6 Warning Signs of an Unhappy Dog

It can be hard to tell if your pet is happy or not. They don’t talk, after all. While that’s probably a good thing in the long run, especially when we have guests over, it would undoubtedly help communication when something isn’t quite right. Fortunately for pet owners, some signs to look for might signal your pet is not feeling its best.

Unhappy Dog
Unhappy Dog

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In this article, we’re going to cover the signs that your furry family member is feeling depressed or unwell and some solutions, including changes to routine and using natural pet products to increase mood and health. By the end, you’ll be an expert on how to cheer up any pet who needs it.

Six Signs Your Pet Is Unhappy

If you’re noticing any of these six things, it’s time to pay more attention to your pet and do what you can to make them happier. 

1) Loss of Appetite

When our pets are upset, one of the first things that tend to happen is losing their appetites. So if your pet isn’t interested in eating their food and picks at it without really consuming much or turns their nose up entirely, then it might be a sign that not all is well with them. A couple of easy solutions for getting your pet interested in their food again are changing to something tastier, made with high-quality ingredients. Another option is using pet food toppers in cans, pouches, and even dehydrated for easy reconstituting. These are a great way to improve the taste of your pet’s food and entice even the most uninterested eaters. In addition, getting them eating again will likely help them feel better overall, and you may generally notice mood improvements rather quickly. 

2) Changes in Grooming and Hygiene Habits

Another sign that your pet might be unhappy is if they start showing less interest in hygiene than usual. This can include not taking care of their coat and not going through the motions of washing themselves after toileting if that’s something they usually do. This can also mean that they start to smell bad, even if their outward appearance isn’t all that different. So, if things get a bit funky, it is also another signal that grooming and hygiene habits may be waning. 

One option here is to help them with the process. Daily brushing is an excellent place to start. If your pet isn’t used to this, be sure to get them used to the activity slowly and use lots of treats to reward them. Eventually, this kind of routine can become a fantastic bonding experience, and your pet may perk up just from the extra time you’re spending together and the care you’re devoting to them. 

In aging pets, infrequent grooming also may be a sign of sore joints and muscles. In this case, using the appropriate pet supplements to ensure optimal health will go a long way to bettering their mood. 

3) Decreased Activity or Loss of Energy

It’s not uncommon for pets to sleep more when they’re upset. Still, it is unusual for them to completely lose interest in playing entirely unless they’re pretty advanced in their years. So if your dog isn’t willing to go on walks or play with you anymore, if your cat isn’t jumping around or climbing surfaces, or if your pet bird isn’t chirping as much, then it might be time to consider that they’re not feeling well.

A lack of interest in play can often indicate something wrong with them physically, meaning they might need to see a vet. On the other hand, it might also tell that your pet is just feeling down and needs some extra attention from you. In either case, a vet visit would be a good idea to make sure nothing is wrong, which could lead to more significant problems if left untreated. You can also examine any significant changes to their environment or routine. These can be disruptive and cause pets to feel uneasy or stressed.

4) Being Aggressive or Destructive

Suppose your pet suddenly becomes aggressive toward you, family members, or other pets in the home. In that case, it could be because they’re feeling stressed and unwell. Even something as simple as a change in routine can cause this kind of change. If your pet is usually even-tempered and then, all of a sudden, they start lashing out at you, try to think back on anything that has changed recently.

Similar to how some pets stop grooming themselves, others might act out by destroying things in the house when they’re upset. This is usually an indication that your pet is unhappy or frustrated with something and is now reacting. That, or they’re simply bored and looking for something to occupy themselves with. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s essential that you consider the root of the problem and not just deal with the symptoms. Your pet will likely feel more comfortable and stable after you’ve addressed their needs, whatever they may be.

5) Excessive Scratching, Licking, and Panting

When pets are anxious or stressed, they often start to over-groom themselves. This might look like excessive licking or scratching of their coats for cats. Dogs might start to excessively lick their paws, too. Generally, panting is taken as a sign that your pet is overheated and needs someplace cooler to be. If it’s not hot out, panting can signify that they’re uncomfortable and are trying to self-soothe by producing more saliva.

This sort of behavior is another good indicator that your pet might be feeling anxious, especially if it’s paired with other symptoms like hiding or listlessness. Try to think back on what has changed recently in their environment and address those changes as soon as possible. It can also be a sign that something is up with your pet’s health and physical wellbeing. In this case, they may be suffering from a food or seasonal allergy, and something as simple as some dog shampoo for itchy skin will solve the problem.

Again, you need to rule out any significant changes in their environment first. Once you’ve done that, then try to pinpoint what might be triggering these anxious behaviors. Finally, see if you can do anything to help them feel more relaxed.

6) Hiding & Seeking Solitude

A frequent sign that something is wrong with your pet is if they suddenly become reclusive and start hiding from you whenever possible. If you notice that your ordinarily friendly pet is now avoiding any type of contact with you, it’s usually for one of a few reasons. 

The first reason might be because they’re stressed out and simply trying to avoid any additional pressure. This added stress may come from the addition of another pet to the home, the behavior of a family member, or starting to use the wrong training methods. For example, aversive-based training methods have been researched and shown to be psychologically damaging to companion dogs. This could definitely encourage dogs to hide from their owners. 

Alternatively, if your pet has always enjoyed spending time with the family but all of a sudden starts hiding whenever possible, then they might be depressed. Pets can get depressed much in the same way humans do, and that’s a sign that you need to address their underlying problem as soon as possible. The solution may be as simple as increased exercise or playtimes. After all, your pet loves you, and any time you spend together is gold for them.

Hiding can also be a sign that something is physically wrong with your pet, and they’re trying to stay out of sight until it passes. Other symptoms like excessive licking or scratching or related health issues like decreased appetite or diarrhea should be monitored. When in doubt, seek advice from your vet. A checkup is never a bad thing, and you may catch something before it gets more serious. 

Keep It Simple

If you suspect your pet is unhappy, simple solutions might be the way to go. A minor tweak to their diet, more time together, or some additional exercise can really make a world of difference. If, however, the root cause is more complicated, like an environmental change or health problem, then you’ll need to address that first before looking for ways to cheer your pet up again.

Richard Hayes

Hey there! Meet Richard Hayes, the big boss and marketing guru behind Pet Dog Planet. He's been a total doggo fanatic since forever and loves all kinds of pups, from tiny teacup Chihuahuas to big, burly Bulldogs. His absolute favorite pastime? Snuggling with adorable puppies—he can't get enough of those cute little faces! Plus, he's totally into iced coffee, chilling in hammocks, and, of course, more puppy cuddling!

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