Is My Dog Mentally Ill? How to Know

Owning a pet such as a dog can bring much fulfillment in a person’s life. While most dog owners enjoy living with a happy and healthy dog, there are times when a dog my have mental health issues.

Like physical illnesses, dogs that suffer from mental illness will require treatment and assistance. In order to determine if your dog is mentally ill, you will need to look for some signs.

By finding these signs, you will be able to know when your dog is in distress and when to get it the help it needs to restore its mental health.


One of the first signs to look for when finding out if your dog is mentally ill is trembling. In this situation, your dog will often shake uncontrollably on a regular basis.

When your dog trembles it will be moving its legs, paws, and torso very frequently. Your dog may be in a state of fear or maybe going through a lot of anxiety. Once you see your dog tremble, it is a sign that it needs to get help to help improve its emotional well being.


Another sign of your dog being mentally ill is hiding. When your dog is in distress, it will frequently hide in places on a regular basis. It will find a table, a chair, a bed, or an enclosed space to sit and lay down in.

They will often do this when other dogs are present or when other people are around. Your dog hiding can mean that it is scared or that it is sad and doesn’t want to be around anyone. Whenever your dog hides, it is likely that it is in need of support.

Attempts to leave

When looking to find out if your dog is mentally ill, another key indicator is its lack of attentiveness. The dog will often look to leave a particular area or person.

A dog will leave an area or person every time that it is present in the environment. If your dog is always leaving the area when a family member comes over or when you take it to a certain part of the house, it is likely that your dog is uncomfortable.


Dogs that have issues with their mental health will at times inflict injuries on themselves. They will often make attempts at self-mutilation.

The dog will often bit itself, scratch itself excessively or attempt to hurt itself by making contact with sharp objects. Whenever your dog frequently attempts to injure itself, it is clearly in a state of distress.

You will need to immediately get it to stop hurting itself and take it to a veterinarian if it suffers any injuries. It will also be important to take it in for psychiatric evaluation as well.

Reduced activity

Similar to humans, a dog that engages in less activity is another sign that it may be suffering from mental illness. When your dog is mentally ill, it will usually stop doing activities that it used to participate in on a regular basis.

Your dog will usually be less enthusiastic or express an unwillingness to do certain activities. A dog will often prefer to just sit and lie around all day.

If your dog has reduced activity, it will be important to bring it in for a mental health evaluation.

Destructive behavior

Whenever your dog is going through distress, it will also engage in a lot of destructive behavior. A dog will damage things on purpose.

They will usually chew up papers, chew up toys, and may even knock things over on a regular basis. Dogs may also chew up clothing as well.

If a dog is frequently destroying objects, it is a sign that it needs help in restoring its happiness and emotional well being.

Loss of appetite

Dogs that are suffering from mental illness will often have a loss of appetite as well. They will not be eager to eat any meals and will consume a very minimal amount of food.

Instead of eating a sufficient amount of food each day, a mentally ill dog will usually just avoid eating altogether.

When your dog has a loss of appetite, it is a sign that they are not in a good mental state and need help and support.

Significant weight loss

As well as a loss of appetite, a dog will also suffer a considerable amount of weight loss. A dog will often lose up to 5 pounds within a few weeks.

By not eating and going through emotional distress, a dog’s weight may plummet to an unhealthy level. As a result, it is important to address this as soon as you notice your dog getting much lighter.

Excessive tail chasing

Dogs that chase their tails on a regular basis are also likely to be mentally ill. If you find a dog chasing its tail numerous times per day for a period of a few weeks, it is likely that their mental health is shaky.

A dog that is happy and the content will chase its tail once in a while. However, when this is excessive, it is a good idea to get a dog some mental health support as soon as possible.

Decrease in playfulness

Many dogs are very energetic and playful, especially if they are young. If you have a dog that is young and has experienced a decrease in playfulness, it is probably in a negative state of mind.

A dog that is not willing to play games or go outside to run around will usually signify that it is not happy. As a result, you will be able to easily determine that a dog is distressed and is in need of an evaluation.


A dog is a very pleasant companion to be with. When a dog is healthy, it is very playful and energetic. However, a dog can also experience negative emotions and go through distress.

This distress can result in mental illness which can negatively affect their lives. By knowing the signs of mental illness in dogs, you will be able to quickly detect its behavior and find ways to help it recover from a negative mental state.

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