Why does my dog seem depressed?

I've been out on disability since December. Recently I had back surgery. My Boston Terrier seems down and depressed. Can you explain why and what...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Mar 24th 2006


I’ve been out on disability since December. Recently I had back surgery. My Boston Terrier seems down and depressed. Can you explain why and what I can do?

Betty Ann
Rochester, NY

People ask me questions like yours regularly in my practice, as well as on Dogster and Catster. People become ill, or they move or get divorced, and they notice that their pets behave differently.

Cats and dogs are empathic creatures. They pick up our feelings, and they reflect them back to us. That is part of the reason why they are such wonderful companions.

When you go through something stressful, your pet is bound to notice your stress and respond to it. Unfortunately, stressful events are an unavoidable part of life. My advice is to focus on recovering from your surgery. When you feel better, your dog most likely will, too.

That said, to keep my attorney from getting mad at me, I should point out that there is a chance your dog is suffering from a genuine medical problem. Stressful events can unmask developing health issues in pets, just as they can in people. So, to be safe, you should take your dog to the vet for a checkup if you are able, or ask a friend to take him for you.