sign of depression.

Dogs react similarly to humans when they experience loss or change. You may find a correlation between signs of depression in humans to the dog moods listed below. Michelson Found Animals points out that “while humans might have situational or chemical depression, dogs usually get depressed after a major life change.” So when that change happens for your pupper, keep an eye on them for the following signs:

  • Change in Appetite (increase or decrease)
  • Change in Sleeping Habits
  • Become Anxious or Aggressive
  • Decrease in Activity (Fatigue)
  • Withdrawn

Signs of Anxiety

Yawning can be a sign of anxiety.

Dogs can experience insecurity and anxiousness, just like humans. Massive life changes can cause depression, or instead, you may see signs of anxiety. Maybe you got a new cat, and your doggo is unsure about their new housemate. You may observe your pup raising or pointing their paw. This may indicate insecurity or unsurety rather than being playful. Watch your dog for these other signs, also, as they may be experiencing anxiety.

  • Excessive Licking and/or Chewing
  • “Whale Eyes”
  • Avoiding Eye Contact
  • Pacing
  • Yawning and/or Panting
  • Unable to be Still

Signs of Fear

Avoiding eye contact can be a sign of fear.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, discovered that dogs can easily connect and bond with multiple species. They are highly social animals; however, that can lead to dogs having bad experiences. Those events can leave a negative impression on your pooch, and they may feel some big dog moods of fear or anxiety. Here are some signs of fear your dog may be showing:

  • Tense or Crouched Body
  • Shaking
  • Urinating in Submission
  • “Left-sided bias of tail wagging”
  • Avoiding Eye Contact
  • “Whale Eyes”
  • Lowered or Tucked Tail
  • Lip Licking
  • Hiding or Distancing Themselves
  • Yawning
  • Flattened Ears

Helping Your Pup

The companionship of other dogs has a good effect on their wellbeing.

If you notice the above signs, you should contact your vet. They can provide further insight into what may be going on with your dog, especially if there doesn't seem to be any change in lifestyle that could cause a shift in your dog's mood. In the case of depression, anxiety, or stress, you may consider taking your pooch for a good workout. Exercise is a great dog mood booster.

Maybe your dog’s sibling or housemate died, and they’re affected by the loss. Michelson Found Animals suggests you may consider getting another pet. As mentioned before, dogs tend to be social creatures, and a new friend can help them and give the new pet a loving home and family. If a new pet isn't possible, you can also take your dog to meet up with fellow dogmates at the park or in your neighborhood.

American Kennel Club suggests that CBD oil can benefit anxious dogs and other health issues. Studies haven't shown side-affects on dogs as of yet, but CBD is meant to "help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state."

You may also want to consider Animal Reiki. This treatment benefits your dog‘s mood by bringing healing energy. One pup’s mom told us at Your pet loves reiki that “Drax was having a lot of separation anxiety. We chose Reiki to keep him relaxed and not feeling so much stress. It was marvelous and we were happy to see him so chilled!”.

Keep an eye out for your dog’s moods and if it seems they are showing signs of the above traits, don’t brush it off. We know you love your pet and want to be active in their wellbeing.

If you’d like to learn more about Animal Reiki or request a session, you may contact us here.

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