Can Dogs Sense Depression: A Surprising Truth

Those big puppy dog eyes, and a cuddle when you need it most, surely these are signs that your dog knows exactly how you’re feeling. Then again, we don’t want to anthropomorphize too much. Assigning our dogs’ feelings and thoughts they aren’t having isn’t helpful. So, can your dog tell when you’re upset? It can be hard to know whether we’re projecting, but I looked into the issue, and there’s some pretty good evidence to resolve the debate.

Can dogs sense depression? Dogs can sense depression. Your dogs’ senses are a true wonder of nature, and they can smell chemical changes in your body, like depression. Moreover, they read body language exceptionally well. Your dog may not know what we call it, but they understand there’s a change that makes you unhappy without a doubt. 

Time & Memory

Your dog remembers when something that depressed you happened, and when you behaved differently. We’ve all heard the old joke about “You’ve been gone forever… I counted,” and that contributes to a misperception about dogs’ sense of time and memory.

Overall, the way most people think of animal memory and time sense is unfortunately based on such jokes and ‘common knowledge’ rather than studies that show the reality. Even goldfish have much better memories than you might expect.

Doggy Memory

According to PetMD, “Dogs and cats have different types of memories, just like we do. They have spatial memory, remembering where things are located, short-term memories, and long-term memories,” says Dr. Brian Hare, associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

If you’ve suffered from depression before around your dog, they know it. Long term memory is a strange thing. It doesn’t fade evenly, and some memories can be stored indefinitely, remembered forever.

Both humans and animals need to remember things that caused them fear, pain, or concern more than they need to remember joy and contentment. It helps us survive since calm isn’t a risk we need to solve or avoid. Moreover, it’s likely your dog remembers when you were suffering better than they remember all the times you’ve played.

Associative Memory

Dogs have an exceptional associative memory. What this means is that your dog remembers cause and effect. This is part of why they’re so trainable. Your favorite Fido can learn to fetch. Therefore they can also learn that you need more cuddles when you’re bummed out.

You can support your dogs’ memory with a great supplement like Nutrition Strength Cognitive Support from Amazon. Helping your best friend remember better is great for them and can help both puppies and older dogs alike. You can pick up a bottle of chewable tablets when you click here

Dogs’ Time Sense

The Circadian rhythm is something most, or all animals share, and dogs might be able to use their time sense to know when your depression is coming. It is a sense of day and night or even a sense of the seasons of a year.

Additionally, canines have a sense of more and less where time is concerned. In short, your dog is aware of whether you were gone for a few minutes, several hours or much longer. You pooches’ sense of the day, and night or summer, and winter might help them know when you’re likely to get upset.

Though not all forms of depression have a recognizable rhythm, those that do are identifiable through a sense of time. As a result, they may anticipate certain types of depression, like Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD causes chemical changes in the brain and depression related to a lack of sunlight.

Body Language

Dogs are master body language readers, and when your body looks sad, they can see it. Scientists who study social cognition (body language interpretation) in dogs have had decades to determine whether our dogs can see what we’re thinking.

Although they aren’t mind readers, dogs’ natural empathy certainly helps. Moreover, the ability to remember the significance of gestures and other body language has been proven many times. In fact, dogs may even be up to four times better at reading our body language than apes.

Humans only think we communicate through words most often. In reality, only about seven percent of what we ‘say’ is in our words. The other ninety-three percent is nonverbal communications like the tone of voice. A stunning fifty-five percent of what we tell others comes from body language alone.

Small Misunderstandings

Sometimes a dog will misinterpret how we’re feeling. If we get lost in thought and stare into the distance while standing still, for example, a dog may read that as alertness. In a fellow dog, that’s what it would signal. However, human gestures like crying are seldom lost on your pet. Since there’s no other competing ‘definition’ in their heads, it makes it easier to read.

Make sure you reward your dogs’ loyalty with the best you can give them. They’ll live longer lives, and be there to comfort you more when they stay healthy. Skip the fillers like corn and grains in your dog food. Instead, opt for something more raw and natural like Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food from Amazon. You can check prices and availability by clicking here

Smell & Hearing

Perhaps as vital as their ability to read our body language to determine when we’re depressed is another pair of senses. I’m talking about your canine companions’ nose and ears. Although we can study them scientifically, it’s difficult to wrap our heads around just how much more acute they are than our own limited perception.

Dogs Can Hear Your Emotional Responses

Your dog can hear your heart without having to put an ear to your chest. They understand panic and excitement before you show them because your pet can listen to your telltale heartbeat. If you’ve ever noticed that your dog knows you’re home before anyone else could hear you coming, it’s not supernatural. That’s how keen those canine ears are, and how tuned in they are to your rhythms and behavior.

Dogs Smell Your Feelings

Humans have a minimal sense of smell, but dogs can catch a whiff of how you’re feeling easily. When we have an extreme emotional response, like depression, it comes with physical changes. Those changes have a scent, even though our noses can’t detect them.

When we get upset, we may sweat. Even when the amount of sweat is so small that we can’t feel it, you can bet your dog smells the difference. Likewise, your brain undergoes a chemical change when you’re clinically depressed. It may seem strange to think that your dog can smell what’s on your mind, but they can and do.

Your dog will react to your emotional state in the manner they’re accustomed to treating you. This might be a paw on your thigh or a cuddle. Similarly, they may try giving you ‘kisses’ to make you smile. Plus, they know when it’s working because they can smell the difference in you. When you fake it, they can tell the difference, though they may not have the complex inner thought process to truly understand what they are smelling as it relates to our behavior.

Is Your Dog Really Comforting You?

Depression will give you a lot of dark and frankly false thoughts about how others feel and your own worth. Your best furry friend might try to comfort you. However, with a chemical imbalance in your brain, you may find yourself wondering if that’s what’s truly going on.

Recent studies, neuroimaging dog’s brains to see how they react to humans may have the answers we’re seeking. The good news for humans is that our dogs are definitely hard-wired to adore and seek us out. Moreover, their desire to give comfort is distinguishably different from when they’re seeking support and attention for themselves.

Under an MRI and fMRI dogs, brains showed activity in the caudate nucleus when they smelled their owners. In layman’s terms, your doggy feels pleasure just from smelling that you are near. Your dog is a pack animal who sees you like the most crucial member of their pack. That’s love. They are invested in your wellbeing.

Reward your dogs for their loyalty by sharing unique toys and treats with them. Better yet, keep an eye on them no matter how far away you are, and gove them treats remotely for good behavior with a SKYMEE Dog Camera Treat Dispenser. You may not always be right there, but you and your dog will feel less alone when you can interact no matter where you go. To find out more, click here

Final Thoughts

Having a dog can help you to cope with depression. It’s not just that they sense it and give you comfort, because the bond between dogs (pets) and their owners goes much deeper than that. As frustrating as it can sometimes be, the overall joy and comfort of having an animal companion will help extend your life, decrease your stress level, and keep you grounded.

Be sure to give back to your pet for all they do for you. Be aware of their moods and feelings as well as your own, and comfort them when they are in need. Having a happy, healthy dog is quite literally good for both of you, and your pet will always care how you feel.

Dogs are far more intuitive than most of us understand. They pick up on our social cues naturally and can ‘see’ things with their noses, like the chemical changes that come with depression.

Recent Posts