I Have a Sad Poodle – What’s the Problem?

To you, your dog is just a part of your world. To your dog, you are its entire world.

I have always lived by this when it comes to my Doodles. I am constantly striving to ensure they are stimulated, challenged, loved, made to feel important and needed.

If you have noticed a change in your dog’s mood or noticed something’s a bit “off” with them, read on to find out of your dog could be suffering from depression. We will help you navigate around the subtleties of canine behavior and hopefully get your best friend’s life (and yours) back on track.

Are Poodles Prone to Depression?

The Poodle breed, unfortunately, is inherently prone to Addison’s disease and Hypothyroidism. Both illnesses can often trigger depression.

Addison’s can cause lethargy and depression, but then the depression causes stress, which in turn will aggravate the Addison’s and present more aggressive symptoms.

Hypothyroidism, similarly, can trigger anxiety and confusion in Poodles. This, in turn, can cause acute or chronic depression in your Poodle that can quickly spiral out of control.

This combination of closely linked inherited diseases to the Poodle will mean that Poodles and Doodles are more prone than other breeds to depression and bouts of sadness.

What Can Cause Depression in Poodles and Doodles?

There are many triggers for depression in Poodles. Whilst this list is not exhaustive it is fairly extensive:

  • Loss of a companion
  • Loss of an owner
  • Medical issues
  • Pain
  • Boredom
  • Separation anxiety
  • A new addition to the family (2 or 4 legged)
  • Old age
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise
  • Moving home
  • Weather

What are the Signs of Depression in Poodles?

Excessive Sleep

If your dog is sleeping more than often, they could be depressed. A lack of excitement for the world or not being interested in getting up when a visitor arrives can point to depression. Resting in hiding places is a massive sign your dog isn’t happy. If they usually flop in the middle of the lounge carpet, but they are now curling up behind the couch or hiding under the dining table, this could be a sign of depression.

Change in Appetite

Often depression can cause a lack of appetite – Or confusingly, an increased appetite. Look out for signs that your dog is refusing to eat or is eating more than usual and keep a diary so you can piece the puzzle together if things progress.

Behavior Changes

Licking their feet or excessive grooming is a self-soothing technique that dogs use to calm themselves or make themselves feel better.

Unwillingness to Exercise

Reluctance to play or exercise can be worrying for a dog owner to see as this is the main character change that will occur when your dog begins to feel depressed.

Getting Older

Old age, as with humans, can trigger feelings of sadness as they will naturally become aware of their mortality. Some say they can actually tell their time is coming soon. If you have an elderly dog, keep an eye out for signs of depression.

How can Depression in Poodles be Prevented?

Depression in dogs is not something you can generally control from happening, no more than you can prevent it from manifesting in humans.

Unfortunately, depression is just something that some dogs are prone to and will just happen. It is often caused by what we humans will perceive as a small moment in history, but it can be devastatingly massive to your dog’s mental health.

Being more aware that your Poodle or Doodle sees itself as a member of your pack will enable you to see things from your dog’s perspective. Try to include them in everything the family does.

Ensure your Poodle or Doodle is regularly checked by a professional. Lumps, aches and sores can cause your dog to feel sad about themselves, but they may be hiding their discomfort well.

Keep your routines fresh. Allow your dog to sniff new areas and walk through unfamiliar routes. This will keep your dog challenged and get their brain and senses sharpened. Just as endorphins are released in humans through exercise, the same is true for canines.

Major changes in a dog’s life could lead to periods of depression. Those include moving into a new home, a new spouse, or a new baby in the household. Even a change in the dog’s schedule, for instance, a stay-at-home owner who takes a job, can cause a dog to get down.

Ensure your dog feels like the center of your world when there are potentially big changes going on. When things are not going well in your or your dog’s world, a short snuggle on the sofa with your dog will do you both the world of good. Your dog sees itself as your caretaker. Anything they can do to lift your mood will ultimately lift theirs.

Walks in the sunlight are as energizing to your dog as they can be for you. Don’t just walk to exercise your pooch. Absorb the air, inhale the scents, bask in the sunlight, enjoy the scenery. Your own mental happiness and overall wellbeing are noticeable to your dog and will rub off on them. Lead by example.

Take time to get your dog some high-end treats and make your dog feel extra special when they are playing with you. Reward them for their happiness!

Is Medical Input Required?

Depression has similar signs to arthritis. Lethargy, reluctance to move, sadness, loss of appetite – these can all be symptoms of joint pain as well as depression.

Addison’s and Hypothyroidism will need medical input. Always take your dog to a professional for advice if you suspect either of these diseases in your Poodle or Doodle.

Blood tests can rule out a lot of illnesses like the inherited ones we have mentioned, as well as seeing if there is an internal organ issue at the route of your dog’s sadness. X-rays can diagnose bone and joint issues.

Medical canine anti-depressants are available if your veterinarian feels your dog is depressed. They work very much like human ones and will take a few weeks to kick in.

How Mild or Severe can Depression be in Poodles and Doodles?

Canine depression can be as devastating as human depression. Poodles are sensitive, clever, loyal, and most importantly, they believe they are actually human! Poodles have an incredibly strong physical need to be near their families and be involved in all family business.

This trait is often passed on to any Doodle with more proportion of Poodle in it than the other breed. This will be mainly the Doodles who are classed as “b” generations (F1b, F2b, etc)

Don’t just shrug the possibility of depression off as “just a little bit sad”. If your dog is depressed, they can develop other health issues caused by their mental state that may not be treatable once they take hold.

Holistic ways to Combat Depression in Poodles and Doodles

Here are some ways you can try to make your sad Poodle happy again:

  • Special treats: Try out Liver Cake recipes – My dogs adore it.
  • Music: Classical, Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz – Let your dog choose their favorite style to relax to.
  • New experiences: Take your dog to your local pet store, get them a new toy. Go on a car journey just for the sheer heck of it.
  • Snuggly dog bed: There are many cozy beds out there that act like a stress reliever. Look out for the soft snuggly ones that envelope your dog’s body
  • Stress relief food supplements: There are many out there, ask your veterinarian for advice.
  • Massage and brushing: I know I enjoy a massage and going to the salon – Is your dog any different?
  • Aromatherapy diffusers: Never apply directly to your pet. Use a diffuser out of reach from your dog. Lavender and Frankincense are the best scents for depression.
  • Keep your own stress and wellbeing in check: Your dog is like a sponge and will often reflect your own mood.