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My Dog Seems Sad and Tired – What Should I Do?

Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Friday 6 August 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
my dog seems sad and tired
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Like us, our dogs can seem out of sorts and down in the dumps. But what is the cause of their behavior and emotional change? Well, if you’ve been searching ‘my dog seems sad and tired‘ looking for answers, then we can help. There is no one reason for your dog to feel this way. They can be ill, anxious, mourning, and even have an injury. So to make sure you can find the cause for your dog’s lethargy and mood change, we will go through all the possibilities as to why they feel like this.

It’s important to identify why your dog is sad and tired or appears this way. This is because these can be a symptom of pain, illness, and unhappiness. No owner wants their dog to feel this way and it’s our job to help you identify the problem. So you can know how to make things better.

Let’s take a look at the causes and solutions below.

Signs That Your Dog is Sad and Tired

As discussed by Gregory Berns, dog’s emotions differ a little from ours due to their brain size which minimizes the complexity of each emotion. However, the base emotions we feel are felt by dogs including excitement, happiness, and sadness. Therefore, when they feel negativity like sadness and tiredness those emotions can be quite strong and debilitating.

They’re Avoiding Interaction

Avoiding interaction can be either through hiding or ignoring. If your dog is actively trying to find shelter away from you and other family members then this can be signs of sadness and anxiety. Note their body language when they do this, do they appear to make their body smaller and press their ears back, or bare their teeth and raise their hackles. This can explain a little more whether they are feeling anxious, fearful, or aggressive. If they are ignoring you, it may be that they are experiencing depression and do not feel that they want to interact with anyone. On the other hand, they may be ignoring you because they are ill, tired, or in pain and that’s where their attention is focused. They may only be able to rest at that time.

Loss of Appetite

A loss of appetite is a sign of tiredness and sadness, especially when they’re sick and not eating. They may simply not want to drink and eat because they cannot get the motivation, or physically they cannot. Teeth pain, a churning stomach, even leg pain can reduce a dog’s want to eat and drink. Even if they have positive moments, a lack of appetite is always a sign that something is wrong. Try to observe your dog’s behavior at feeding time and how much they actually eat or drink. Even notice their excitement or lack of when you start getting their food ready.

They Won’t Stop Licking Their Feet

There are a lot of occasions when a dog is repeatedly licking an area, most commonly their feet, as a form of self-soothing. This can be done for them to try to calm down, to comfort themselves, or even as a distraction. In the same manner, we tap our feet when preoccupied with a thought, this is that equivalent for dogs. Grooming in a specific area repeatedly is actually an anxiety behavior and can be a sign of deep sadness or stress. In more severe cases the licking can lead to fur loss and skin irritation. However, if you suspect your dog is licking repeatedly then you may want to visit a behaviorist to try to prevent it and figure out the cause.

Unusually Avoiding Walking or Playing

Every dog is different and some are a lot quieter and more gentle by nature. However, if you have a usually energetic dog that loves to play and exercise and they have started to ignore these wants, it is a concern. When your dog seems sad and tired it can be more than just aging. Personality and nature can change with age but not suddenly, this is a sign of concern. When a dog is sad they will lose motivation to do things they usually love, in this case, that’s walking and playing. It can also be a sign of tiredness as they may not have the energy to get up and involve themself in these activities. Of course, a dog can have an off day, but if this occurs multiple times that’s when it is worth a vet visit.

Possible Causes of This Sadness or Tiredness

Dog emotions are often quite strong and happen relatively quickly. This means that when you notice a change, be sure to start identifying the possible causes as their emotions will stay this way until things are better. Take a look at possible causes below.


From infection to the ingestion of something toxic, there are many ways that your dog could be ill which leads to their mood change. Some f the most prominent or common causes include:

  • Infection: These can be draining and make your dog feel really rough, hence why they display lethargy and sadness. These could include parvovirus, kennel cough, or a wound infection
  • Medication side effects: From flea tablets to vitamins, medications all come with possible side effects. Lethargy, hormone changes, and even sickness can lead to the appearance of sadness and tiredness
  • Anemia: Your dog can feel weak and faint from this condition, which in itself is unpleasant. Trauma, parasites, and heat cycles can all cause anemia
  • Poisoning: Your dog may have ingested something toxic which is leading to this behavior. Stomach pains, lethargy, and vomiting are some of the symptoms. Be sure to call a vet if this is a concern


If your dog has any pain they are much more likely to be lethargic. Mobility is not only more difficult with an injury, but the pain is a deterrent from attempting to move. They may feel limited and achey, hence the sadness.

Depression or Anxiety

Both depression and anxiety can completely consume your dog leading to a lack of motivation, fear to move, and a lack of interest in things they used to enjoy. These conditions should be brought to a vet and then a behaviorist to see what can be done to help them feel themselves again


Like us, when dogs lose someone in their life they mourn. This means low moods, lethargy, a lack of interest in things, and time needed to heal. Know that this won’t last forever, but whether that person or animal has died or relocated, all your dog knows is that they are gone. It’s no wonder that your dog seems sad and tired after these feelings of loss. So they will need time to get back to themselves and feel okay once more.

What Should You Do?

We always recommend a vet visit for when your dog is just not being themselves. The experts can eliminate any life-threatening worries and tell you if the problem is health-based, treatable at home, or if you need a behaviorist. Where, as an owner, you may have to reason and guess. Vets can medically narrow down and find the exact cause so you can give the appropriate treatment.

Be sure to never punish your dog for this behavior. They are not lying around and doing nothing to annoy you, there is always a cause and a solution. Take time to figure out the cause and have patience in cases that will take time to aid, such as depression.

do dogs mourn
Dogs mourn when they lose a loved one.

My Dog Seems Sad And Tired – FAQs

More questions concerning why your dog seems sad and tired? Don’t worry, we have all the most frequently searched questions concerning this topic below.

Can dogs get depression?

Dog depression is a very serious issue that can influence your dog’s health majorly. Some symptoms include lethargy, irritability, a loss or increase of appetite, a lack of interest in activities, and even being more recluse. Depression should not just be left to sort itself out, medication or environmental changes will be needed so head over to your vets.

Can dogs have anxiety?

Anxiety is quite common in dogs and is more prone in certain breeds rather than others. Before purchasing a dog, research their genetics so you can properly prepare for a high-anxiety prone dog breed if that’s what you want. The anxiety can be day to day, separation anxiety, relating to loud noises, or new people and dogs. Each case will require different treatment and care as the anxiety targets different areas of their life.

How to differentiate tiredness from sickness in dogs?

The best way to differentiate the two is to look for other symptoms. Tiredness will often be lethargy accompanied by disinterest. Sickness will often have more symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and coughing. A sure-fire way to diagnose your dog is a vet visit. If things don’t seem severe, you can monitor your dog for 24 and wait to see if anything improves or new symptoms arise.

How do I cheer up my dog?

Some ways to help cheer your dog up is regular interaction, attention, and walks. Treat them to earlier walks, give them new treats, and take them to new locations for a fun walk experience. Encourage them to get up and get moving and provide them with extra love.

Do dogs know when I’m sad?

Dogs are very empathetic creatures and can almost always sense what you are feeling. Not only do you know when you are sad, angry, or tired, but they will attempt to help. When you are sad, your dog may approach you and lick your face, try to cuddle, or generally give attention to you.

If your dog seems sad and tired, go through this list to see if they are in need of an urgent vet visit or some extra love day today. Vets and behaviorists are always able to help advise you what to do and treat your dog if you cannot do so alone.

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